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Ormerod, George (1785-1873) (DNB00)


ORMEROD, GEORGE (1785–1873), historian of Cheshire, born in High Street, Manchester, on 20 Oct. 1785, was only son of George Ormerod of Bury, Lancashire, by Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Johnson of Tyldesley in the same county (Ormerod, Cheshire, 2nd edit. ii. 376–8; cf. Manchester School Register, Chetham Soc., i. 56). He was sent to the King's School, Chester, of which the Rev. Thomas Bancroft was then master (ib. i. 366 n.) On Bancroft's preferment to the vicarage of Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire, Ormerod accompanied him thither as a private pupil. He matriculated from Brasenose College, Oxford, on 21 April 1803, and received the honorary degree of M.A. in 1807 and that of D.C.L. in 1818 (Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886, iii. 1044). In 1811 he purchased an estate at Chorlton, in the parish of Backford, Cheshire. He afterwards became proprietor of Sedbury Park, Gloucestershire, an estate situated on the beautiful peninsula of Beachley, between the Severn and the Wye. Offa's Dyke ran across the park, and that great earthwork Ormerod personally traced through its whole course. At Sedbury he dwelt for the rest of his long life, making, however, occasional excursions to London or the provinces to add to his antiquarian collections or to lay papers before learned societies.

Ormerod was elected F.S.A. on 16 Feb. 1809 and F.R.S. on 25 Feb. 1819. He was also fellow of the Geological Society. He gradually became blind in his later years and died at Sedbury Park on 9 Oct. 1873. His library was sold in 1875. By his marriage on 2 Aug. 1808 to Sarah (1784–1860), eldest daughter of John Latham, M.D., F.R.S. [q. v.], of Bradwall Hall, Cheshire, he had seven sons and three daughters. George Wareing (his second son), William Piers (his fifth son), and Edward Latham Ormerod (his sixth son), are noticed separately.

His eldest son, Thomas Johnson Ormerod, a pupil of Dr. Arnold at Laleham, graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford, of which college he was a fellow from 1831 to 1838; was appointed Hebrew lecturer at Brasenose in 1832, was created archdeacon of Suffolk in 1846, and held the rectory of Redenhall, Norfolk, from 1847 until his resignation on moving to Sedbury Park shortly before his death on 2 Dec. 1874. He was an authority on Semitic languages, and contributed to Smith's ‘Biblical Dictionary.’ Ormerod's youngest daughter, Eleanor Anne Ormerod, is a distinguished entomologist.

Early in life Ormerod showed a taste for heraldry and topography. About 1808 he began to make large collections for the history of Cheshire. In Chester Castle he discovered an immense number of original documents, and he subsequently examined in the British Museum the Randle Holmes' copious collections [see Holme, Randle], which proved to be no very accurate abstracts of the Chester Castle records. A valuable loan of books and documents was also made to him by Hugh Cholmondeley, dean of Chester, whose sympathy and aid Ormerod warmly acknowledged. From 1813 to 1819 he was almost exclusively occupied in writing his ‘History’ and seeing it through the press. This generally admirable work is entitled ‘The History of the County Palatinate and City of Chester … incorporated with a republication of King's Vale Royal and Leycester's Cheshire Antiquities,’ 3 vols. fol. London, 1819. He left notes and papers for a revised edition of the ‘History,’ but these are still in possession of a member of the family, who has not permitted any public use to be made of them. A second edition, revised and enlarged by Thomas Helsby, wholly independently of Ormerod's family, was published in parts during 1875–82, and forms three volumes. In January 1890 the historian's fourth son, Henry M. Ormerod of Broughton Park, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, presented to the Bodleian Library the author's copy of the ‘History of Cheshire’ (3 vols. 1819), bound in ten folio volumes, with numerous extra illustrations, many original drawings, water-colours by De Wint, and some additions to the text.

Ormerod made six contributions to ‘Archæologia,’ and wrote also:

  1. ‘The Stanley Legend,’ in Nichols's ‘Collectanea,’ vol. vii. 1839.
  2. ‘A Memoir of the Connection of Arderne, or Arden, of Cheshire with the Ardens of Warwickshire,’ in Nichols's ‘Topographer,’ 1843.
  3. ‘A Memoir on the Lancashire House of Les Noreis, or Norres, and its Speke Branch in particular,’ in the ‘Proceedings’ of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1850.
  4. ‘Miscellanea Palatina: consisting of Genealogical Essays illustrative of Cheshire and Lancashire Families, and of a Memoir on the Cheshire Domesday Roll,’ with additions and index, 8vo, London 1851 [—56]; privately printed.
  5. ‘Parentalia: Genealogical Memoirs’ (additions and index), 4 pts. 8vo, London; Liverpool, 1851, 50–56; privately printed.
  6. ‘Calendars of the Names of Families which entered … pedigrees in the successive Heraldic Visitations of Lancashire,’ in the Chetham Society's ‘Remains,’ vol. i. 1851.
  7. ‘A Memoir on British and Roman Remains, illustrative of communications with Venta Silurum, Antient Passages of the Bristol Channel and Antonine's Iter XIV,’ communicated to the Bristol Meeting of the Archæological Institute July 1851, 4to, London, 1852; private reimpression, with many additional engravings.
  8. ‘Remarks on a Line of Earth-works in Tidenham, known as Offa's Dyke,’ 4to, London, 1859; privately printed.
  9. ‘Observations on Recent Discoveries of Roman Remains in Sedbury,’ 8vo, Gloucester [1860]; privately printed.
  10. ‘Observations on Discoveries of Roman Remains and the Site of a Roman Military Position in Sedbury, and on the Identity of the Chapelry of St. Briavel's with the Ledenei of Domesday,’ communicated to the annual meeting of the Archæological Institute in 1860, 4to, London, 1860; private reimpression.
  11. ‘Strigulensia: Archæological Memoirs relating to the District adjacent to the Confluence of the Severn and the Wye,’ 8vo, London, 1861.

He also edited ‘Tracts relating to Military Proceedings in Lancashire during the Great Civil War’ (Chetham Society's Remains, vol. ii. 1844), and contributed to ‘Vetusta Monumenta’ (vol. v. 1828) some observations on the ‘Swords of the Earldom of Chester.’

A portrait of Ormerod, engraved after John Jackson, R.A., by H. Meyer, is prefixed to both editions of his ‘History of Cheshire;’ there is also another engraving of the same portrait by ‘W. D.’

[Helsby's Preface to second edition of Ormerod's Hist. of Cheshire; Proc. of Soc. Antiq. 2nd ser. vi. 196; Athenæum, 18 Oct. 1873, p. 498; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, vol. ii.; private information.]

G. G.