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Marriott, Francis (Frank) (1876–1957)

by E. J. Smith

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Francis (Frank) Marriott (1876-1957), farmer and politician, was born on 10 July 1876 at Kennington, Surrey, England, son of William Kenaz Marriott, merchant's clerk, and his wife Maria, née Maycock. Like his three brothers, Frank attended Stamford Grammar School, Lincolnshire, then joined the family business as a junior clerk. He disliked city life and went to sea at the age of 19. His travels took him to the United States of America where he worked for five years on road-construction projects. In 1902 he moved to Scotland but within twelve months sailed for Australia. Stranded in Hobart in 1903, he packed his swag, roamed the country and eventually bought a mixed farm near Elliott. At St Paul's Anglican Church, Emu Bay, on 4 April 1907 he married 33-year-old Alice Maud Harrison (d.1950).

Commissioned in the Australian Imperial Force on 1 June 1915, Marriott served in Egypt and France. On 25 February 1917 at Bapaume he was blinded by bullet-wounds to both eyes; he was invalided to Tasmania where his A.I.F. appointment terminated on 22 September. He joined the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia, worked on repatriation committees and addressed conscription meetings. In 1919 Marriott sailed with his family for England. At St Dunstan's Hostel for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors, London, he learned Braille, typewriting, joinery and poultry-farming. This training gave new purpose to his life. He became a spokesman for St Dunstan's and was received by its patron, King George V, at Windsor Castle in April 1920.

On his return to Tasmania, Marriott was invited by the Nationalist Party to stand for the House of Assembly. He represented the division of Darwin from June 1922 to December 1941. Preparing for his retirement, he moved to Launceston, but was persuaded to contest Bass which he represented until November 1946. As a politician, he drew on a well-developed memory and the devotion of his wife who read aloud to him from the bills listed for debate.

In addition to his work with blind ex-servicemen, Marriott had engaged in numerous charitable and community activities during his political career. He was federal president (1931-34) of Toc H, a member of Legacy and a board-member of the Tasmanian Institution for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb. A committed Anglican layman, he was a long-time member of the Australian synod and of the Tasmanian diocesan council. As chief commissioner of the Boy Scouts' Association, he was awarded (1933) its gold medal of merit. He was appointed C.M.G. in 1934.

Marriott had a resonant voice and was forthright in his speech. A man of quick, incisive wit, he never compromised his integrity for the sake of popularity. He died on 9 February 1957 in Hobart and was cremated. His four sons survived him: Frederick Marriott was a member (1946-61) for Bass and John represented (1953-75) Tasmania in the Senate. A. L. McIntyre's portrait of Francis Marriott is held by the family.

Select Bibliography

  • Mercury (Hobart), 1 Jan 1934, 11, 12 Feb 1957
  • Examiner (Launceston), 6 July 1950, 14 Feb 1957
  • Advocate (Burnie), 9 Nov 1946
  • P. Hay, interview with J. E. Marriott, 20 May-20 Dec 1988 (transcript of 17 tapes, Commonwealth Parliament's Oral History Project)
  • E. J. Smith, Time is the Builder—A History of the Royal Tasmanian Society for the Blind and Deaf, 1887-1987 (manuscript, 1991, privately held)
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

E. J. Smith, 'Marriott, Francis (Frank) (1876–1957)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/marriott-francis-frank-11058/text19679, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 18 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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