Biography of Fredrick Marryat

Portrait of Frederick Marryat

Fredrick Marryat was a nineteenth century novelist famous for his sea stories.

When and Where was he Born?

10th July 1792, London, England.

Family Background:

Frederick Marryat was the son of a Member of Parliament and colonial agent for the island of Grenada. His mother was of German descent. His mother came from a family of prominent American loyalists.


Private schooling at Holmwood School, Ponder’s End, Enfield Fellow classmate was Charles Babbage. Entered the Royal Navy as a Midshipman under Lord Cochrane at the age of 14.

Timeline of Captain Marryat:

1806: Marryat enters the Royal Navy at the age of fourteen as a Midshipman on board HMS Imperieuse. This frigate led by Lord Cochrane who was to be an inspiration to many writers including Marryat and is said to be the model for Forester’s Horatio Hornblower.

1808: He sails from Malta to cruise off Spain and the Balearic Islands. Was involved in fighting with other military vessels and the capture of nearly fifty merchant ships. In July the ships company captured the Castle of Mongat and took the French garrison as prisoners.

1809: Frederick Marryat catches malaria and is returned to England aboard HMS Victorious.

1810: He serves in the Mediterranean on board the Flagship HMS Centaur.

1811: He sails the seas of the West Indies and North America on HMS Aeolus and in November HMS Spartan.

1813: He is still in the West Indies but aboard HMS Espiegle.

1814: He is promoted to a Lieutenant and serves aboard HMS Newcastle under Captain Lord George Stuart fighting American privateers.

1815: Marryat serves aboard the sloop HMS Beaver off St Helena to guard against attempts to rescue Napoleon Bonaparte. His health is still poor and he leaves the ship in Madeira. He becomes interested in scientific study and amongst other things he invents a lifeboat which earn him a Gold Medal from the Royal Humane Society. He is promoted to the rank of Commander in June.

1819: He marries Catherine Sharp the daughter of the British consul Sir Stephen Sharp. He is elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

House in London lived in by Marryat
The House in Manchester Square, Central London where Captain Marryat lived. (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1820: Now in command of HMS Beaver and HMS Rosario on which he carries the dispatches to England of the death of Napoleon. He makes a sketch of the former Emperor on his death bed which was later published as a lithograph and sold in England as well as France. Much of his other work at the time was trying to thwart smuggling across the English Channel.

1824: He fights in the First Burmese War and works out of Rangoon. He goes on an expedition up the Bassein River which results in large losses of men due to disease.

1825: He is appointed to command HMS Tees.

1826: Frederick Marryat returns to England.

1829: He commands the frigate HMS Ariadne as a Captain around the waters of Madeira and the Canaries doing research work on undersea rock shoals.

1830: He perceives his work at sea now a pointless exercise and resigns his command to take up writing full time.

1832: Marryat begins to edit the Metropolitan Magazine in which several of his own novels are first serialised.

1833: He is awarded the French Legion D’Honneur.

1836: He moves to live in Brussels. One of his best known works “Mr Midshipman Easy” is first published in this year.

1837: He is involved in Lower Canada when a rebellion breaks out and fights with the British forces to quell it. He then travels around Canada and the United States.

1838: Birth of his daughter Florence who was later to become a popular writer in her own right, as well as a opera singer.

1839: Marryat is now back in London where his literary circle of friends includes Charles Dickens as well as the poet Samuel Rogers.

1841: Marryat now turns his attention to writing children’s books as they sell well and “Masterman Ready” is published in this year.

1843: He moves out of the city and finally settles at Manor Cottage in Langham, Norfolk where he continues writing and tending his small farm.

1847: Death of his eldest son Frederick who drowned in the sinking of a paddle frigate the Avenger off the north coast of Africa. He stays in London briefly whilst consulting doctors over his ill health due to the malaria he had contracted in his youth but they couldn’t do anything for him.

When and Where did he Die?

9th August 1848, Langham, Norfolk, England from complications due to malaria contracted in his youth.

Age at death:


Written Works:

1829: “The Naval Officer, or Scenes in the Life and Adventures of Frank Mildmay”.
1830: “The King’s Own.”
1832: “Newton Forster or, the Merchant Service”.
1834: “Jacob Faithful.” “Peter Simple”.
1835: “The Pacha of Many Tales”.
1836: “Japthet in Search of a Father.” “Mr. Midshipman Easy.” “The Pirate”. “The Three Cutters”.
1837: “Snarleyyow, or the Dog Fiend”.
1839: “The Phantom Ship.” “Diary in America”.
1840: “Poor Jack”. “Olla Podrida”.
1841: “Percival Keene”.
1843: “Monsieur Violet .”
1845: “The Mission, or Scenes in Africa”
1846: “The Privateer’s Man or One Hundred Years Ago.”
1847: “The Children of the New Forest.”.
(1848): “The Little Savage”. “Valerie”.


1819 to Catherine Sharp the daughter of the British consul Sir Stephen Sharp.

Site of Grave:

St. Andrew and St. Mary’s Churchyard, Langham, Norfolk, England.

Places of Interest: