John Ormsby

Trinity College Dublin -Front Arch,_Dublin,_Ireland_(Front_Arch).jpg
King's Bench Walk Inner Temple London,_Inner_Temple,_London-geograph-4828836-by-Anthony-ONeil.jpg
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Gortnor Abbey

Scholar / Author / Translator

This Mayo author was famous for his literary works also his translations of books from Spanish into English.

John Ormsby was born at Gortner Abbey, Crossmolina on  April 25th 1829.  He was the eldest son of Marianne 3rd daughter of Humphrey Jones, Mullinabro, Co. Kilkenny & George Ormsby (1836) a Captain of the 3rd Dragoons & High Sheriff of Mayo during 1836. [i]

John Ormsby was born at Gortner Abbey, Mayo during 1829. (The Times 8th November 1895 (page 10) issue 34729 column B ) [ii]

John Ormsby was born at Gartner Abbey, Crossmolina during 1829:


John Ormsby’s parents demise occurred during his childhood  He was placed under the guardianship of Denis Brown Dean of Emly. [iii]


John Ormsby was educated at Dr. Roman’s private school at Seapoint, Dublin.  He continued his studies at Trinity College, Dublin where he graduated with a B A during 1843. [iv]

Mr. Ormsby was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. (The Times ) [v]

John Ormsby received further education at T.C.D.  He graduated during 1843 with a B. A.:


During 1848 he won a silver medal in chemistry at the University of London [vi]

He was the recipient of a silver medal for chemistry at the University of London. (The Times ) [vii]

Avid Reader

John Ormsby was an avid reader of eighteenth century literature especially the works of Defoe, Fielding also Boswell. [viii]

Mr. Ormsby was a member of the Middle Temple but he was never called to the Bar. (The Times ) [ix]

Although admitted as a member of the Middle Temple he was never called to the Bar.  John Ormsby lived for a time at King’s Bench Walk in the Temple. [x]

Alpine Club

He was a member of the club from its inauguration during 1858.  John Ormsby was one of the first club members during August 1859 to climb the Pic de Grivola in the Graian Alps. [xi]

During 1862 Mr. Ormsby was a prominent member of the Alpine Club. (The Times ) [xii]

John Ormsby created a record as an alpine climber during his lifetime:


John Ormsby contributed articles  to  The Saturday Review  in Fraser’s Magazine in  The Quarterly Review, The Cornhill  also Pall Mall Gazette.   He contributed to the second series of Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers  an account of his ascent of the Pic de Grivola in the Graian Alps. Two years later John Ormsby published his Autumn Rambles in North Africa  that was a sketch of two years of wanderings between Constantine & Carthage.  During 1876 John Ormsby collected his Stray Papers  into a volume.  Published in 1879 his translation of the Poema del Cid  was (except Frere’s fragmentary renderings) the only version available in English.  (The Times) [xiii]

John Ormsby had articles published in The Saturday Review, Fraser’s Magazine, The Quarterly Review, The Cornhill also Pall Mall Gazette.  During 1862 he contributed to the second series of Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers  (an amusing account of his ascent of the Pic de Grivola.)  His Autumn Rambles in North Africa appeared during 1864.  During 1876 he published Stray Paper  that included Sanford and Merton, Mme. Tussaud’s  also Swift on the Turf. [xiv]

John Ormsby translated The Cid  & Don Quixote into English verse & prose :


Ormsby’s translations feature in more editions than any other nineteenth century English version of novels.  They have been included in the heritage book club series of great novels & in the great books of the western world set.  His translation of the Poem of El Cid were published during 1879, it was dedicated to Pascuel de Gayangos.  His translation of Don Quixote de la Manche  by Miguel de Cervantes Saaveda during 1885 was the first to appear on the internet.  He not only translated the book, he also produced a long also a very informative introduction.  He provided a short biography of Cervantes with his own footnotes. [xv]


John Ormsby’s demise occurred on 30th October 1895 at Ramsgate in London.  He is buried within Ramsgate Cemetery, Ramsgate in Kent during 1895. [xvi]

John Ormsby demise occurred during 1895 at Ramsgate:


John Ormsby he will be remembered best by his contribution presented in the domain of Spanish literature.  His acquaintance with Spain also its political & literary history was both deep & wide.  His rendering of Don Quixote in 1885 is valuable both for its accurate scholarship also its bibliographical appendices. (The Times ) [xvii]

Further Information

A revised version of John Ormsby’s translation of  Don Quixote (Kenneth Douglas & Joseph Jones) was published in New York (page 126) – (Archived from the original on 4th August 2011, Retrieved 1st February 2009 ) [xviii]

Publications re John Ormsby included from the following: Gifford William Coleridge, Sir John Taylor; Lockhart, John Gibson; Elwin, Whitwell; MacPherson, William; Smith, William; Murray, Sir John; Prothero, George Walter (1886) ‘The Quarterly Review’  (Archived from the original on 4th August 2011, Retrieved 1 February 2009) [xix]

Review of Ormsby  1885 H-Net Discussion Networks (Archived from the original on 7th June 2013, Retrieved 1 February 2009 ):

John Ormsby’s translation of Don Quixote de la Mancha may be downloaded at this link:

John Ormsby’s preface to the  translation of Don Quixote de la Mancha  is available to view at this site:

This scholar is referenced at this site:

Further information is available at these sites:  /





[iv] Ibid







[xi] Ibid


[xiii] Ibid


[xv] Ibid

[xvi] Ibid



[xix] Ibid


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