MARRYAT, Joseph II (1790-1876), of Wimbledon House, Surr. and 6 Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

1826 - 1834

Family and Education

b. 7 Oct. 1790, at Grenada,1 1st s. of John Marryat I* and Charlotte, da. of Frederick von Geyer of Boston, Mass. m. 19 Oct. 1819, Mary, da. of James Lindsay of Queen Street, Mdx., s.p.2 suc. fa. 1824. d. 24 Sept. 1876.

Offices Held

Agent, Grenada 1831-51.

Biography

It is not clear whether Marryat attended Mr. Freeman’s school at Ponder’s End, Middlesex with his next brother Frederick, the future author of Peter Simple and Mr Midshipman Easy. On coming of age he became his father’s partner in his London West India mercantile business in Laurence Pountney Lane, taking a one-third share of the profits.3 On his father’s sudden death in January 1824 he became its head, as well as a member of the committee of Lloyd’s.4 The following year he joined, in his father’s room, the bank of Kay, Price, Marryat and Coleman at 1 Mansion House Street. He did not make an immediate bid for his father’s seat at Sandwich, but in September 1825 announced his intention of standing at the next general election.5 When he came forward in 1826 he promised to promote the new harbour scheme and to follow ‘the independent line of conduct pursued by my ... father in considering measures themselves, without reference to the parties by whom they are proposed’. He was returned unopposed with the admiralty candidate.6

Marryat voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. He voted for the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May, and supported a London merchants’ petition for reduction of the duties on marine insurance, 21 June 1827.7 He voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May, and was in the Wellington ministry’s majority against inquiry into chancery delays, 24 Apr. 1828. He welcomed the New South Wales bill in the hope that the new council would ‘restrain those acts of arbitrary power which have too generally characterized the governors of our distant colonies’, 18 Apr. Taking up his father’s campaign against Sir Ralph Woodford, governor of Trinidad, he went on to demand compensation for proprietors penalized by Woodford’s harsh land and taxation policies, which had been exposed by the 1823 commission of inquiry, and to press government to adopt a ‘new and improved system of colonial administration’. (Woodford died at sea on his way home a month later.) On 6 May Marryat secured a return of information on Trinidad. He was listed in both the majority and minority in the division on the silk duties, 14 July 1828.8 His only known vote in the 1829 session was for Catholic emancipation, 6 Mar.; and he thanked ministers for the Spanish claims bill, 10 Apr. He was a member of the streamlined West India acting committee formed in May 1829.9

He voted against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., and Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform scheme, 18 Feb., but for the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He voted against government on the treasurership of the navy, 12 Mar., the Bathurst-Dundas pensions, 26 Mar., the ordnance estimates, 29 Mar., and privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May. He divided for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr. He supported abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 13, 24 May, 7 June, because bankers were reluctant to prosecute: ‘if we affix a mitigated penalty, certain of infliction ... we secure an effectual protection to the public’. He voted for parliamentary reform, 28 May. He argued that it was ‘not possible to grant effectual relief’ to distress in the shipping industry ‘by legislative measures’, 2 Apr., and defended colonial preference in the spirit duties,7 Apr. On the presentation of a petition for the introduction of representative government to the Cape, 24 May, he observed that a ‘vicious system’ of gubernatorial tyranny existed in all the crown colonies. At the same time, he praised the colonial secretary Murray for his evident willingness to resume the work of reform in Trinidad which had been abandoned on Huskisson’s resignation two years earlier. He attended the meeting of West India Members which resolved to support the ministerial proposals on the rum duties but to press for a substantial reduction in the duties on colonial sugar, 2 June. Seconding Lord Chandos’s motion to this effect, 14 June, he declared that ‘the case of the West India planter is one not of mere distress but of absolute annihilation’; he was a teller for the minority of 23. He spoke in the same terms in support of Chandos’s unsuccessful bid to double the reduction conceded by government, 30 June 1830, when he complained of their ‘vacillating conduct’ on West Indian relief.

At the general election of 1830 Marryat came forward again for Sandwich, stressing his ‘independent’ conduct and support for ‘measures ... for alleviating the burthens of the people’.10 After his unopposed return the government head-counters listed him as one of the ‘doubtful doubtfuls’, with the additional comment that he was ‘surely a friend’. After dividing for a reduction in the duty on wheat imported to the West Indies, 12 Nov., he voted in the ministerial minority in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. That month the resident Trinidad planters and merchants, anticipating the British response to their pressure for constitutional change, appointed Marryat their honorary (and unpaid) agent. He subsequently corresponded with the Grey ministry in their modest reform proposals for the colony.11 On 30 Dec. 1830 he supported the petition of the West India planters and merchants against a precipitate abolition of slavery and accused the abolitionists of reneging on the agreement over the policy of amelioration and of circulating the ‘grossest calumnies’ against the proprietors. He urged the new ministers to avoid their predecessors’ ‘apathy and indecision’ and called for a commission of inquiry. He voted for the second reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar. 1831, but three days later said that unless its proposed disfranchisement of most freemen, which would affect a majority of his constituents, was modified, he would be ‘compelled to vote against it’. He nevertheless voted with government against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he stood for Sandwich as ‘a friend to reform’ in principle, though he reiterated his determination to oppose the wholesale disfranchisement of freemen. ‘No effectual retrenchment of expenditure or diminution of labour’, he declared, ‘can be expected from the House of Commons as at present constituted.’ He comfortably topped the poll after a three-day contest.12

Marryat voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and steadily for most of its details in committee, although he was in the minority for the preservation of freemen’s rights, 30 Aug. 1831. On 9 Aug. he welcomed the proposal to unite Sandwich with Deal as a two Member constituency and denied Tory allegations that it would thus become a snug admiralty borough. He voted for the third reading, 19, and passage of the bill, 21 Sept., but was not in the majority for the motion of confidence in the ministry, 10 Oct. He voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, for schedule A, 23 Jan., and to go into committee, 20 Feb., but against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb. 1832. He opposed a Tory bid to add Ramsgate to the Sandwich constituency, 14 Mar. He voted for the third reading of the bill, 22 Mar., and for the address asking the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May. He divided with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. He presented a Sandwich petition against the general register bill, 6 Apr., and voted to make coroners’ inquests public, 20 June 1832.

Marryat, who was added to the select committee on the use of molasses in brewing, 8 July, voted in the minority for inquiry into the effects of the Sugar Refinery Act on the West Indian colonies, 12 Sept. 1831. Two months later he was appointed the official agent for Grenada; and in giving evidence to the select committee of inquiry into the commercial state of the West Indies, 13 Feb. 1832, he described himself as a proprietor in Grenada, St. Lucia and Trinidad.13 He obtained a return of papers on the administration and finances of Trinidad, 9 Feb., and on the 29th thanked ministers for the grant to alleviate the problems caused by hurricane damage in Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, trusting that it would be ‘followed up by a plan of general relief’. He came under pressure from Trinidad slave proprietors to recruit parliamentary support for their resistance to the order in council of November 1831 concerning the amelioration of slavery, compliance with which was to be made a condition for the receipt of financial aid.14 In the House, 9 Mar. 1832, he defended the disaffected merchants and planters of St. Lucia and denied Lord Howick’s allegation that he had expressed approval of the order: on the contrary, he had ‘strongly protested’ against it in his communications with government. Yet he did not sign the formal West India merchants’ protest against it and remained silent at the public meeting of 5 Apr.15 He was named to the select committee on slavery, 30 May, when he presented a Grenada petition for a reduction in the sugar duties and caution on abolition. He also presented petitions from St. Lucia and Trinidad for the introduction of representative government and repeal of the order; but he conceded that the government had done much to assist the crown colonies and distanced himself from the call for repeal, preferring modification. He denied the assertion of Fowell Buxton (who in the Commons, 15 Apr. 1831, had quoted Marryat’s father as having admitted that slaves in Trinidad died off ‘like rotten sheep’)16 that the West Indian slave population was rapidly diminishing. On the government proposal to offer £58,000 in relief to the crown colonies, 3 Aug. 1832, Marryat, trying to obtain the best possible terms for Trinidad, read a letter from his planter brother Charles to the effect that the order was now working well there. Accused by the Tory Burge and the radical Hume of betraying the West India interest, he replied that while he had initially remonstrated with ministers against details of the order, he had ‘always advocated measures of amelioration’ and had not felt justified in recommending the colonists to indulge in ‘a contumacious resistance’ to the order. The next day, seeking to explain his conduct to the delegate from Trinidad, he wrote that he had been ‘unprepared for this opposition to the grant on the part of the West India Members’, whose ‘objections appear to me to be frivolous and unfounded and very much dictated by the spirit of party feeling against the government’. There was much anger in Trinidad, where it was said that his ‘treachery’ had been purchased with the promise of a baronetcy; and he was stripped of his honorary agency at a public meeting of proprietors.17

Marryat successfully contested Sandwich at the 1834 general election but retired from Parliament at the next dissolution. In 1835 the bank, now styled Price, Marryat and Company, moved to 3 King William Street, where it remained until it stopped payment in 1866. The West Indian firm of Marryat and Sons continued in Laurence Pountney Lane until after his death, but the extent of his later personal involvement in it is not clear. In the mid-1840s he had a residence at Little Heath Lodge, Barnet, Hertfordshire (his mother occupied Wimbledon House until her death in 1854); and he appears to have given up his London house in Richmond Terrace in the early 1850s. He made a name for himself as a pundit on pottery and porcelain with the publication of Collections towards a History (1850). His History of Pottery and Porcelain, Mediaeval and Modern went through three editions. He spent some of his later years at Maes-y-dderwen, Swansea Vale, Breconshire; but it was in London, at 61 Warwick Street, Pimlico, that he died childless in September 1876. By his brief will, dated 17 July 1866, he left all his property to his wife, his sole executrix.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher

Notes

  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 4), iii. 341, citing the inscription on his coffin; but ibid. 340 gives 1789.
  • 2. The Times, 20 Oct. 1819.
  • 3. F. Marryat, Life and Letters of Capt. Marryat, i. 12-13.
  • 4. PROB 11/1681/99; C. Wright and C. E. Fayle, Hist. Lloyd’s, 293.
  • 5. Kent Herald, 22 Sept. 1825.
  • 6. Kentish Chron. 19 May, 9, 13 June 1826.
  • 7. The Times, 22 June 1827.
  • 8. Ibid. 15 July 1828.
  • 9. Inst. of Commonwealth Stud. W.I. cttee. archives M915/4/2/22; 5/2/1.
  • 10. Kentish Gazette, 2, 16, 27, 30 July, 3 Aug. 1830.
  • 11. L.M. Frazer, Hist. Trinidad, ii. 243-4; F. Carmichael, Hist. Trinidad, 165,168- 9.
  • 12. Kent Herald, 21, 28 Apr., 5 May; Hatfield House mss 2M/Gen., S.G. Price to Salisbury, 23 Apr. 1831.