The Volunteer on a Man of War


The following tale is found in Milton Ormerod's The Ormerods (pp.141-142).

"The oldest public library in the country is the one founded in Manchester in the 1650's by Humphrey Chetham. In it repose 36 volumes of the Raines MS. These were the miscellaneous gleanings of a Canon Raines in the middle of the nineteenth century mainly from the musty bundles of forgotten lawsuits in solicitors' offices. One of these recounts the following tale:-

About 1745 a young man named John Ormerod left his native Rossendale in East Lancashire and made his way to Bristol where he enlisted as a volunteer on a man of war. The vessel took a prize in what was later known as 'the war of Jenkins's ear' since it was provoked by the Spaniards having captured the ship of a Captain Jenkins and cut off his ear - which he afterwards exhibited to parliament in a bottle. The prize was brought into Bristol. There were evidently some sharks on the quay who induced our hero to part with his future share of the prize for 173-5-00. When the prize was eventually sold he found that he would have been entitled to 420! So he repudiated the bill of sale claiming that he was under 21 at the time he made it - although he had made an oath that he was 24, and sued the purchasers of his share for 500.
The attorney for these characters - J. Addersley et al. - turned up in Newchurch-in-Rossendale where they thought John Ormerod had been baptised to ascertain his true age and found their way to an inn in the adjacent hamlet of Boothfold.
Here they met one John Piccop, who fulfilled the duty of Parish Clerk. From him they extracted the following information:-
John Ormerod was the son of George Ormerod of Meadowhead and Sarah his wife and was born in the parish (a misnomer - it was only a chapelry) of Newchurch in 1722. His name did not appear in the register because, when his father brought him to Newchurch he could not find the curate, Mr Lee, at the church but found him at the alehouse of the said J. Piccop where George treated his friends and had his son, John, baptised in the alehouse. George and Sarah were married on the 19th of April 1720. They had a daughter, Ann, baptised 21st April 1721 (not in the parish register) and a son Lawrence baptised on 25 February 1723, who was still living and a younger brother of the said John.

Presumably, armed with this tale the attorney went back to Bristol and John Ormerod lost his case. Actually the John Piccop who imparted this information in 1745 was both Parish Clerk and schoolmaster, but he was not the John Piccop who was clerk and innkeeper in 1722 although probably a relation since the former John Piccop had died in 1732 when the parish register revealed his nickname was "Swiggers".

John Ormerod of Cloughfold's will was proved in York in 1782.

This revealed that by the end of his life John had become very prosperous, and his legacies totalled 1450."