William Orr was a blacksmith at Monticello. On April 3, 1781, Thomas Jefferson noted in his memorandum book, "Sent David Watson a British deserter, house joiner by trade, to work at Monticello."1 In August 1781, there is a payment to "Wm. Orr the smith,"2 and then, on the following January 8, "Wm. Orr the smith begins to work at £3. the month."3 Over the following months, the names of Watson and Orr are often linked in Jefferson's accounts.
In his memoirs,Isaac Granger Jefferson remembered the two workmen and mentioned them together, "The blacksmith was Billy Ore; the carriage maker Davy Watson ..."4 Isaac also remarked that, "Both workmen, both smoked pipes, and both drinkers. Drank whiskey; git drunk and sing; take a week at a time drinkin' and singin'." Jefferson's accounts substantiate Isaac's memories. After hiring Orr in January 1782, there are many entries over the next several months of charges of whiskey to both Watson and Orr. In reference to Orr, Jefferson noted in February 1782, "He has lost 5. days of work,"5 and in March, "Orr has been absent 4. days."6 In spite of their conviviality, they were apparently skilled workmen, as Isaac relates in his memoirs that "Mr. Jefferson came down to Williamsburg in a phaeton made by Davy Watson. Billy Ore did the ironwork."7 Both men continued to work at Monticello through 1783.