MARRYAT, Joseph I (1757-1824), of Wimbledon House, Surr. and 6 Great George Street, Mdx.

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



26 Feb. 1808 - 1812
1812 - 12 Jan. 1824

Family and Education

b. 8 Oct. 1757, 1st s. of Thomas Marryat (d. 1792), Presbyterian minister, of Southwold, Suff. (afterwards physician of Bristol) and Sarah, da. of John Davy of Southwold. m. 17 Dec. 1788 at Boston, Mass., Charlotte, da. of Frederick von Geyer of Boston, 9s. (3 d.v.p.) 6da. (3 d.v.p.). d. 12 Jan. 1824.

Offices Held

Agent, Trinidad 1805-15, Grenada 1815-d.; chairman of Lloyd’s 1811-d.


Marryat, a self-made man, had prospered as a West India merchant and ship owner, with London premises at 2 Laurence Pountney Lane and plantations in Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad. He was a forceful and innovative chairman of Lloyd’s, and in 1819 became a partner in (and soon afterwards head of) the London banking house of Marryat, Kay, Price and Coleman at 1 Mansion House Street. His parliamentary conduct had always been markedly independent, and neither government nor opposition could confidently claim him as their own.1 Following his selective opposition to details of the repressive legislation of December 1819 his application for a Cinque Ports place for a constituent was ignored; and Arbuthnot, the patronage secretary, deemed him to be ‘steadily opposed to government’.2 At the 1820 general election he was again returned unopposed for Sandwich on the independent interest.3 In 1821 and 1822 he exerted himself to ensure that a proposal to remove the Sandwich customs establishment to Ramsgate was not implemented and to forestall abolition of the annual payment of £300 from the trustees of Ramsgate harbour on account of silt damage to Sandwich haven.4

Marryat voted against government on the droits of the crown because of its confiscations in Trinidad and other crown colonies, 5 May, the civil list, 8 May, and the additional Scottish baron of exchequer, 15 May 1820. On the presentation of a London merchants’ petition calling for the removal of purely protective import duties, 8 May, he put the case for colonial preference. On 5 June he presented a London shipbuilders’ petition against remission of the duties on Baltic timber, which he said would ruin the Canadian trade. He then expanded on this theme in support of a similar London ship owners’ petition, delivering a lengthy speech (subsequently published by the Society of Shipowners) in defence of ‘those wise and salutary restrictions upon foreigners’ which safeguarded colonial interests. He presented and endorsed a London merchants’ petition on the timber duties, 20 June. He approved neither of Wilberforce’s compromise resolutions, ‘a sort of pious fraud’, on the Queen Caroline affair, nor of the Whig opposition’s amendment for the restoration of her name to the liturgy; and so left the House before the division, 22 June. On the 26th, believing that ‘justice could not be done between the parties till the truth was ascertained’, but objecting to inquiry by secret committee, he supported the government motion for a further short postponement. He asserted that ‘revolutions were ... generally preceded by infatuated councils, but ... also ... by inflammatory speeches, which the ministers loudly cheered’.5 He protested against the sale of spirits bill, 6, 10 July 1820.6

He voted for the restoration of the queen’s name to the liturgy, 23, 26 Jan., but divided with government against the opposition censure motion, 6 Feb. 1821: as he explained when supporting the last motion on the liturgy, 13 Feb., this concession would quell public excitement and ‘restore the queen to her place without driving ministers from theirs’. He did not vote in the division on Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He supported the navy estimates, 2 Feb., and voted with government on the revenue, 6 Mar., and against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., and the disfranchisement of ordnance officials, 12 Apr. Continuing his campaign against reduction of the foreign timber duties, he presented a New Brunswick petition, 9 Feb., and appealed for support to the British landowner by forecasting repeal of the corn laws as the inevitable corollary of free trade in timber:

Let him ... adhere to that system to which he owes his present opulence ... and let him beware of encouraging those plausible but delusive theories, which would involve him, as well as the other classes of the community, in one common ruin, only leaving him the consolation of being the last devoured.

He presented more petitions on the same issue, 16, 26 Feb., 14, 16, 19, 21 Mar.7 On the introduction of the government’s proposals to open the trade, 29 Mar., he denounced this sacrifice of the colonial and shipping interests at the behest of ‘the disciples of the new school of political economy’. His attempt to lessen the reduction was defeated by 71-17, 5 Apr., when he defied ‘these philosophers’ to ‘take off two legs from a three-legged stool, and make it stand on the remaining leg more firmly than it did on all three’. Marryat, a member of the West India Committee’s subcommittee on the renewal of the West India Dock Company’s charter, presented a London merchants’ petition against it, 27 Feb., when he criticized the ‘impolicy’ and ‘injustice’ of such monopolies.8 He moved a successful wrecking amendment against Curwen’s bill to establish an Antimephitic Company, 20 Mar., but supported Taylor’s measure to curb emissions from steam engine furnaces, 7 May, as ‘no man had a right to annoy or poison his neighbours’. He presented a Dorset bankers’ petition for repeal of the usury laws, 15 May, called for judicial reform in the colonies, 28 May, supported Hume’s motion for papers on the government of the Ionian Islands, 30 May, and objected to Maxwell’s slave removal bill, 31 May.9 He considered the exemption of Bank of England notes from the provisions of the forgery punishment mitigation bill to be ‘subversive of all fairness and justice’, 4 June. On Lord Nugent’s motion for inquiry by select committee into the administration of justice in Tobago, 6 June, he denied that West Indian justice was inherently partial and stated his preference for a commission. He voted with government for the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June, but against them on Hume’s call for economy and retrenchment, 27 June. When they unveiled their plans to relax the navigation laws, 25 June, he ‘sounded the alarm’, renewed his attack on the exponents of ‘the new, but delusive and dangerous doctrines of free trade’, described the existing laws, which applied ‘the greatest possible extent of human wisdom to the widest possible range of human action’, as ‘the sheet anchor of our greatness’ and predicted ‘national bankruptcy and a revolution’ if they were infringed.10 On 26 June 1821 he denied that slaves were better treated in the East than the West Indies and argued that Britain and other countries anxious to eradicate the slave trade should impose commercial sanctions on Portugal.

As chairman of the Committee of Landholders of Trinidad, Marryat had continued his vendetta against the governor, Sir Ralph Woodford, who had forced his resignation of the agency over financial irregularities in 1815. Woodford, in Britain on leave in 1821, successfully refuted Marryat’s allegations that he had confiscated lands already granted on lease. Marryat also failed to convince ministers that Woodford had run up excessive expenses in the prosecution of some runaway slaves. On the eve of the 1822 session he informed them of his intention of submitting fresh evidence to substantiate his case against Woodford, which he had been unable to prove in 1819, over the massacre of Colombian refugees refused sanctuary in Trinidad. On the pretext of trying to safeguard British commercial relations with the newly independent South American states, he urged government to terminate Woodford’s governorship, but he was again frustrated.11

He voted for Hume’s amendment to the address, 5 Feb. 1822, because distress was widespread and the tax reductions called for would not violate the sinking fund. He divided with government against more extensive retrenchment, 11, 21 Feb., but voted for admiralty reductions, 1 Mar., ‘to convince the public that it was the disposition of the House to make a reasonable abatement of the public burthens’, and for abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., 2 May. He was in the opposition minority on Sir Robert Wilson’s* dismissal from the army, 13 Feb. He applauded the ministerial plan to convert the five per cents, 8 Mar.,12 but was unimpressed by their superannuation bill, 11 Mar.: he ‘knew no right they had to force men to adopt a system of economy’, for ‘individual morals were not the object of legislative interference’. On 13 Mar. he presented and supported a petition from the assembly of Canada complaining of distress caused by tariff reforms, and one from the assembly of Grenada attributing their economic problems to the increased penetration of the British market by sugar from the East Indies and foreign colonies where the slave trade still flourished. In this instance, he was prepared to accept a modification of the navigation laws to encourage colonial trade with America; and he welcomed the colonial trade bill as a substantial boon, 1 Apr., and defended it on its second reading, 17 May. He declined to oppose the grant for Barbados fortifications, but made clear his hostility to the misapplied four and a half per cent fund, 27 Mar. He voted for parliamentary reform, 25 Apr. He presented petitions against renewal of the West India Dock Company’s charter, 2 May, 3 June, and the navigation bill, 10 May, though on the 17th he expressed his approval of the latter.13 He voted for reductions in diplomatic expenditure, 15, 16 May. He criticized the alehouses licensing bill as a threat to brewers, 24 May, opposed Bankes’s attempt to make the duty on corn payable at the time of importation, 3 June, and voted against the Irish constables bill, 7 June. He was a member of the delegation appointed by the West India Committee to lobby Lord Liverpool for immediate relief measures, 20 June;14 and in the House, 27 June, he demanded enhanced protection of British colonial planters against foreign ones who benefited from the slave trade. On the subject of piracy, a universal issue between ‘the commerce of the world’ and ‘the enemies of the human race’, he pressed, as he had in his capacity as chairman of Lloyd’s, for the British navy to be allowed to protect neutral ships, 23, 30 July. He opposed the Canada bill, 23 July.15 In a renewed attack on Woodford’s ‘arbitrary system of government’, 25 July, he supported Hume’s amendment to extend to Trinidad the commission of inquiry into the Cape, Mauritius, Ceylon and the Leeward Islands. He detailed the heavy tax burden on the planters, denounced the crown’s land policy and advocated the introduction of British laws and institutions. When Hume withdrew his amendment on a government promise to produce papers to elucidate the subject, 26 July, Marryat reluctantly acquiesced.16 In another implied censure of Woodford, 5 Aug. 1822, he secured a return of information on emigrants from the Spanish Main imprisoned in Trinidad.17 Three weeks later the minister Croker named him as one of the Members ‘inclined to’ Canning who would probably follow him into opposition if he opted for that course.18

Early in 1823 Marryat published extensive Observations on the renewal of the West India Dock Company’s charter and a Reply to the Arguments ... recommending an Equalization of the Duties on East and West Indian Sugar, of which 1,000 copies were ordered for propaganda purposes by the West India Committee.19 In the House, 3 Mar., he denied that government was pledged to equalize the duties.20 Ministers resisted his motion for documents to prove that the admiralty had misled Lloyd’s over precautions taken to protect shipping the previous autumn, 4 Mar., but he dropped it in response to Canning’s appeal for mutual forbearance. He condemned the coal duties, 10 Mar., but supported the government’s warehousing bill, 21 Mar., and merchant vessels apprenticeship bill, 24 Mar., 18 Apr.: ‘the political economists ... were ready to grind the navy and shipping interests to powder, rather than abandon their favourite theories’.21 He opposed the naval and military pensions bill, 14 Apr.,22 but sided with ministers against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., arguing that while it was undoubtedly a restraint on liberty, its abandonment might encourage a breach of British neutrality in the Franco-Spanish war. He again voted for parliamentary reform, 24 Apr., and for reform of the Scottish representative system, 2 June. He had doubts about putative changes in the law merchant to protect brokers from the consequences of their own folly, 15 May, but acquiesced in the motion for a select committee, to which he was named.23 Later that day he supported the government’s temporizing amendment to Buxton’s motion for the immediate abolition of slavery, reading from colonial governors’ reports to support his contention that there had been great improvements in the treatment and conditions of slaves. He was a member of the West India subcommittee on amelioration and of the literary committee set up in June 1823 to publicize their case on this and other issues. After presenting petitions on the subject, 22 May, he spoke against Whitmore’s motion for equalization of the sugar duties and answered Ricardo’s arguments.24 He initially accepted, with reservations on points of detail, the reciprocity bill, 6 June, as it was ‘the duty of this country to act upon liberal principles’, but he denounced it on its third reading, 4 July, as an infraction of the navigation laws, though he was not listed in the hostile minority of 15. He opposed the increase in barilla duty, 13 June, because the ‘variable policy ... out of which this proposition arose ... put all property to hazard, and sported with the capital of the country’. Later that day he spoke and voted against the beer duties bill. He presented a Trinidad petition for the introduction of a British form of government, 11 June; and in answer to his question, 19 June, ministers confirmed that the West Indian commissioners would after all extend their inquiry to Trinidad.25 He doubted the wisdom of including provision for jury trial in the New South Wales bill, 2 July, and supported the appeal of its opponents to be heard by counsel against the measure, which seemed to him to give the governor too much power: ‘the question for the House to determine was, whether they would see with their own eyes or with the eyes of the executive government’. He supported a petition for recognition of the independence of Colombia, 8 July 1823.26

Marryat attended meetings of the West India Committee, 21 Nov., 30 Dec. 1823.27 On the morning of Monday, 12 Jan. 1824 he travelled as usual to London from his Wimbledon residence. He left his carriage at Southwark and ‘walked heartily towards the City’. Soon after reaching his office at the bank, ‘whilst in the act of writing a frank ... he fell on the floor and instantly expired, without speaking a word’.28 By his will, dated 18 Aug. 1818, he provided his wife with £10,000 and a life annuity of £4,500 and his three surviving daughters with £20,000 each. He directed that his real estate, including plantations in Grenada and Jamaica, should be sold as necessary to fund those bequests. In a codicil of 24 July 1819 he devised the Wimbledon property to his eldest son and partner, subject to the life interest of his widow, whose legacies he now made conditional on her renouncing right of dower in the plantations. His personalty was sworn under £250,000 within the province of Canterbury; and it was generally reckoned that he was worth at least twice that sum.29 According to an obituary, Marryat, a devout believer in the ‘the awfulness’ and ‘the consolations of revealed religion’

possessed a great deal of general information [and] a clear, powerful and businesslike manner of speaking, which gave him great ascendancy in all public meetings connected with his own pursuits, and procured him an attentive hearing in the House of Commons.30

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 549-53.
  • 2. Add. 38282, ff. 92-95.
  • 3. Kentish Chron. 8 Feb., 3, 10 Mar. 1820.
  • 4. Cent. Kent. Stud. Sa/C2, mayor of Sandwich to Marryat, 17, 24 May 1821, 4 July 1822, replies, 28 May, 2, 13 June 1821, 21 June, 2, 13 July 1822.
  • 5. Add. 52444, f. 177.
  • 6. The Times, 11 July 1820.
  • 7. Ibid. 17, 27 Feb., 15, 17,20-22 Mar. 1821.
  • 8. Inst. of Commonwealth Stud. W.I. cttee. archives M915/3/4/457.
  • 9. The Times, 16, 31 May, 1 June 1821.
  • 10. HLRO, Hist. Coll. 379, Grey Bennet diary, 104a.
  • 11. L.M. Frazer. Hist. Trinidad, ii. 32-39, 61, 126-30, 140-3; G. Carmichael, Hist. Trinidad, 112-17; PP (1823), xvii. 325-673.
  • 12. The Times, 9 Mar. 1822.
  • 13. Ibid. 3, 11, 18 May, 4 June 1822.
  • 14. W.I. cttee. archives M915/4/1/33.
  • 15. The Times, 24, 31 July 1822.
  • 16. Ibid. 27 July 1822; Frazer, ii. 134-40.
  • 17. The Times, 6 Aug. 1822; PP (1823), xvii. 675-96.
  • 18. Add. 40319, f. 57.
  • 19. W.I. cttee. archives M915/4/1/74, 96.
  • 20. The Times, 4 Mar. 1823.
  • 21. Ibid. 11 Mar., 19 Apr. 1823.
  • 22. Ibid. 15 Apr. 1823.
  • 23. Ibid. 16 May 1823.
  • 24. D. Hall, W.I. Cttee. 22; The Times, 23 May 1823.
  • 25. The Times, 12, 20 June 1823.
  • 26. Ibid. 9 July 1823.
  • 27. W.I. cttee. archives M915/4/1/138, 148.
  • 28. Kentish Gazette, 13, 16 Jan. 1824; Gent.Mag. (1824), i. 372-3.
  • 29. PROB 11/1681/99; IR26/1007/169; Kentish Chron. 23 Jan. 1824.
  • 30. Gent. Mag. (1824), i. 374; Kentish Gazette, 13 Jan. 1824.