Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Marryat, Charles (1827–1906)

by T. T. Reed

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Charles Marryat (1827-1906), by unknown photographer, c1875

Charles Marryat (1827-1906), by unknown photographer, c1875

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B25298

Charles Marryat (1827-1906), Anglican clergyman, was born on 26 June 1827 at Clarence Terrace, London, eldest son of Charles Marryat, West Indian merchant, and his wife Caroline, sister of Augustus Short, bishop of Adelaide. He was a nephew of Captain Frederick Marryat, R.N., novelist, and his sister Augusta Sophia married Sir Henry Young, governor of South Australia. Educated at Dr Deane's School near Twyford, Hampshire, and at Eton, Charles graduated from The Queen's College, Oxford (B.A., 1851; M.A., 1854). He was ordained priest in 1852 and served a curacy in Kent before sailing for Sydney as chaplain on an emigrant ship in 1852. After a brief chaplaincy to penal establishments at Darlinghurst and Cockatoo Island he proceeded next year to Adelaide where he became assistant curate to the Very Rev. James Farrell at Holy Trinity Church.

In 1857 Marryat was appointed canon and became incumbent of St Paul's, Port Adelaide, a church whose size he doubled in two years; by 1864 when it was consecrated, the building debt had been liquidated. In June 1868 he was made rector of Christ Church, North Adelaide, and archdeacon of Adelaide. Some of the congregation objected to his appointment which was made on the casting vote of the bishop, who was his uncle. The dissentients obtained an injunction to restrain Marryat from preaching, but in July it was dissolved and he assumed his duties. At North Adelaide he renovated and added to the church and parsonage and built a day school. Marryat was a remarkable parish priest; the secret of his success was his consistent and systematic visiting on foot.

As examining chaplain to the bishop and as archdeacon he served on synod's standing committee and its financial board. After his appointment as dean of Adelaide in 1887, Marryat twice administered the diocese during the absence overseas of Bishop George Kennion. He took a leading part in establishing The Cottage Homes (Inc.) for the Aged and Infirm, Poor and Widows.

Bishop John Harmer described Marryat as a 'man of strong opinions'. An example of his outspokenness was his 1894 press protest against 'our most beautiful hymns … desecrated by their inappropriate use on the Melbourne scaffold'. In 1896 he condemned the government for giving way to the greed of local settlers and closing the Aboriginal reserve and mission at Poonindie. Another contemporary admired his 'transparent honesty … and energy'. When Kennion returned to England in 1894, some leading clergymen wished to nominate Marryat to the bishopric but he refused; praised for his administration of the diocese in the interregnum, he said laconically, 'I have always tried to do my duty. No man can do more; I hope I shall never do less'. Although concise and clear, he was not a brilliant speaker. He administered the diocese again when Harmer resigned from May 1905.

Marryat became the doyen of the clergy. He was devout in a way that needed few of the externals of worship, was prominent in framing synodical regulations, and active in establishing the General Synod of the Church of England in Australia and Tasmania.

On 8 August 1854 in Trinity Church, Adelaide, he had married Grace Montgomery, daughter of Rev. Charles Beaumont Howard; they had six daughters and three sons. Marryat died at North Adelaide on 29 September 1906 and was buried in North Road cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • A. C. Fox-Davies, Armorial Families (Lond, 1906)
  • G. H. Jose, Annals of Christ Church, North Adelaide (Adel, 1921)
  • G. H. Jose, The Church of England in South Australia, vol 2, 1856-1881 (Adel, 1954)
  • Church News, 7 Feb 1896
  • Year Book of the Church of England in the Diocese of Adelaide
  • S. J. Way, letter-book, 1904 (State Records of South Australia).

Citation details

T. T. Reed, 'Marryat, Charles (1827–1906)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/marryat-charles-7497/text13069, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 21 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Charles Marryat (1827-1906), by unknown photographer, c1875

Charles Marryat (1827-1906), by unknown photographer, c1875

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B25298