Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Martin, John (1789-1869)

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MARTIN, JOHN, M.D. (1789–1869), meteorologist, born in 1789, practised for some years as a physician in the city of London, and died at Lisbon on 8 July 1869. He was editor of a work which has always been held in high estimation, entitled 'An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, in the South Pacific Ocean, with an original Grammar and Vocabulary of their Language. Compiled and arranged from the extensive communications of Mr. William Mariner, several years resident in those Islands,' 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1817; 2nd edit. 1818; also reprinted as vol. xiii. of 'Constable's Miscellany.' A French translation appeared at Paris in November 1817. Mariner had been detained in friendly captivity from 1805 to 1810, and his narrative was generally corroborated by a sailor named Jeremiah Higgins, who had lived in Tonga for nearly three years previously. In 1827 Mariner was employed in the office of a London stockbroker, and he was drowned in the Thames some years previous to 1871.

The 'Athenæum' notices Martin's meteorological investigations as follows: 'In our own pages we have had occasion to record his labours during the last twenty years in the observation of atmospherical phenomena, especially with reference to pressure, temperature, and moisture. Martin laid down meteorological charts representing the varying aspects of months, seasons, and years from daily observation. He also made careful observation with reference to ozone, as well as on the characteristics and circumstances affecting cholera and yellow fever. These labours are the more commendable as the work of an old man, executed in different colours with scrupulous neatness, and mostly at night after the fatigue of practice.'

[Martin's Preface to second edition of An Account; Athenaeum, 7 Aug. 1869, p. 181; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. viii. 305, 407.]

G. G.