Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Marriott, John (1780-1825)

MARRIOTT, JOHN (1780–1825), poet and divine, baptised at Cotesbach Church, Leicestershire, 11 Sept. 1780, was third and youngest son of Robert Marriott (d. 1808), D.C.L., rector of that parish, and of Gilmorton in the same county, by his wife Elizabeth (d. 1819), daughter and'only child of George Stow of Walthamstow, Essex. He was entered at Rugby School at Midsummer 1788, and matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 10 Oct. 1798. At the first public examination in 1802 he was one of the two who obtained a first class in classics, his examiners being Edward Copleston, Henry Phillpotts, and S. P. Rigaud, and in that year he graduated B.A. and obtained a studentship at Christ Church. In 1806 he proceeded M.A. He left Oxford in 1804 to live at Dalkeith as tutor to George Henry, lord Scott, elder brother of the fifth Duke of Buccleuch. He remained at Dalkeith until his pupil's early death in 1808, and during this period of his life he was on very intimate terms with Sir Walter Scott. Marriott was ordained priest on 22 Dec. 1805, and was instituted on 28 April 1807 to the rectory of Church Lawford in Warwickshire, a benefice in the gift of the Buccleuch family, which he retained until his death. Through the continued ill-health of his wife he was compelled to live in Devonshire, where he served the curacies of St. James, Exeter, St. Lawrence, Exeter, and Broad Clyst. In the latter parish his memory was cherished for more than twenty years after his death. In the summer of 1824 he was seized with ossification of the brain and was removed to London for better advice without result. He died there on 31 March 1825, and was buried in the burial-ground belonging to St. Giles-in-the-Fields, which was attached to Old St. Pancras Church. He married in 1808 Mary Ann Harris, daughter of Thomas Harris, solicitor, of Rugby, and of Ann Harrison, his wife; she died at Broad Clyst, 30 Oct. 1821. They had issue four sons, John, Thomas, Charles [q.v.] , and George, and one daughter, Mary Ann.

Marriott was a good preacher, in sympathy of friendship, if not of religious belief, with such evangelicals as John Bowdler and the Thorntons, and his fascinating manners endeared him to all who came in contact with him. Scott addressed to him the second canto of ‘Marmion,’ with allusions to his store of classic and of Gothic lore, to their poetic talk, and to Marriott's harp, which, though strung on the banks of Isis, ‘to many a border theme has rung.’ These poems were his contributions to the third edition of Scott's ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,’ which consisted of ‘The Feast of the Spurs,’ ‘On a Visit paid to the Ruins of Melrose Abbey,’ and ‘Archie Armstrong's Aith.’ His most famous composition is the poem of ‘Marriage is like a Devonshire Lane,’ which is printed in Joanna Baillie's ‘Collection of Poems,’ 1823, pp. 163–4, the Rev. S. Rowe's ‘Dartmoor,’ p. 88, Worth's ‘West Country Garland,’ 1875, pp. 97–8, Smiles's ‘Life of Telford,’ ed. 1867, pp. 7–8, and Everitt's ‘Devonshire Scenery,’ pp. 17–18; in the last-mentioned collection (pp. 232–3) is also a poem by Marriott with the title of ‘A Devonshire Sketch.’ Several sets of verses and numerous letters by him are in C. Kirkpatrick Sharpe's ‘Letters,’ 1888, i. 235–377; to him is attributed ‘The Poetic Epistle to Southey from his Cats,’ which is printed in the ‘Doctor,’ ed. 1848, p. 682, and Burgon quotes some lines by him on the christening day of his son Charles. He was the author of several hymns, especially of (1) ‘Thou whose Almighty Word,’ in ‘The Friendly Visitor,’ 1825, which has been frequently reproduced with slight variations and translated into many languages; (2) ‘A Saint. O would that I could claim,’ which was printed in Mrs. Fuller Maitland's ‘Hymns for Private Devotion,’ 1827, pp. 182–3, and ‘The Friendly Visitor,’ 1834; (3) ‘When Christ our human form did bear,’ written in 1816 for Up-Ottery parochial schools (Julian, Hymnology, pp. 715, 1579). Two manuscript volumes of his poetry belong to the Misses Marriott of Eastleigh, near Southampton.

Marriott's publications were: 1. ‘Sermon preached in Trinity Church, Coventry, at the Archdeacon's Visitation,’ 1813; afterwards included in his ‘Sermons,’ ed. 1838. 2. ‘Hints to a Traveller into Foreign Countries,’ 1816, emphatic in favour of the observance of the Sabbath. 3. ‘Sermons,’ 1818, dedicated to the Duke of Buccleuch, with warmest gratitude for the happiness enjoyed for some years under his roof. 4. ‘Cautions suggested by Trial of R. Carlile for republishing Paine's “Age of Reason,”’ a sermon preached at Broad Clyst, 1819. 5. ‘Sermons,’ edited by his sons the Rev. John and the Rev. Charles Marriott, 1838, in which was included his sermon on the danger of schism, preached at Dr. Sandford's consecration, and reprinted in 1847 by Charles Marriott at the Littlemore press.

[Gent. Mag. 1821 pt. ii. p. 477, 1825 pt. i. p. 571; Rugby School Register, 1881, i. 65; Burgon's Twelve Good Men, 1st edit. pp. 297–302, 350; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Dean Church's Oxford Movement, p. 71; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. viii. 208, 277, 332–3, ix. 112; information from the Rev. G. S. Marriott of Cotesbach and Miss Marriott of Eastleigh.]

W. P. C.