John Marshall (Royal Navy officer)

John Marshall (Marshallese: Jo̧o̧n M̧ajeļ) (26 February 1748 NS (15 February 1747 OS) – 1819) was a British explorer of the Pacific. The Marshall Islands are named after him.

John Marshall
Born(1748-02-26)26 February 1748
Ramsgate, Great Britain
Died1819 (aged 71)
Allegiance Great Britain
Service/branch Royal Navy
Commands heldScarborough
Battles/warsAmerican Revolutionary War
Napoleonic Wars


Marshall was born in Ramsgate, Kent, England. He became an apprentice sailor at age ten, and spent his life at sea. In 1788 he captained the Scarborough, a ship of the First Fleet taking convicts from England to Botany Bay.[1] He then sailed from Australia to China, charting previously unknown islands (mainly some of Gilbert Islands and Marshall Islands), as well as a new trade route to Canton (now Guangzhou).[2] The islands which he had originally called "Lord Mulgrove's range" were later named by Thomas Gilbert[3] the Marshall Islands.

John Marshall also captained the Scarborough on her second voyage transporting convicts to Australia in 1790, but the convicts coming aboard were in poor health and many did not survive the voyage; this, combined with an attempted seizure of the ship by the convicts, deterred him from any further voyages of transportation.

He saw action during the American Revolutionary War of 1778 to 1783, and also during the Napoleonic Wars of 1803 to 1815. As captain of the ship Diana he was severely wounded[when?] while repulsing an attack by a French privateer. He died in 1819 at the age of 71.


  1. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison (22 May 1944). "The Gilberts & Marshalls: A distinguished historian recalls the past of two recently captured pacific groups". Life. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
  2. ^ Barrie Macdonald (1982). Cinderellas of the Empire: towards a history of Kiribati and Tuvalu. Australian National University Press. ISBN 982-02-0335-X. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
  3. ^ The Gilberts and Marshalls by Samuel Eliot Morison in Life 22 May 1944