Lord John Boyd Orr of Scotland
Nobel Peace Prize Winner
LORD BOYD ORR OF BRECHIN
John Boyd Orr (September 23,
1880-June 25, 1971) was born in Kilmaurs,
Ayrshire, Scotland. His father, R. C. Orr, was a pious and intelligent man
whose sudden enthusiasms led to frequent reversals of fortune, but, although
his finances were often depleted, he and his wife and their seven children
enjoyed a pleasant life in their rural community. Having begun his education
in the village school, John at the age of thirteen was sent to Kilmarnock Academy,
twenty miles away, but he was more interested in the life of the navvies and
quarrymen who worked in his father's quarry than in his education and so was
returned to the village school. There he became a member of the staff as a
«pupil teacher», earning £20 a year by the time he was eighteen.
Aided by scholarships, he was
able to attend simultaneously a teachers'
training college and Glasgow University. Of these student days he says in his
autobiography that he worked hard in the arts curriculum but that his most
vivid recollections are of the sights and sounds of the old Glasgow slums which
he would prowl on Saturday nights(1).
Finding the three years he
spent teaching in a secondary school neither
financially profitable nor intellectually satisfying, he returned to Glasgow
University in 1905, enrolling for a degree in medicine and for one in the
biological sciences. Degrees in hand in record time, he served as a ship's
surgeon for four months and for six weeks as a replacement for a vacationing
doctor, but he forsook the practice of medicine for research, accepting a
two-year Carnegie research fellowship in physiology.
On April 1, 1914, Dr. Boyd
Orr arrived in Aberdeen to assume direction of the
Nutrition Institute, only to be told that there was no Institute in reality,
only an approved scheme of research. Within a month, Boyd Orr had drawn up
plans for an impressive research facility, too impressive, indeed, to be
financed. The compromise he made is symbolic of the nature of the man: he was
willing to delay the building of the total structure provided that the first
wing be made of granite, not of wood as originally suggested.
His work was interrupted by
World War I during which he served first in the
Royal Army Medical Corps, earning two decorations for bravery in action, then
in the Royal Navy, and finally, simultaneously in both, for he was loaned by
the Navy to the Army to do research in military dietetics.
After the war Boyd Orr returned
to the Institute and in the next decade or
so, put to work a hitherto unsuspected talent for money raising. The first
new building of Rowett Research Institute - the name now given to the
Institute in honor of a major donor - was dedicated by Queen Mary in 1922;
there followed the Walter Reid Library in 1923-1924, the thousand-acre John
Duthie Webster Experimental Farm in 1925, Strathcona House, to accommodate
research workers and visiting scientists, in 1930. In 1931 he founded and
became editor of Nutrition Abstracts and Reviews.
Time-consuming as his various
administrative duties were, he was still able
to direct fundamental research in nutrition, primarily in animal nutrition in
these early days of the Institute. His influential Minerals in Pastures and
Their Relation to Animal Nutrition (1929) was published in this period.
During the 1930's, however, after extensive experiments with milk in the diet
of mothers, children, and the underprivileged, and after large-scale surveys
of nutritional problems in many nations throughout the world, Boyd Orr's
interests swung to human nutrition, not only as a researcher but also as a
propagandist for healthful diets for all peoples everywhere. His report of
1936, Food, Health and Income, revealed the «appalling amount of
malnutrition» among the people of England regardless of economic status(2) and
became the basis for the later British policy on food during World War II,
which he helped to formulate as a member of Churchill's Scientific Committee
on Food Policy.
At war's end, Boyd Orr, aged
sixty-five, retired from Rowett Institute, but
accepted three new positions:
a three-year term as rector of Glasgow University, a seat in the Commons
representing the Scottish universities, and the post of director-general of
the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Boyd Orr found his work with
the FAO exasperating because of the FAO's lack
of authority and funds, but he energetically pursued every avenue for
improving the world production and equitable distribution of food. In 1946,
under the aegis of the FAO, he set up an International Emergency Food
Council, with thirty-four member nations, to meet the postwar food crisis. He
traveled extensively throughout the world trying to get support for a
comprehensive food plan and was bitterly disappointed when his proposal for
the establishment of a World Food Board failed in 1947 when neither Britain
nor the United States would vote for it.
Believing that the FAO could
not, at that point, become a spearhead for a
movement to achieve world unity and peace, Boyd Orr resolved to resign as
director-general and to go into business. Within three years he earned a
bigger net income from directorships than he had ever had from scientific
research, and with capital gains made on the Stock Exchange, he established a
comfortable personal estate. It was symbolic of this period of his life that
he should have been informed of his Nobel Peace Prize award by his banker.
The prize money, however, he donated to the National Peace Council, the World
Movement for World Federal Government, and various other such organizations.
In the years following the
Second World War, Boyd Orr was associated with
virtually every organization that has agitated for world government, in many
instances devoting his considerable administrative and propagandistic skills
to the cause.«The most important question today», he says in his
autobiography, «is whether man has attained the wisdom to adjust the old
systems to suit the new powers of science and to realize that we are now one
world in which all nations will ultimately share the same fate. (3)
John Boyd Orr, himself a scientist-adjuster
of old systems, died at his home
in Scotland in June, 1971, at the age of ninety.
1. John Boyd Orr, As I Recall,
2. Ibid., pp. 114-118.
3. Ibid., p. 288.
Books by Lord John Boyd Orr
History of the Scottish Church Crisis of 1904
Minerals in Pastures and their Relations to Animal Nutrition (1928)
Food, Health, and Income (1936)
Feeding the People in Wartime (1940)
Fighting for What (1943)
Food and the People (1944)
The White Man's Dilemma (1952)
What's Happening in China (1959 with Peter Townsend)
Feast and Famine (1960)
Boyd Orr, Lord John, As I Recall,
with an Introduction by Ritchie Calder.
London, MacGibbon & Kee, 1966.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, Fighting for What? London, Macmillan, 1942.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, Food and the People. London, Pilot Press, 1943.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, Food, Health and Income. London, Macmillan, 1936.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, Food:
The Foundation of World Unity. London, National
Peace Council, 1948.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, International
Liaison Committee of Organisations for
Peace: A New Strategy of Peace. London, National Peace Council, 1950.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, Minerals
in Pastures and Their Relation to Animal
Nutrition. London, Lewis, 1929.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, The National
Food Supply and Its Influence on National
Health. London, King, 1934.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, «Nutritional
Science and State Planning», in What
Science Stands For, ed. by John Boyd Orr et al. London, Allen & Unwin, 1937.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, The White
Man's Dilemma: Food and the Future. With the
cooperation of David Lubbock. London, Allen & Unwin, 1953. (2nd ea., 1964.)
Boyd Orr, Lord John, The Wonderful
World of Food: The Substance of Life.
Garden City, N.Y., Garden City Books, 1958.
Boyd Orr, Lord John, and David
Lubbock, Feeding the People in Wartime.
London, Macmillan, 1940.
Calder, Ritchie, «The
Man and his Message», in Food for a Hungry World, a
special issue of Survey Graphic, 37 (March, 1948) 99-104.
Current Biography, 7 (1946). New York, Wilson.
Hambidge, Gove, The Story of FAO. New York, Van Nostrand, 1955.
Vries, Eva de, Life and Work
of Sir John Boyd Orr. Wageningen, The
Netherlands, Veenman, 1948.
From Nobel Lectures, Peace
John Boyd Orr's Genealogy
Generation No. 1
1. UNKNOWN1 Orr
Children of UNKNOWN Orr are:
2. i. ANN2 ORR, b. 1845, Lochwinnoch, Renfrew, Scotland.
3. ii. R. C. ORR.
Generation No. 2
2. ANN2 ORR (UNKNOWN1)
was born 1845 in Lochwinnoch, Renfrew, Scotland. She
married MALCOLM CAMPBELL FULTON July 02, 1868 in Lochwinnoch, Renfrew,
Scotland, son of JOHN FULTON and MARGARET CAMPBELL. He was born March 27,
1836 in Beith, Ayr, Scotland.
Children of ANN ORR and MALCOLM
i. ANN3 FULTON, b. April 09, 1869, Middle or New Parish, Greenock,
4. ii. JAMES ORR FULTON, b. August 30, 1871, Middle-East-West Parishes,
Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland; d. January 25, 1938, Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio.
iii. MARGARET FULTON, b. December 29, 1874, Middle or New Parish,
Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland.
iv. JOHN FULTON, b. September 16, 1873, Middle-East-West Parishes,
Greenock, Rewfrew, Scotland.
3. R. C.2 ORR (UNKNOWN1) He married UNKNOWN BOYD.
Children of R. ORR and UNKNOWN
i. UNKNOWN3 ORR.
ii. UNKNOWN ORR.
iii. UNKNOWN ORR.
iv. UNKNOWN ORR.
v. UNKNOWN ORR.
vi. UNKNOWN ORR.
vii. JOHN BOYD ORR, b. September 23, 1880, Klimaurs, Ayrshire,
Scotland; d. June 25, 1971, Scotland; m. ELIZABETH PEARSON CALLUM.
Generation No. 3
4. JAMES ORR3 FULTON
(ANN2 ORR, UNKNOWN1) was born August 30, 1871 in
Middle-East-West Parishes, Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland, and died January 25,
1938 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio. He married CLARA MIDDLETON in Sierra
Leona, West Africa, daughter of JOHN MIDDLETON and ELIZABETH CUNDY. She was
born May 26, 1877 in Lancashire, England (Liverpool), and died April 26, 1948
in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio.
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Orr's of Annandale Farm, Kilmaurs parish
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