OMMANNEY, Francis Molyneux (1774-1840), of Norfolk Street, Strand, Mdx.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Educationb. 4 Oct. 1774,1 2nd s. of R.-Adm. Cornthwaite Ommanney (d. 1801) of Millbank Row, Mdx. and Martha, da. of Henry Manaton of Kilworthy, nr. Tavistock, Devon. m. 16 Oct. 1801, Georgiana Frances, da. of Jeremiah Hawkes of Cecil Street, Strand,2 7s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. kntd. 17 May 1820. d. 7 Nov. 1840.
In 1819 Ommanney assumed sole control of the London naval agency founded by his uncle Edward, who had given him a start in life. The following year he stood again for Barnstaple, where he had been successful in a notoriously corrupt contest in 1818, and was returned unopposed. He was known to be ‘friendly’ to Lord Liverpool’s ministry, and he received a knighthood shortly after the election.3 He was an active and conscientious, if rather pompous Member, whose unsophisticated approach to the art of debating provided the House with a number of comic interludes. He supported the insolvent debtors bill, 5 June 1820. He maintained that the lords of the admiralty had abrogated their ‘duty ... to the country in reducing the navy so low’, 9 June. His observations on Hume’s notice of a motion regarding the private property of George III were cut short by the Speaker, 3 July.4 Next day he voted against economies in revenue collection. He approved of the East India volunteers bill, 11 July 1820.5 He voted in defence of ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided with them on the ordnance estimates, 16 Feb., the state of the revenue, 6 Mar., the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., 3 Apr., and the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June. He ignored cries for a division to oppose economies at the admiralty, 4 May.6 He voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb., and parliamentary reform, 9 May. He divided against the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May, and objected to abolishing the capital penalty for forgery of country bank notes, 31 May.7 He supported a drastic reduction in the compensation offered to General Desfourneaux for losses incurred in the capture of Guadeloupe, 15, 28 June, and spoke against the extra post bill, 29 June 1821.8
He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 11 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He declared that he would support the ‘repeal of all taxes that peculiarly affected the poor’, 28 Feb., and voted for gradual reduction of the salt duties. However, he voted against their total repeal, 28 June, when he complained that government economies had reduced many civil servants to a state of beggary. He divided against removing Catholic peers’ disabilities, 30 Apr., inquiry into Irish tithes, 19 June, and the motion condemning the lord advocate’s conduct towards the Scottish press, 25 June. He voted against the Calcutta bankers’ claim for recovery of debts from the East India Company, 4 July. He voted for the Canada bill, 18 July, and the aliens bill, 19 July 1822. He divided against parliamentary reform, 20 Feb., 2 June 1823, when he dissented from the Devon petition on the subject. He voted against further tax reductions, 3 Mar., repeal of the duty on houses valued at under £5, 10 Mar.,9 and inquiry into the currency, 12 June. He divided against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and inquiries into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., and delays in chancery, 5 June. He voted against repeal of the usury laws, 27 June. On 14 Mar. he moved to add £1,000 to the admiralty estimates to provide for an extra junior lord, but found no support. He also drew attention to the hardship suffered by the widows of assistant naval surgeons, and was called to order after accusing the admiralty secretary, Croker, of lying.10 In the debate on the system of naval promotions, 19 June, he recommended that these should be made strictly according to seniority and referred amid mounting laughter to the case of his own father, who had been ‘greatly ill-used and exposed to the most galling and heart-breaking neglect’. At the end of his speech his audience was hysterical, and he failed to find a seconder for his amendment. Next day, in a ‘low and indistinct’ tone of voice, he offered some explanation of this outburst and admitted having said that a man who broke ‘sacred promises’ deserved ‘the name of a reptile’. He then moved for information on the recent incidence of piracy in the Caribbean, with a view to securing ‘some public regulation of reward’ for naval officers and crews who captured or destroyed pirate vessels, a subject on which he had previously written to the prime minister. At the foreign secretary Canning’s suggestion the motion was deferred until 23 June 1823, when it was agreed to. Ommanney raised the subject again, 6 Feb. 1824, securing an address to the king for a return of information. This was presented and printed, 15 June 1824, and in the following session government carried a measure (6 Geo. IV, c. 49) based on Ommanney’s ideas.11
He voted against the production of papers regarding Catholic office-holders, 19 Feb. 1824. He welcomed an increase in the navy estimates, 16 Feb., and presented a Barnstaple petition for repeal of the coal duties, 23 Feb.12 He again divided against the usury laws repeal bill, 27 Feb., yet voted to go into committee on it, 8 Apr. He was responsible for more farce in committee on the county courts bill, 26 Mar., when he moved to compensate the receiver of king’s bench for lost emoluments. Although it was pointed out that no such office existed (he had confused it with the clerkship of the outer treasury), he threatened to divide the committee, only to withdraw in confusion; it was suggested that he ought to compensate the House for wasted time.13 He favoured relieving clerks in civil departments of government from hardship caused by the Superannuation Act, 13 May.14 He seconded an unsuccessful motion to refer the marine insurance bill to a select committee, 3 June, and raised a laugh by moving an amendment to make it inoperative until the year 2000; he was defeated by 33-12. He voted against the motion condemning the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June, and for the Irish insurrection bill, 14 June 1824. He divided for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He afforded the House further amusement, 6 May, by declaring that the ‘homage’ paid to papal bulls was ‘contrary to the second commandment, which prohibited idolatory’. He voted against the Irish franchise bill, 9 May. He divided for the financial provision for the duke of Cumberland, 6, 10 June. He opposed Hume’s proposal to end flogging in the navy, 9 June 1825, with the observation that thanks to his repeal of the combination laws ‘every town in the kingdom swarmed with insubordinate workmen standing out against their employers’. He complained of the low pay of admiralty clerks and again spoke of the problems experienced by assistant-surgeons’ widows in securing pensions, 21 Feb. 1826. There was ribald laughter when he alluded to the ‘protection’ which he had personally given to two such women.15 He defended the government’s plan to give the president of the board of trade a ministerial salary and argued against the alternative proposal to merge the office with that of treasurer of the navy, 6, 7 Apr. He had something to say on the funding of exchequer bills, 17 Apr. He divided with the majority against the spring guns bill, 27 Apr.16 It is unclear whether it was he or Lord Oxmantown who voted against Russell’s resolutions on electoral bribery, 26 May 1826. He was initially expected to stand again for Barnstaple at the general election that summer, but he withdrew before the poll and found no way back into Parliament.17
Ommanney died in November 1840. His son Octavius carried on the naval agency, which in 1862 amalgamated with a firm of bankers and naval agents to become Hallett, Ommanney and Company; it had disappeared by the turn of the century.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. IGI (Surr.).
- 2. IGI (England).
- 3. Add. 38458, f. 310.
- 4. The Times, 4 July 1820.
- 5. Ibid. 12 July 1820.
- 6. Ibid. 5 May 1820.
- 7. Ibid. 1 June 1821.
- 8. Ibid. 16, 29, 30 June 1821.
- 9. Ibid. 11 Mar. 1823.
- 10. Ibid. 15 Mar. 1823.
- 11. Ibid. 20, 21 June 1823, 7 Feb. 1824; Add. 38293, f. 43; 38294, f. 300.
- 12. The Times, 24 Feb. 1824.
- 13. Ibid. 27 Mar. 1824.
- 14. Ibid. 14 May 1824.
- 15. Ibid. 22 Feb. 1826.
- 16. Norf. RO, Gunton mss 1/21.
- 17. The Times, 27 May, 5 June 1826.