Frederick, born in Bridgwater, Somerset, was born into a Quaker family, the son of John Horniman, who established Horniman's Tea, a tea business using mechanical packaging. By 1891, it was said to be the biggest tea company in the world.
He founded the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, south London. In 1901, he gave the 15 acres (6.1 ha) freehold estate, museum and the art and natural history collections to London County Council for use by the people of London.
In 1859 he married Rebekah Emslie (1825–1895). Their son Emslie John Horniman (1863–1932) was Liberal MP for Chelsea (1906–10). He continued to develop the museum, and was a noted art collector and patron in his own right, who rebuilt his homes at Burford Priory in Oxfordshire (under Walter Godfrey) and at Garden Corner, Chelsea (under C.F.A. Voysey). Their daughter, Annie Horniman (1860–1937), worked in theatre, being a founder of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.
His first wife died in 1895, and in 1897 he married Minnie Louisa Bennett; they had two daughters.
- Charlotte Fell Smith (1912). . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- "Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Trust – GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. 31 August 2022.
- Michael Horniman, ‘Horniman, Frederick John (1835–1906)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2007 accessed 21 Jan 2011
- "Falmouth". The Cornubian and Redruth Times. No. 1965. 15 February 1901. p. 5.
- ‘Horniman, Annie Elizabeth Fredericka (1860–1937)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 accessed 27 Feb 2013
- Who was Who 1897–2007
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Frederick John Horniman
- Media related to Frederick John Horniman at Wikimedia Commons