Scope and Content

This collection was acquired as a gift in December 2003 and was assigned accession number 5078. It was catalogued in December 2006 by Hannah Jones.

Family History

The Ormond family was prominent in Wantage for nearly 300 years. The founder of the family, John Ormond (referred to in this catalogue as John Ormond senior) was a surgeon and apothecary who settled in Wantage in the 1780s and continued to live and work there for nearly fifty years.

John Ormond (senior) was the second of four children born to John and Mary (nee Brooke) Ormond of Arnold's Down, Usmaston, Pembrokeshire. John and his siblings were orphaned in or around 1769, his father dying first and his mother about a year later. John, his elder sister Diana, and two younger brothers, David and Richard, went to live with their maternal uncle in Wiltshire and John was then placed under the guardianship of his cousin Richard Brooke of Cowbridge, Wiltshire. It was Richard Brooke who arranged John's first apprenticeship to a surgeon apothecary. John's apprenticeship certificates to Dr Dewell of Malmesbury and, later, Dr Hutchley of London form part of this collection. The precise date of John's settlement in Wantage is unclear, but he finished his apprenticeship in 1783 and his practice had been established in Wantage by 1784.

Diana Ormond went on to be a teacher at a Moravian Convent in East Tytherton, Wilts. David trained as a clergyman and died in 1802. A few of his papers survive in this collection (F11/4). Richard Ormond trained as a solicitor and went back to Pembrokeshire, setting up in business in Haverfordwest, again some of his papers survive in this collection (F11/5). He left Haverfordwest in 1800 and went to sea as a midshipman, dying in 1803. Richard's reason for leaving Pembrokeshire would appear to be serious debt. A number of bills issued by various tradesmen in Haverfordwest are included in the collection (F11/5/F). A number of letters from Diana to Richard also survive (F11/5/C), several of which urge Richard to leave Haverfordwest and seek an alternative career. In several, Diana offers financial help to equip Richard for such a career change, and one letter in particular (F11/5/C/9) describe's Richard's present situation as 'destitute of property, credit, or even respect'. Only Diana's letters survive, there are none from Richard back to her, so we do not know the precise nature of Richard's financial difficulties, or even whether he fully admitted them to his sister.

John's eldest son, John Ormond junior, also trained as a surgeon and his letters home, describing his training, form part of the collection (F11/6). These letters provide a fascinating insight into the life of a young trainee doctor in London, and also provide interesting information on medical developments in the early 19th century, including references to the development of the smallpox vaccine, a complaint from John junior to his father about the price of obtaining cadavers for dissection, and a letter reporting his attempts to resucitate victims of a crowd surge outside Newgate Gaol after a crowd estimated at 40,000 turned up to see an execution. John junior's apprenticeship certificate, apprenticing him to John senior, also survives (F11/6/PL/1).

Letters from one of John senior's other sons, Francis Kirby Ormond, also survive in the collection (F11/7). Francis went to sea as a volunteer in 1804 and sailed in the Channel and off the Spanish coast. A letter from Francis dated November 1805, two weeks after the Battle of Trafalgar, reports that he understands Lord Nelson was injured during the battle 'but I am happy to hear the news is annulled and that he is now living'!

The Ormond Family link with Wantage remained through John senior's son William, who trained as a solicitor and established his practice in the premises of his father's old apothecary shop in the Market Place, Wantage. Although none of William's papers survive within this collection, other surviving records such as Ormond and Fullalove Office Letter Books, 1825-1840, and Sheriff's Letter Books, 1825-1829, (University of Reading Library. MS 1173) do record some of the work he conducted.

The collection also includes a smaller number of papers from other members of the family, inlucing Catherine Ormond, wife of John senior; Edward Ormond, son of William Ormond; Edward Brooks Ormond and Harold Vere Selby Ormond, respectively son and nephew of Edward Ormond. Also included in the collection are a number of letters and notes regarding the Ormond family papers and their custody prior to deposit at Oxfordshire Record Office.


The collection is arranged chronologically by family member, starting with John Ormond senior. A basic family tree is included.

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