Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dr Thomas Marryat & A Happy Child from Barnet c1760

Caroline came up with a unusual question - relating to "A Happy Child" from Barnet who is mentioned in a spiritual song that was circulating in the United States and was first published in Boston, Massachusetts in 1767.

I investigate and find that a Presbyterian Minister, who was also a poet, left a chapel in Barnet in 1760 and went to America. He returned, initially to Ireland, in 1766 (the year before the song was published) and some years later his son married a lady from Boston, Massachusetts!

So he is a prime candidate for being the author - or is he???  I then find a broadside ballad entitled "A Children's Example" in a collection of English ballads, mainly from the 17th century, although some could be as late as 1790. Is it possible that Dr Thomas Marryat wrote the poem when he was at Barnet to frighten children to be good and God loving, had it printed, and then took a copy to America? Or perhaps it was a much older ballard with no connection with the rather eccentric doctor?

I don't know - so what do you think after reading the evidence at Thomas MARRYAT, Barnet, 1760 and "A Happy Child"

1 comment:

  1. 1) Not sure what biography you quote but that written by Florence Marryat Church traces the origin of the family back to the Norman Conquest. Elizabeth I sent a Marryat as part of an expedition to assist the Huguenots. On his return he is referred to as "this Huguenot officer," which perhaps was mininterpreted by a subsequent biographer.
    2) Zaphaniah was a Doctor of Divinity but not I think from Oxford or Cambridge. Did he too study at Edinburgh? His will is available at National Archives on Line but this is unlikely to throw light on the matter at hand.
    3) The Marryats owned sugar plantations in the West Indies and a number of slaves bore their name.


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