Lord was born in 1906 in Plainfield, New Jersey to Carroll P. Lord, a New England cotton merchant, and Frances E. Troy of Asheville, North Carolina. The family moved South two years later. He graduated from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee and received a law degree from the University of North Carolina in 1931.
Lord became active in Mercer County politics, first elected to the Lawrence Township committee in 1947. The following year he took control of the Mercer County Democratic organization and became a powerful force in state Democratic politics. He was credited with masterminding the election of Robert B. Meyner as Governor of New Jersey in 1953, after a decade of Republican rule. Meyner appointed Lord to the board of the Port Authority.
In 1960, Lord was the Democratic nominee for United States Senate to face incumbent Clifford P. Case, but he was defeated by a large margin, despite the fact that John F. Kennedy narrowly won New Jersey in that year's presidential election. After the defeat Lord was elected chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. He continued to play the role of Democratic kingmaker, helping his former law partner Richard J. Hughes win the gubernatorial election of 1961.
Lord and his first wife Margaret Eastburn had one child, Thorn Jr. After a divorce, he married Nina Underwood, ex-wife of David Hunter McAlpin, Jr. They had a daughter, also named Nina. By 1965, the Lords were separated. Apparently depressed by the estrangement, Lord committed suicide by garroting himself with an electric shaver cord at the home of a friend in Princeton.
- "Jersey Party Chief Is Found Hanged". The New York Times, June 17, 1965. Accessed June 8, 2008.
- Office History Archived 2008-12-30 at the Wayback Machine, United States Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey. Accessed June 8, 2008.
- "Battle for the Senate", Time, October 17, 1960. Accessed June 8, 2008.
- "Died", Time, June 25, 1965. Accessed June 8, 2008.
- "Thorn Lord Case Ruled a Suicide". The New York Times, June 18, 1965. Accessed June 8, 2008.
|Party political offices|
Charles R. Howell
| Democratic Nominee for the U.S. Senate (Class 2) from New Jersey
Warren W. Wilentz
George E. Brunner
| Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee
Robert J. Burkhardt