Marriott, James (DNB00)


MARRIOTT, Sir JAMES (1730?–1803), lawyer and politician, was the son of an attorney in Hatton Garden, London, whose widow married a Mr. Sayer, a name well known in the law. He was admitted pensioner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 17 June 1746, elected scholar 27 Oct. 1747, graduated LL.B. 17 June 1751, LL.D. 25 March 1757, and was elected fellow 26 July 1756. His rise in life was secured when he arranged the library of the Duke of Newcastle, then chancellor of the university, and had the good fortune to present him with some poems on his visiting Cambridge in 1755. On 3 Nov. 1757 he was admitted to the College of Advocates, and in June 1764 was appointed, through 'interest rather than superior merit,' says Coote, to the post of advocate-general, but Lord Sandwich, writing to George Grenville, remarked : 'I believe Marriott is the fittest person in point of ability exclusive of other considerations' (Grenville Papers, ii. 346). In the same month (13 June 1764) he was elected master of his college, and in 1767 he became vice-chancellor of the university, when he attempted, without success, to obtain the erection, after his own designs, of an amphitheatre for public lectures and musical performances by means of a fund of 500l. which Walter Titley, envoy extraordinary at Denmark, had left at his disposal as vice-chancellor. In 176S Marriott was a candidate for the professorship of modern history, but it was given to Gray, and he remained without advancement until October 1778, when he was created judge of the admiralty court and knighted. At the general election of 1780 he contested the borough of Sudbury in Suffolk, and though not returned at the poll was seated on petition, 26 April 1781. He retained his seat until the dissolution in 1784, and held it again from 1796 until 1802. In March 1782 he caused great merriment in the House of Commons by his 'pedantic folly,' for in his desire to produce some proof of the justice of the war with the American colonies he observed that if representation were held necessary to give the rights of taxation, America was 'represented by the members for Kent, since in the charters of the thirteen provinces they are declared to be "part and parcel of the manor of Greenwich" ' (Stanhope, Hist. of England, vii. 205). He was again elected vice-chancellor of the university in November 1786, when he claimed exemption as one of his majesty's judges, and the senate by thirty-one votes to nineteen acquiesced in his view. He had some difference with the fellows at a college meeting, and for many years came to Cambridge as little as he could. In 1799 he resigned his judgeship, an annuity of 2,000l. a year being settled on him by parliament, and he died at Twinstead Hall, near Sudbury, on 21 March 1803, aged 72.

Marriott is described as 'less deficient in talent than in soundness of judgment.' In his youth he was 'gay and volatile,' and even in the admiralty court he displayed excessive jocularity. Gray wrote of him in 1766 that his follies should be pardoned 'because he has some feeling and means us well.' His writings were : 1. 'Two Poems presented to the Duke of Newcastle on his revisiting the University in order to lay the first Stone of the New 'Building,' 1765. 2. 'The Case of the Dutch ships considered,' 1758; 3rd edit. 1759; 4th edit, 1778. 3. 'A Letter to the Dutch Merchants in England' (anon.), 1759. 4. 'Poems written chiefly at the University of Cambridge. Together with a Latin Oration upon the History and Genius of the Roman and Canon Laws, spoken in the Chapel of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 21 Dec. 1756,' Cambridge, 1760. Marriott contributed verses to the Cambridge university sets on the peace, 1748, on the death of Frederick, prince of Wales, 1751, and to that in 1761 to the new queen. His verses were in the collections of Dodsley, vols. iv. and vi., Pearch, vols. ii. and i, Bell, vols. vi. ix. xii. xv. and xviii., Mendez, pp. 296-305, and Southey, vol. iii. 5. 'Political Considerations, being a few Thoughts of a Candid Man at the Present Crisis (anon.), 1762. 6. 'Rights and Privileges of the Universities, in a Charge at Quarter Sessions, 10 Oct, 1768. Also an Argument on the Poor's Kate charged on the Colleges of Christ and Emmanuel,' 1769. Of this production Gray writes: ' It moved the town's people to tears and the university to laughter.' See also Wordsworth's 'Universitv Life in the Eighteenth Centurv,' pp. ; 427-8, 'Schohe Academics?,' pp. 138, 327. 7. 'Plan of a Code of Laws for the Province of Quebec,' 1774. 8. 'Mémoire justificatif de la Grande Bretagne, en arretant les na- vires étrangers et les munitions destinées aux insurgens de l'Amérique,' 1779. 9. 'Formulary of Instruments and Writs used in the Admiralty Court.' Marriott wrote three papers, 117, 121, and 199, in the 'World,' and contributed an imitation of Ode vi. bk. ii. to Duncombe's 'Horace' in English verse (2nd edit.), i. 184. Two letters from him to Burke on Burke's speaking are in the latter's 'Correspondence,' 1. 97-8, 102-3, and one is in the 'Garrick Correspondence,' ii. 164-5.

A volume of the 'Decisions' by Sir George Hay and Marriott was published in 1801, another volume, edited by George Minot, was issued at Boston, U.S., in 1853, and one of his arguments is included in the 'Collectanea Juridica' of Francis Hargrove, i. 82-129. Numerous papers by him are in the possession of the Marquis of Lansdowne (Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. App. p. 139, and 6th Rep. App. p. 240) and Mr. C. F. Weston-Underwood (ib. 10th Rep. App. p. 239). His decisions were such, in the opinion of Judge Story, as no other person would ever follow.

[Gent. Mag. 1779 pt. ii. pp. 864, 951, 1803 pt. i. pp. 294, 379; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, vi. 617; Oldfield's Representative History, iv. 554; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, iv. 284, 351-2, 421; Coote's English Civilians, pp. 124-5; Letters of Gray and Mason, ed. Mitford, p. 412; Gray's Corresp. with Norton Nicholls, pp. 60-7, 76, 80-2; Gray's Works, ed. Gosse, iii. 320, 331; Gunning's Reminiscences, i. 125-7; Reuss's British Authors, ii. 64; Preface to World, ed. Chalmers, p. xlvi; information from Mr. W. G. Bell of Trinity Hall.]

W. P. C.