Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Martin, John (1791-1855)

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MARTIN, JOHN (1791–1855), bibliographer, born on 16 Sept. 1791, was son of John Martin of 112 Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, London. After assisting Hatchard, the bookseller of Piccadilly, he commenced business on his own account in Holles Street, Cavendish Square, but soon afterwards entered into partnership with Mr. Rodwell in Bond Street. He retired from business in 1826, but continued his bibliographical pursuits. He edited Gray's ‘Bard,’ 8vo, 1837, and Gray's ‘Elegy,’ 8vo, 1839 and 1854, with illustrations from drawings by the Hon. Mrs. John Talbot, and the ‘Seven Ages of Shakspeare,’ 4to, 1840; 8vo, 1848, illustrated with wood engravings. The production of these and numerous other illustrated books was the means of introducing him to the leading artists of the day. For many years, until 1845, he acted as secretary to the Artists' Benevolent Fund. In 1836 he was appointed librarian to the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey, and fixed his residence at Froxfield, in the parish of Eversholt, near Woburn. During his sojourn there he visited nearly every church in Bedfordshire, and wrote a description of each in a series of papers which appeared in the ‘Bedford Times’ and ‘Northampton Mercury.’ Martin died on 30 Dec. 1855 at Froxfield, and was buried in Eversholt churchyard. His wife died in 1836, and of six children three survived him. His eldest son, John Edward Martin, sub-librarian and afterwards librarian to the Inner Temple, died on 20 July 1893, aged 71 (Times, 26 July 1893).

In 1834 Martin published, as the result of years of labour and research, a ‘Bibliographical Catalogue of Books privately printed,’ 2nd edit., 8vo, 1854. The first edition contains an account of private presses and book clubs which Martin did not insert in the second edition, but at the time of his death he was preparing a separate volume, which was to contain this portion of the first edition with additions. He wrote also a ‘History and Description of Woburn and its Abbey; a new edition,’ 12mo, Woburn, 1845. At the request of Lord John Russell he compiled an ‘Enquiry into the authority for a statement in Echard's History of England regarding William, lord Russell,’ which was printed for private circulation in 1852, and published in 1856. It refuted the assertion that Lord Russell interfered to prevent the mitigation of the barbarous part of the punishment for high treason in the case of Viscount Stafford, upon the presentation of the petition of Sheriffs Bethel and Cornish to the House of Commons on 23 Dec. 1680. Martin likewise furnished some notes to Lord John Russell's edition of Rachel lady Russell's ‘Letters,’ 1853; and in 1855 he published a translation of Guizot's essay on the ‘Married Life of Rachel, Lady Russell.’ He left unfinished an edition of the ‘Letters of the Earl of Chatham to his Nephew.’ He was both F.S.A. and F.L.S.

[Gent. Mag. 1834 i. 62–4, 1856 pt. i. 317; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.]

G. G.