The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) was a series of wars between France and its allies, led by against other European countries, usually led by the United Kingdom, resulting from the French Revolution, including: the Third Coalition (1805); the Fourth (1806–07); the Fifth (1809); the Sixth (1813); and the Seventh (1815).

The conflicts, combined with the impact of the industrial revolution, and a series of bad harvests, eventually put a severe financial strain on England and created significant hardship for the population. This was the economic backdrop in which Joseph Ormandy was sent to debtor’s prison in November, 1813.

“Debtors’ prisons nationally were filling up at this time due to a number of factors.

1812 saw a series of very serious riots and machine-breaking in the county – a reaction to the growing hardship with a number of those involved being hanged at Lancaster Castle. Things got even worse a few years later (particularly for Lancashire) as the end of the Napoleonic Wars saw a decline in the need for army uniforms which hit the textile industry very hard. It became a perfect storm – factories drove down wages, demand for the product slumped, and food prices were very high. By 1819 many families in Lancashire were living on the verge of starvation, and these factors were a direct cause of the meeting that turned into the Peterloo Massacre.”


In response to the gaols swelling with people unable to pay their debts parliament passed the Insolvent Debtors Act in November 1813.