Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bladen, Martin

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BLADEN, MARTIN (1680–1746), soldier and politician, was the son of Nathaniel Bladen of Hemsworth, Yorkshire, by Isabella, daughter of Sir William Fairfax of Steeton, and was born in 1680. He is said to have passed a short time at a small private school in the country with the great Duke of Marlborough, and from 1696 to 1697 was at Westminster School. He went into the army, and served in the low countries and in Spain, becoming aide-de-camp to Lord Galway, and rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. When he determined upon adopting a parliamentary career, he contested the Comisn constituency of Saltash in 1713 and 1715 in the whig interest, but was rejected on both occasions. For noneteen years (1715-34) he sat for Stockbridge in Hampshire, from 1734 to 1741 he represented Maldon in Essex, and from the latter year until his death he sat for Portsmouth. In 1714 he was appointed comptroller of the mint, and from 1717 to 1746 he was a commissioner of trade and plantations, So complete a sinecure was the latter post that when the colonel applied himself to the business, such as it was, of his office, he went by the name of ‘trade,’ while his colleagues were called the ‘board.’ He refused in 1717 the appointment of envoy extraordinary to Spain, bunt accepted the post of first commissury and plenipotentiary to the conference at Antwerp in 1732 for drawing up the tariff's between this country, the Emperor of Germany, and the States General. He ranked among the steadiest supporters of Sir Robert Walpo1e, and often spoke in the debates on fiscal, naval, or military matters, his adherence being so marked that Horace Walpole says (Letters, i. 130) that it was proposed to impeach him for his share in the Antwerp conference. Bladen died 15 Feb. 1746, and was buried in the chancel of Stepney Church, the inscription on the tomb being preserved in Lysons's ‘Environs.’ His first wife was Mary, daughter of Colonel Gibbs; the second, whom he married in 1728, was Frances, niece and heir of Colonel Joseph Jory, and widow of John Foche of Aldborough Hatch, Essex. With her he acquiied a considerable estate, and on it he built a new house, now destroyed, at a considerable cost. She died 14 Aug. 1747. His sister was the mother of Lord Hawke, the great admiral, in whose advancement he materially aided. The colonel composed a dull tragi-comedy, ‘Solon, or Philosophy no Defence against Love. With the masque of Orpheus and Euridice’ (1705), and translated ‘Caesar’s Commentaries of his Wars in Gaul, and Civil War with Pompey, with supplement commentaries and life.’ The latter work, which was dedicated to the Duke of Marlborough, originally appeared in 1712, and the seventh edition was published in 1770. To an issue which was brought out in 1750, Bowyer, the learned printer, added many notes signed ‘Typogr.’ These were included, with many additional observations, in Bowyer's ‘Miscell. Tracts' (1785), pp. 189-222. A person of the name of Bladen is satirised in the fourth book of Pope’s ‘Dunciad,’ line 500, and this is sometimes supposed to have referred to Martin Bladen.

[Welch's Westminster Scholars, p. 230; Lysons's Environs, iii. 430-1, iv. 86; Nichols’s Lit. Anecdotes, ii. 222-3; Morant's Essex, i. 7; Blore’s Rutland, 180-1; Burrows's Lord Hawke, 77, 110-32; Notes and Queries, 2nd series, vii. 326, 1865.]

W. P. C.