Martin, William Fanshawe (DNB01)

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MARTIN, Sir WILLIAM FANSHAWE, fourth baronet (1801–1895), admiral, son of Sir Thomas Byam Martin [q. v.], was born on 5 Dec. 1801. He entered the navy in June 1813, served under his father's flag off the Scheldt, and in January 1816 was appointed to the Alceste, then going to China with Lord Amherst [see Maxwell, Sir Murray; MacLeod, John]. After his return he was in the Prince Regent yacht with Sir Edward Hamilton [q. v.], and in the Glasgow frigate in the Mediterranean with Captain Anthony Maitland. On 15 Dec. 1820 he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Forte, and a few months later was moved into the Aurora, going out to the South American station, where, on 8 Feb. 1823, he was promoted to be commander of the Fly sloop.

In her he rendered valuable assistance to the British merchants at Callao in a time of civil war, and was ever afterwards best known in the navy as 'Fly' Martin. He attained post rank on 5 June 1824; from 1826 to 1831 he commanded the Samarang, a 28-gun frigate, in the Mediterranean; in 1844 and 1845 he was flag-captain at Sheerness, and from 1849 to 1852 was commodore in command of the Lisbon squadron. On 28 May 1853 he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral. From 1853 till his promotion to be vice-admiral on 13 Feb. 1858, he was superintendent of Portsmouth dockyard, and in 1859 he was one of the lords of the admiralty. In 1860 he was appointed to the command of the Mediterranean station, with his flag in the Marlborough. He held this for three years, and in that time effected a reform almost amounting to a revolution in the methods of naval discipline. Many of the ships were manned by 'bounty' men and were in a state bordering on mutiny. Even the flagship's crew was far from being a good one. But by tact, by care, by unremitting attention, and by judicious severity he brought the fleet into that admirable order which is still referred to in the navy as one of the glories of the past. When the commander-in-chief gave an order, he not only meant it to be obeyed but saw that it was obeyed, and the insistence was not always agreeable to the respective captains and commanders. He was thus by no means generally loved by officers of the higher ranks; but if not loved, he was feared, and the work was done. On 14 Nov. 1863 Martin was made an admiral; on the death of his cousin, Sir Henry Martin, third baronet, he succeeded to the baronetcy on 4 Dec. 1863; and from 1866 to 1869 was commander-in-chief at Plymouth. In April 1870 he was put on the retired list in accordance with the scheme brought out by Hugh Culling Eardley Childers [q. v. Suppl.] On 24 May 1873 he was made a G.C.B.,and in September 1878 he was appointed rear-admiral of the United Kingdom. During his later years he resided principally at Upton Grey, near Winchfield, and there he died on 24 March 1895.

Martin was twice married: first, in 1826, to Anne Best, daughter of the first Lord Wynford; she died in 1836, having had two sons who died young, and two daughters. Secondly, to Sophia Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Hurt of Wirksworth, by whom he had issue, besides five daughters, one son, Richard Byam Martin, who succeeded to the baronetcy. In 1879 Martin published a small pamphlet, 'Cyprus as a Naval Station and a Place of Arms,' which, as an exposition of Mediterranean strategy from one of the great masters of the art, is deserving of very close attention.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Army and Navy Gazette, 30 March 1895; Burke's Baronetage; Navy Lists; private information.]

J. K. L.