OMMANNEY, Francis Molyneux (?1774-1840), of 22 Norfolk Street, Strand, Westminster.
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Family and Education
b. ?1774, 2nd. s. of Capt. Cornthwaite Ommanney, RN, of Millbank Row, Westminster by Martha, da. of Henry Manaton of Kilworthy, nr. Tavistock, Devon. m. 16 Oct. 1801, Georgiana Frances Hawkes of Cecil Street, Strand,1 7s. 2da. Kntd. 17 May 1820.
In his will Ommanney’s father, who rose to the rank of rear-admiral, recorded his gratitude to his brother Edward, of Bloomsbury Square, ‘for the assistance he has given me to establish my children in life.’2 While two of his five brothers went to sea (both attaining flag-rank) and two more joined the army, Francis probably entered Edward’s naval agency business at an early age. The firm, known originally as Ommanney and Marsh, of Savage Gardens, Tower Hill, had become Ommanney & Co. by 1772 and Ommanney and Page by 1781. After a period at America Square, Minories, the business had moved by 1791 to 70 Great Russell Street, where it remained until about 1801, when it transferred to Cecil Street, Strand, as Ommanney and Druce. It seems likely that when Edward Ommanney died without male issue in 1811, Francis became the senior partner, with John Druce as his colleague.3 The agency moved to 22 Norfolk Street, where it was to remain for the rest of Ommanney’s life, and from about 1819 he appears to have taken sole control of the business.
Ommanney may have been descended from Huguenot immigrants who had settled in Devon and his father owned a house at Plymouth,4 but it was essentially as a carpet-bagger that he stood for the venal borough of Barnstaple at the general election of 1818. He topped the poll in a three-cornered contest, but was lucky to survive the petition lodged by the defeated candidate, which included him as well as the other successful man, Sir Manasseh Lopes, in the charge of bribery and treating. The case against him was not pressed before the committee of inquiry and he was therefore declared duly elected; but evidence adduced at this and later investigations into corruption at Barnstaple suggested that he had handed out money at least as freely as the scapegoat Lopes.
Ommanney joined the handful of assorted radicals and independents who divided against the Westminster hustings bill, 3 Feb., but he voted with government on the complaint against Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar., Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819. He voted against the extension of the franchise at Penryn, 22 June. He had spoken against the chimney sweepers regulation bill, 12, 17 and 22 Feb., arguing that the existing laws afforded sufficient protection to the ‘gay, cheerful and contented’ climbing boys, whose replacement by machinery of dubious efficiency would increase the burden on the poor rates. He probably supported most aspects of the repressive legislation of late 1819, but he bridled at the provision made for night searches in the seizure of arms bill: he voted against the offending clause, 14 Dec., and declared his intention of voting against the entire measure because of its retention, 15 Dec., though his name does not appear among the minority who subsequently voted for Lambton’s wrecking amendment. He was in the majority in favour of the banishment clause of the blasphemous libels bill, 23 Dec.
Ommanney, whose naval agency was carried on after his death by one or more of his sons, died 7 Nov. 1840, ‘aged 66’.5