Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Ormerod, Eleanor Anne

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ORMEROD, ELEANOR ANNE (1828–1901), economic entomologist, born at Sedbury Park, West Gloucestershire, on 11 May 1828, was youngest daughter of {subst:d|George|Ormerod}} [q. v.] by his wife Sarah, daughter of John Latham, M.D. (1761-1843) [q. v.]. Three of her seven brothers, George Wareing, William Piers, and Edward Latham, are noticed separately. Of her two sisters, Georgiana enthusiastically co-operated in her work till her death on 19 Aug. 1896.

Eleanor Ormerod was educated at home in elementary subjects by her mother, who instilled in all her children strong religious feeling and artistic tastes. Latin and modern languages, in which she became an adept, Eleanor studied by herself. She early cherished a love of flowers, showed unusual powers of observation, and made free use of her father's library. With her sister Georgiana she studied painting under William Hunt, and both became efficient artists.

As a child Eleanor aided her brother William in his botanical work, and was soon expert in preparing specimens. But it was not, according to her own account, until 12 March 1852, when she obtained a copy of Stephens's 'Manual of British Beetles,' that she began the study of entomology, and laid the foundation for her researches into insect life. In 1868 she actively aided the Royal Horticultural Society in forming a collection illustrative of economic entomology, and for her services received in 1870 the silver Flora medal. To the International Polytechnic Exhibition at Moscow in 1872 she sent a collection of plaster models (prepared by herself) as well as electrotypes of plants, fruits, leaves, and reptiles, for which she was awarded silver medals and also received the gold medal of honour from Moscow University.

After the death of the father, on 9 Oct. 1873, the Ormerod family was broken up. Eleanor and her sister Georgiana lived together at Torquay, and then at Dunster Lodge, Spring Grove, Isleworth, where they were near Kew Gardens and in close touch with Sir Joseph and Lady Hooker. At Isleworth Miss Ormerod undertook a comprehensive series of meteorological observations. She was the first woman to be elected fellow of the Meteorological Society (1878). The sisters finally removed to Torrington House, St. Albans, in September 1887.

In the spring of 1877 Miss Ormerod issued the pamphlet, 'Notes for Observations of Injurious Insects,' which was the first of twenty-four 'Annual Reports of Observations of Injurious Insects' (1877-1900). With a view to the preparation of these reports she carried on till her death a large correspondence with observers all over the country and in foreign lands. Her reports, fully illustrated, were printed at her own expense and sent free to her correspondents and to all public bodies at home and abroad that were interested in the subject. A 'General Index of the Annual Reports' (1877–1898) was compiled by Mr. Robert Newstead, subsequently lecturer on medical entomology in Liverpool University. At the same time Miss Ormerod was generous in advice, notably on insect pests, to all correspondents who sought her counsel. Many of those from abroad she hospitably entertained on their visits to this country. She led an especially useful crusade against the ox-warble fly and the house sparrow or 'avian rat,' and she showed how these and other farm and forest, garden and orchard pests could best be resisted.

From 1882 to 1892 Miss Ormerod was consulting entomologist to the Royal Agricultural Society of England. On the day of her assuming the office (June 1882) she met with an accident at Waterloo railway station which resulted in permanent lameness. Her first official work was to prepare, with her sister, 'six diagrams illustrating some common injurious insects, with life histories and methods of prevention,' which were issued by the society.

Her work was incessant, and she declined the help of a coadjutor. She greatly valued the co-operation in her scientific efforts of Professor Westwood, Life president of the Entomological Society, of Dr. C. V, Riley, entomologist of the department of agriculture, U.S.A., and of Professor Huxley. With Huxley she sat from 1882 to 1886 on the committee of economic entomology appointed by the education department, and gave important advice as to the improvement of the collections in the South Kensington and Bethnal Green Museums.

Miss Ormerod also lectured with success. From October 1881 to June 1884 she was special lecturer on economic entomology at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, delivering six valuable lectures on insects. Ten lectures delivered at South Kensington Museum were published as ’Guide to the Methods of Insect Life' (1884). In 1889 she lectured at the Farmers' Club, of which she was elected an honorary member.

Miss Ormerod's activities did not lessen in her last years, although the death of her sister in 1896 greatly depressed her. Many honours were awarded her by agricultural societies in all parts of the world. On 14 April 1900 she was made hon. LL.D. of Edinburgh, being the first woman to receive the honour, and being greeted by the vice-chancellor. Sir Ludovic Grant, 'as the protectress of agriculture and the fruits of the earth, a beneficent Demeter of the nineteenth century.' Although so energetic in public work. Miss Ormerod had little sympathy with the agitation for woman's suffrage. She died at Torrington House, St. Albans, of malignant disease of the liver, on 19 July 1901, and was buried at St. Albans.

In addition to the 'Annual Reports' and 'The Cobham Journals,' abstracts and summaries of meteorological observations, made by Miss Caroline Molesworth, 1825-1850 (Stanford, 1880), she published 'A Manual of Remedies and Means of Prevention for the Attacks of Insects on Food Crops, Forest Trees, and Fruit' (1881 ; 2nd edit. 1890) ; 'Injurious Fruit and Farm Insects of South Africa' (1889) ; 'A Text Book of Agricultural Entomology, being a Plain Introduction to the Classification of Insects and Methods of Insect Life' (1892) ; 'Hand Book of Insects Injurious to Orchard and Bush Fruits' (1898) ; and several important papers on ox bot or warble fly, all beiag comprised in ’Flies Injurious to Stock' (i.e. sheep, horse, and ox) (1900) her latest work.

A lifelike oil painting of Miss Ormerod in academic costume (1900) hangs in Edinburgh University court room. To the university she presented a set of insect diagrams, hand-painted by her sister Georgiana, and a collection of insect cases furnished by herself, besides bequeathing unconditionally a sum of 5000’'l. This money has been applied to general purposes. An offer to the university by her executor of her fine working library, on condition that her bequest should be devoted to scientific objects, was refused.

[Eleanor Ormerod, LL.D., Economic Entomologist, Autobiography and Correspondence, edited by the present writer, with portrait and illustrations, 1904 ; The Times, 20 July 1901 ; Canadian Entomologist, vol. 33, Sept. 1901 ; Royal Agric. Soc. Journal, vol. 62, 1901 ; Men and Women of the Time, 1899.]

R. W.