Erasmus Austin OMMANNEY (1850–1938)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 4a, Grave C55
FOR THE SOUL OF
COMMANDER ROYAL NAVY
VICAR OF ST. MICHAEL’S SOUTHSEA
BORN JUNE 4. 1850.
DIED NOV. 9, 1938
ONLY SON OF
ADMIRAL SIR ERASMUS
OMMANNEY K.C.B., F.R.S.
AND BELOVED HUSBAND OF
THY RIGHTS O LORD ARE
GLORIFIED WITH POWER.
Erasmus Austin Ommanney was born at Southsea on 4 June 1850, the only son of Admiral Sir Erasmus Ommanney and his first wife Emily Mary Smith, who were married on 27 February 1844. His father was an Arctic explorer and has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and Erasmus junior was given the middle name Austin in honour of Captain Horatio Austin, the commander of the Franklin Relief Expedition of 1850 in which his father commanded the Assistance.
At the time of the 1851 census Erasmus’s father was on another Arctic expedition; and Erasmus (nine months) was with his mother Emily (33), who was staying with her parents-in-law in Bath.
Erasmus’s mother Emily Mary Ommanney died in Portsea in 1857 when he was only seven, and the 1861 census shows him as a schoolboy of ten living at 1 Upper Church Street, Bath with his father, who was described as a Captain in the Royal Navy on half-pay,
Erasmus entered the navy as a cadet in 1863 when he was only thirteen, becoming Sub-Lieutenant in June 1869. His journals were sold at Bonhams in 1910, and this extract is taken from their webpage about them. Sub-Lieutenant Ommanney (19) was about to join a new ship in November 1869:
Saturday. Woke about 4 a.m. with the wind & rain beating against the window & felt very wretched “a flood of thoughts came o’er me which filled my eyes with tears”. Suddenly a thought strikes me: resort to prayer ask God for help which I did; I believe it really was the first heartfelt prayer I had ever offered … went down to Mutton Cove to go off & met who I thought was a Lieut of the ship (who was Fitzgerald) also wanting to get off; so away we went in a wretched cockleshell of a boat which I thought would capsize every minute but it took us alongside all safely. I always had a dread of joining a new ship but I think I never was more disgusted than when I went into the “Revenge” GR, full of fellows & gear laying all over the place. Having found my chest & secured a servant solaced myself by sitting & writing letters for the rest of the afternoon.
He became a Lieutenant in December 1872 and retired with the rank of Commander in 1879 in order to train for the priesthood. He was matriculated as a non-collegiate student at the University of Oxford at the age of 28 on 31 May 1879, but by the time of the 1881 census he described himself as an undergraduate at Merton College. He was then staying at Bloxham with his uncle, Octavius Ommanney.
He obtained his B.A. in 1882, and took holy orders in 1883. In January 1885 was appointed Honorary Chaplain to the Royal Navy Auxiliary Volunteers, Bristol Brigade, and the following year he was appointed Curate of Clewer, Windsor. From 1892 to 1911 he was the Vicar of St Michael’s, Southsea.
Around the mid-1890s Erasmus Austin Ommanney married his Irish-born wife, Mrs Anne Helen Gordon, née Stirling-Crawfurd-Stuart, who had been widowed in 1883. They had one son:
- Alfred Erasmus Stuart Ommanney (born in Portsmouth on 5 March 1897).
The 1901 census shows Erasmus (51) and Anne (46) at St Michael’s Vicarage, Portsmouth with Alfred (4) and six servants (a cook, nurse, parlourmaid, kitchenmaid, and two housemaids).
Erasmus’s first wife Anne Helen Ommanney died on 19 November 1924.
In the fourth quarter of 1926 in the Windsor district, Erasmus Austin Ommanney, aged 76, married his second wife Marjorie E. Merrett, and they lived at 7 St Margaret’s Road, Oxford.
He died in 1938:
† Erasmus Austin Ommanney died at 7 St Margaret’s Road on 9 November 1938 at the age of 88 and was buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 15 November (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen rather than St Giles’s Church, probably because it was a family plot).
The following report of the funeral appeared in The Times on 16 November 1938:
THE REV. E. A. OMMANNEY
The funeral of the Rev. E. Austin Ommanney took place at St. Margaret’s Church, Oxford, yesterday. The service was conducted by the Rev. E. W. Pullan. The family mourners and others present included:—
Mrs. Ommanney (the widow), Commander L. F. Ommanney, Mr. P. G. N. Ommanney, Mr. Cecil Barnes, Miss Susan Hollis, Mr. Brinsley Richards, Mrs. Joseph Williamson (also representing Mrs Hollist Barnes), the Rev. Joseph Williamson.
Captain W. B. Huddleston, Dr. and Mrs B. H. B Attlee, Dr. and Mrs. Scully, Canon and Mrs. Swainson, the Rev. G. Nuttall Smith, the Rev. F. M. Higgins, the Rev. F. James, the Rev. A. E. Maund, Miss Farebrother, Mrs. Mackarness, and Mrs. Clark.
The burial took place at St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Oxford.
Ommanney’s widow Marjorie was still living at 7 St Margaret’s Road in 1945.
See also the adjoining grave of his uncle, George Druce Wynne Ommanney (1819–1902)