ORDE, Sir John, 1st Bt. (1751-1824), of Burwash, Suss.

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



14 Aug. 1807 - 1812

Family and Education

b. 22 Dec. 1751, 3rd s. of John Orde of East Orde and Morpeth, Northumb. by 2nd w. Anne, da. of Ralph Marr of Morpeth, wid. of Rev. William Pye of Morpeth; bro. of Thomas Orde*. m. (1) 1781, Margaret Emma (d. 13 Sept. 1790), da. and h, of Richard Stephens of Charleston, S. Carolina, s.p.s. (2) 3 Dec. 1793, Jane, da. of John Frere* of Roydon, Norf. 1s. 1da. cr. Bt. 9 Aug. 1790.

Offices Held

Entered RN 1766, lt. 1774, cdr. 1777, capt. 1778, r.-adm. 1795, v.-adm. 1799, adm. 1805.

Gov. Dominica 1783-94.


Orde served in the Mediterranean, America and the West Indies, becoming governor of Dominica in 1783. His conduct there gave cause for complaint by the assembly, though he was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1790. He returned to active service in 1793 and in 1798 fell out with Lord St. Vincent, while third in command off Cadiz, over Nelson’s being preferred to himself for the Mediterranean command and his own demotion to fourth in command. He was ordered home, was refused his application for a court martial and challenged St. Vincent to a duel, which the King forbad. They were bound over to keep the peace, but Orde ‘a very proud man’, publicized the quarrel.1 His appointment to take command of a squadron off Cadiz in 1804 gave offence, in turn, to Nelson. When he retired before the superior force of the French admiral Villeneuve in April 1805, it was freely alleged that his preoccupation was to preserve the prizes he had seized.2 When, promoted admiral, he was a pall bearer at Nelson’s funeral, the latter’s friends referred to:

The defrauding Lord Nelson of his cruising ground, to put £100,000 in the pocket of Sir John Orde. The track of the homeward bound Spanish trade was his watery freehold, and nothing but the hardest hand of power, raised to suit Hampshire politics at the time, or to humiliate Lord St. Vincent the patron of Lord Nelson, could have prevented his deriving that extensive professional advantage.3

Having struck his flag, Orde was available for parliamentary service in 1807 when the death of his elder brother Lord Bolton vacated his nephew’s seat for Yarmouth on the Worsley Holmes interest. He was substituted for him for the rest of the Parliament. He supported government, defending them over the Copenhagen expedition, 8 Feb. 1808. ‘The gentlemen opposite’, he said ‘seemed to wish that we should give the sword to our enemy, and content ourselves with the scabbard.’ On 8 Mar. 1808 he opposed taking the management of Greenwich Hospital out of the hands of trustees. He opposed Cochrane’s motion hostile to Lord Gambier and supported the vote of thanks to him, 29 Jan. 1810. Having rallied to Perceval’s ministry on the address and the Scheldt expedition, 23, 26 Jan. 1810, he complained of the reflection cast on the officers who commanded the expedition, 19 Feb., and was in the government minority of 5 Mar. On 24 Mar. Canning reported to his wife:

Many people will vote as Sir John Orde has just now consumed an hour and a half in telling me he intends to do—with govt.—though disapproving the expedition and thinking the govt. unfit, but resolved to keep out the opposition, and in the confidence that the govt. must strengthen itself after the inquiry ...4

Orde duly voted with ministers on 30 Mar. (The Whigs had listed him ‘Government’.) He was in the minority against committing Burdett to the Tower 5 Apr. 1810, but a speech next day showed that he had no sympathy for his conduct.5 His last known vote was with ministers on the Regency question, 1 Jan. 1811.

Orde made no attempt to return to Parliament after 1812. He died 19 Feb. 1824.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Brian Murphy / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Geo. III Corresp. i. 567; Gent. Mag. (1824), i. 276; Farington, i. 236, 244.
  • 2. Leveson Gower, ii. 70.
  • 3. Add. 38737, f. 97.
  • 4. Harewood mss.
  • 5. Geo. III Corresp. v. 4126.