You might think it rather odd that Florence Marryat’s birthdate warrants a page all of its own. However, this is a vexed issue, to say the least. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (and therefore most accounts) states her birthdate as 9th July 1837, but no birth certificate exists. Although the registration of births became mandatory eight days before Florence’s supposed arrival, many people resented this bureaucratic intrusion into their lives and didn’t always make the trip to the register office. It wasn’t until 1875 that it became a legal requirement to register births within six weeks, and records became far more reliable thereafter.
There is, however, a record of the christening of one Florence Marryat on 21st August 1833, daughter of Frederick and Catherine Marryat. It took place at St Nicholas’ Church in Brighton, not far from where the family used to stay.
Andrew Maunder, in his excellent introduction to Love’s Conflict, has also argued for this earlier date on the grounds that it is cited in both her divorce records and death certificate. The former makes repeated references to Florence having been a month short of her twenty-first birthday when she married Thomas Ross Church in 1854. The files also include her original marriage certificate, giving the same age. Her death certificate states she was 66 years old when she passed away in October 1899.