The city is named for James Ormond I, an Anglo-Irish-Scottish sea captain commissioned by King Ferdinand VII of Spain to bring Franciscan settlers to this part of Florida. Ormond had served Britain and Spain in the Napoleonic Wars as a ship captain, and was rewarded for his services to Spain by King Ferdinand VII. In 1821, Florida was acquired from Spain by the United States, but hostilities during the Second Seminole War delayed settlement until after 1842. In 1875, the city was founded as New Britain by inhabitants from New Britain, Connecticut, but would be incorporated in 1880 as Ormond for its early plantation owner.
With its hard, white beach, Ormond became popular for the wealthy seeking relief from northern winters during the Floridian boom in tourism after the Civil War. The St. Johns & Halifax Railroad arrived in 1886, and the first bridge across the Halifax River was built in 1887. John Anderson and James Downing Price opened the Ormond Hotel on January 1, 1888. Henry Flagler bought the hotel in 1890 and expanded it to accommodate 600 guests. The hotel was once a well-known landmark which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 however; the hotel was razed in 1992.