Hugh Orr of Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire and Massachusetts, USA.

Hugh Orr was born in the small town of Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire on 13 January 1717. His Father Robert was a maltster, meaning he made beer and probably operated a public house. His mother was Margaret and possibly also with the maiden name Orr. Lochwinnoch was for a very long time a centre for the Orrs in Scotland and marriage with cousins was quite common.

Hugh was brought up to be a tradesman - variously described as  a locksmith, door lock filer, a gunsmith. and manufacturer of agricultural tools such as plough shears and scythes. As was typical of the day he was able to turn his hand to most things and this he demonstrated in later life. In 1737 he left Scotland and went to America where he eventually settled about 1740 in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. In Bridgewater he set up the first tilt or trip hammer in the area and began to produce the new agricultural implements, the metal shears for ploughs  as well as other edge tools. His initiative and industry led to a spread of tool manufacturers in other states, including nearby Connecticut  and Rhode Island.

By the time of the conflagration with Britain he was well established as an iron founder and a manufacturer of arms. In 1748 he produced  500 muskets for the province of  Massachusetts Bay which were the first of their kind manufactured in America. During the Revolutionary War he was much involved in manufacturing of iron and brass cannon and cannon balls and set up a foundry with a Frenchman. In Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania, Vol 1 (Kent family) there is a note that

" May 15 1777, Colonel Hugh Orr is directed to complete twenty cannon, twelve - pounders, for the Continental ship "Raleigh", to be sent by Captain Thompson to Province, where he was to receive a quantity of pig iron from the ship "Columbus". "

Hugh Orr later extended his business interests to agricultural produce and flax seed which he exported to his father in Scotland. With the growth of his business interests Hugh began to purchase land, mainly in the Bridgewater area and, it transpires, largely from his relatives by marriage. It is quite likely that his increasing prosperity meant that he was able to help less well off relatives. The Native Soil Manuscripts Index provides several examples of his initiative and possibly philanthropy. 

It is a pity that these records are accompanied by some `smart Alec`  comments by the compiler which displays considerable ignorance as he tries to score points calling Hugh a `land baron` and the `infamous Orr` etc. Hugh Orr was an entrepreneur and a patriot and, moreover, a diligent worker for his family and his new country. Ignorant and moronic quips serve no useful purpose save to reflect on and shame their author.





Bridgewater, MA

bought of Timothy Edson, ninety rods and a quarter.


Mendon, MA

bought 5 acres of Ebenezer Byrom  for eight pounds.


Bridgewater, MA

bought of Ebenezer Byram 227 acres for 968.


Bridgewater, MA

bought of William Allan,10 acres and dwelling house for 80.



bought 1.1/2 acre from Byram for six pounds.


Newton ,MA

bought 6acres and 98 rods for 8.6s.8d.


Milton ,MA

bought 28 acres of Mary Cargill, for 100.



bought 24 acres of Jonathan Orcutt with dwelling house.


Bridgewater, MA

land from Eleazor Washburn - inheritance or forfeiture ?



bought late John Carey, cornmill 52.13s.4d


Ashfield, MA

bought of Jonathan Edson,1.1/2 acres 26 rods for six shillings.


Bridgewater, MA

acquired 6 acres of Eunice Cary. Settlement of some kind.



bought property of late John Alden for twenty four pounds.


Bridgewater, MA

bought of Alden land for twenty four pounds.



bought of Benjamin Alden 60 acres for 150.


Hartford, CT

bought 1.1/3 acres of Timothy Edson  for twenty shillings.


Falmouth, MA

bought of Sara Crosswell land in Plymouth $269.17



bought 32 acres for 245.11.0d.


Hugh Orr married Mary Bass (b 21 March 1724)  in East Bridgewater on 4 August 1742 and had at least three children: Jannet Orr, Susanna Orr (b 1752  d 20 December 1836) and Robert (b1746 d 5 Feb 1811) As Colonel Robert Orr this son was the armourer at Springfield.

Other children named by varying sources are: Hugh, James, Charlotte, Matilda, Rosanna, Jean/Jane, Bethia, Margaret , Bathsheba.

Links to the Pilgrim Fathers.

Mary Bass was the daughter of Captain Jonathan Bass (1697-17 May 1750) and Susanna Byram (15 Jan1649 -19 Sep 1783) . Captain Bass was the son of  Samuel Bass and Mary Adams and Susanna was the daughter of Nicholas Byram and Mary Edson. Going back  a further generation, Samuel Bass was the son of John Bass and Ruth Alden. This lady was the daughter of Pilgrim John Alden.

Nicholas Byram was the son of Nicholas Byram and Susannah Shaw.  Samuel Bass was the son of Samuel Bass and Anne Saville of Saffron Walden, Essex, England. 

A second line  links to Pilgrim William Bradford through Jannet Orr, the daughter of Hugh and Mary Bass. Jannet married Cushing Mitchel who was the son of Edward Mitchel and Elizabeth Cushing. Edward Mitchel married Alice Bradford, daughter of John Bradford and Mercy Warren. John Bradford was the son of William Bradford Jr and Alice Richards. William Jr. was the son of Pilgrim William Bradford and Alice Carpenter.

With a growing position and status in society Hugh Orr entered politics and for several years was Senator for Plymouth County, MA . He died in Bridgewater on 6 December 1798 in his 82nd year.  

Orr Name Study Ulster Scots Reference material