ORD, William (1781-1855), of Whitfield Hall, Northumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1802 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 2 Jan. 1781, 1st s. of William Ord of Fenham, Newminster Abbey and Whitfield Hall by Eleanor, da. of Charles Brandling*; she m. (2) 16 June 1802, Thomas Creevey*. educ. Eton 1793; Trinity Coll. Cambridge 1798. m. 1 Jan. 1803, Mary, da. of Rev. James Scott of Itchen Ferry, Hants, rector of St. Lawrence, Southampton, 1s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1789.

Offices Held


At Cambridge Ord was a close friend of Lord Henry Petty* and espoused Whig politics. Heir to a respectable estate in Northumberland, he celebrated his coming of age with an onslaught on the borough of Morpeth against the 5th Earl of Carlisle, the absentee patron. Thanks to a rebellious mood there and a generous purse, he succeeded in seizing a seat. Thomas Creevey, who had just become his stepfather, seems to have had hopes that Ord would capture the other seat for him, but for the next 30 years, during which their politics became more congenial, Ord was content to share the honours with Carlisle. Although his mother’s marriage to Creevey had excited ‘some censure and some ridicule’, he ‘very handsomely’ settled £1,000 p.a. on her in addition to her jointure, and this on the eve of his own marriage to Lady Oxford’s sister.1

Ord, who joined Brooks’s Club on 25 May 1803, voted steadily with the Foxite opposition during Addington’s and Pitt’s second administrations and did so only twice fewer than Creevey, whose attendance, as far as surviving divisions go, was perfect. In July 1804 he was a supporter of Burdett in the Middlesex election. He was absent on 30 Apr. 1806 when the Additional Force Act was repealed, though he had voted for repeal the year before. On 9 Apr. 1807 he voted for Brand’s motion following the dismissal of his friends from office and, in what was evidently his maiden speech, deprecated the abuse of the royal prerogative involved and deplored the alienation of Ireland likely to ensue from the lapse of the Catholic relief bill. Sheridan described it to Ord’s mother as ‘as neat and as spirited a short speech as ever I heard’.2

Ord was staunch in opposition in the Parliament of 1807 and like Creevey acted with the Whig ‘Mountain’. He never cut a figure in debate, but his few contributions were forceful: on 21 Mar. 1808 he roundly condemned the British attack on Copenhagen. On 1 May 1809 he introduced the fourth report of the committee of public expenditure, reflecting on the honesty of the Dutch commissioners as accountants: his five resolutions of censure were opposed by ministers and defeated by 102 votes to 77. On 18 May 1810 he supported the opposition motion to expunge from the journals the record of the House’s exoneration of Castlereagh for corruption.3 While his attendance was by no means as assiduous as Creevey’s in this Parliament, he voted in at least four divisions when Creevey was absent. He was reckoned ‘thick and thin’ by the Whigs in 1810, having been summoned to the leader’s meeting on 21 Jan.,4 and he could be counted on to support Catholic relief and moderate reform of Parliament: he eschewed extra-parliamentary agitation. He voted for Stuart Wortley’s motion for a stronger government, 21 May 1812. He did not join opposition to the framework bill, 17 Feb. 1812, believing it to be a necessary deterrent.

After the failure in 1813 of the Catholic relief bill, which he supported, Ord’s attendance dwindled. He was present in April and May 1814, when among other things he voted against the alteration of the Corn Laws (16 May). He then proceeded on a prolonged continental tour in quest, evidently, of a warmer climate.5 After sojourning in Italy and France he returned in time for the session of 1817 (when he joined Grillion’s Club) and from then until 1820 he appeared regularly in the opposition lobby on all issues. He signed the requisition to Tierney to lead the party in 1818. His only surviving speeches were for the reduction of the army, 6 Mar. 1818, and against the excise duties bill, 25 July 1819. He remained a staunch Whig, though office eluded him when his friends returned to power. Ord died 25 July 1855.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Lansdowne mss, Ord to Petty, 4 Oct., 6 Dec. 1801, 3 Mar., Smyth to same, 21 May, 17 June 1802; Creevey’s Life and Times, 12.
  • 2. Creevey’s Life and Times, 46.
  • 3. Geo. III Corresp. v. 3869, 4164.
  • 4. Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, i. 121.
  • 5. Northumb. RO, Blackett Ord mss, A 12-14, travel jnls. Sept. 1814-Jan. 1817; Mems. L. Horner, ii. 121; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 4 Jan. 1817.