Frederick Chamier

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Frederick Chamier (1796–1870) was an English novelist and naval captain born in London, author of several nautical novels.[1]


He was the son of an Anglo-Indian official, John Ezechial Camier and his wife Georgiana, daughter of Vice-admiral Sir William Burnaby.[2]

He entered the Royal Navy in 1809 and joined the frigate Salsette as a midshipman. [3] In May 1810, while Chamier was serving on Salsette, he watched Lord Byron swim across the Hellespont at the second attempt. Chamier described the episode in The Life of a Sailor.

After service on the 74-gun Fame he was transferred to Arethusa fighting the slave trade, followed by another transfer to Menelaus. He briefly commanded the 10-gun brig Britomart in 1827; she was very soon paid off.[4] He had no further employment, and in 1833 was placed on the retired list of the navy, on which he was promoted to be captain on 1 April 1856.[3]

Retiring in 1827, he wrote his autobiography, The Life of a Sailor, which was serialised in The Metropolitan Magazine (1831–32). He also wrote sea novels somewhat in the style of Marryat, including The Unfortunate Man (1835), Ben Brace, the Last of Nelson's Agamemnons (1836), The Arethusa (1837), Jack Adams, or the Mutiny of the Bounty (1838), The Spitfire (1840), Tom Bowling (1841), Jack Malcolm's Log (1846). He also continued William James Naval History, and wrote books of travel.

Chamier's most popular books were: Life of a Sailor, with six reprints from 1832 to 1873, Ben Brace, with 11 reprints from 1836 to 1905, Tom Bowling, with 5 reprints from 1858 to 1905, and The Spitfire, with 3 reprints from 1840 to 1861.

In 1870 The Times described Chamier as "a veteran novelist, one, indeed, whose sea novels some quarter of a century ago were almost as universally popular as those of Captain Marryat." The only detailed publication on Chamier's life and works is an exhaustive Ph.D. dissertation by P. J. van der Voort, The Pen and the Quarterdeck (Leiden University Press, 1972).

Frederick Chamier claimed to be related to the 17th-century French Huguenot politician Daniel Chamier. He died on 29 October 1870 in Paris.[5]


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chamier, Frederick". Encyclopædia Britannica 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 825. 
  2. ^ "The Chamiers of Epsom". Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  3. ^ a b Laughton 1887.
  4. ^ Nelson's Navy in Fiction and Film. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  5. ^ J. K. Laughton, "Chamier, Frederick (1796–1870)", rev. Roger Morriss, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 Retrieved 1 March 2015. Pay-walled.

Further reading[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource