Select Marriott Miscellany

Here are some Marriott stories and accounts over the years:

The Mariot/Marriott Name

Mariot is a diminutive of Mary, itself coming from the Hebrew and probably meaning "wished-for child."  The name as Maria or Mary was introduced into Europe by Crusaders in the 12th century.  In this case the suffix "ot" attached to a forename would indicate the diminitive or pet form.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hervicus Mariot.  This was dated 1185 in the register of the Knights Templars (Crusaders) in Warwickshire. 

Ben Mariot, the Great Eater

Ben Mariot was a lawyer in Gray's Inn in London at the time of Samuel Pepys.  He was known for his prodigious appetite.  It was said that, being born, he sucked his mother and half a dozen nurses dry.  As he increased in years, so did his stomach.  At 15, he could master a whole turkey and all its trimmings at a seating.  When adult, his ration was twelve pounds of meat each day.  

"Here to your views presented the great Eater,
Mariot the lawyer, Gray's Inn Cormorant;
Who for his gut is become a mere cheater;
Those that will feed him council shall not want."

This verse appeared with an engraving of the man that has been handed down.

The Marriotts from Horsmonden in Kent

James Marriott gained estates through marriage in Horsmonden, a small village near Tonbridge in Kent. Subsequent Marriotts were rectors of the local church.  They included in Victorian times the Rev. Sir William Marriott, the subject of Anthony Cronk's 1975 book, The Wealden Rector.

A branch of this family emigrated to America in the 1740's and settled in Ohio near Cincinnati.  The clergyman John Marriott never married.  But the line there has continued with other Marriotts.  

The Marriotts of Colston Bassett in Nottinghamshire

The Marriott family is thought to be the oldest family in the village.  They were recorded as living in the village as early as 1713.  The family purchased what is now known as Home Farm on Church Gate in 1801 when it was known as The Pingle and included five acres of land and buildings.

There is a stone in the churchyard in memory of John Marriott, "who successfully practised as a surgeon in this neighborhood for upwards of fifty years."  He died on January 2, 1874 in his eightieth year.  A year earlier, his grandson John had decided to emigrate and embarked on the Charlotte Gladstone for New Zealand.

Alice Marriott on the English Stage

Alice Marriott was an institution on the English stage in the mid 19th century.  She had a fine presence, a beautiful voice and phenomenal memory, and acted for well over forty years, deploying an enormous repertoire of long and difficult parts.  She had dramatic intensity to a degree and a high reputation as an emotional actress. 

She had as well a fondness for masculine doublet and hose and for playing the masculine parts which not infrequently were entrusted to women in those Victorian days.  Her Hamlet was famous.  She could do as she liked since she had her own company and was even for some years lessee of several theatres, including the Sadler's Wells and the Standard at Shoreditch.  She also played in the provinces and even took her own Hamlet to America in the 1870's.

Alice made a great deal of money and would have been wealthy had she not met and married a certain Robert Edgar.  He was convinced that he knew the best way to invest her money.  He had a mania for buying up shop property at high prices and then selling them, generally at a loss.

Marriott's Guesthouse in Tasmania

Charles Marriott purchased land around Russell Falls and conceived the idea of building a guest house on the banks of the Russell river nearby.  To make his dream a reality, he had to clear virgin land, using cross-cut saws, stump-jacks, mattocks and picks, assisted only by his children.  A six-roomed house was built for the Marriotts and afternoon teas were introduced for visitors in the area.  It was in 1910 that the Guesthouse first opened its doors to the public.

Charles was also a road contractor and was involved in the building of the road from Russell to Russell Falls. He had a "brake," which held eight passengers, and he used to drive to Russell each day to meet the train which brought the tourists, and take them back to his home where his wife Mabel would provide a welcome hot lunch.  After they had seen the Falls, Charles would return them to Russell in time to make the return train journey to Hobart.

In 1917 a railway extension was completed to Russell Falls and business grew rapidly.   The Guesthouse, now called Park House, was extended to thirty six rooms, with dining room seating for eighty people in one sitting.   And Russell Falls became part of the newly created National Park.

Cedric Marriott took over the management of Park House from his father until the property was sold in the 1950's.  Sadly the house burned down in 1964.

The First Marriott Hotel

In 1927 J. Willard Marriott and his wife Alice opened the first A&W root beer franchise on the East Coast, a nine-seat stand on 14th Street Northwest.  By then, his father's sheep business had been destroyed by the Depression.  Hyrum Marriott had borrowed $20 a head on his sheep before their value plummeted to $3 a head, a lesson in debt that left a deep imprint on J. Willard.

It was not until the 1950's that J. Willard opened his first hotel.  He had purchased a piece of land abutting the Twin Bridges where he planned to build a commissary there to supply his restaurants.  However, with the birth of the interstate highway program, some business associates convinced him that the land was too valuable for this sort of warehouse.  He decided instead to open what would become one of the country's first motor hotels.  It had 365 rooms, bellmen on bicycles. rooms at $8 per car with $1 extra for each person.

In late winter, though, the occupancy rate had dropped to 20 percent.  Bill Marriott went into his father's office and said:

"You've got me doing all these odds and ends around here, why don't you let me run the hotel?"
"You don't know anything about the hotel business," J. Willard said.
"Neither do you," Bill Marriott replied.

With his father's acquiescence, Bill Marriott then looked for ways to squeeze more money out of the hotel.

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