Martin, Martin (DNB00)

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MARTIN, MARTIN (d. 1719), author, born in the Island of Skye, became factor to the Laird of Macleod and, mainly at the request of Sir Robert Sibbald [q. v.] the antiquary, travelled over the western islands of Scotland, collecting information regarding the condition and habits of the islanders. In 1697 he contributed a shortpaper on the subject to the Royal Society's 'Philosophical Proceedings,' xix. 727. This was elaborated and published, with a map, in London in 1703, under the title of 'A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland.' It has been wrongly stated (Toland, notes, infra) that for this work Martin was made a fellow of the Royal Society. Several editions of the book were published, and it has been reprinted, the last reprint being issued in Glasgow in 1884. On 29 May 1697, in company with the minister of Harris, he sailed in an open boat to St. Kilda, and in the following year appeared his 'Voyage to St. Kilda,' describing the island and its inhabitants. It reached a fourth edition in 1753, and it too has been reprinted (Paterson, Voyages, &c.) In the 'Philosophical Transactions,' xxv. 2469, there is a second paper by him on 'A Relation of a Deaf and Dumb Person who recovered his Speech and Hearing after a Violent Fever,' 'Martinus Martin, Scoto-Britannus,' entered Leyden University March 1710, and graduated M.D. there (Peacock, Index of Leyden Students, p. 65). He died in London in 1719.

Martin's 'Description of the Western Islands ' was given to Dr. Johnson to read by his father, and roused the doctor's interest in Scotland, which afterwards resulted in the famous tour. Although Johnson was interested in the work and took it with him to the highlands, he had a poor opinion of its literary merits. 'No man,' he said, 'now writes so ill as Martin's account of the Hebrides is written.'

[Annotations by J. Toland in a copy of Martin's Description of the Western Highlands in Brit. Mus.; Buchan's St. Kilda; Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson; Brydges's Censura Literaria, i. 358-80; Brit. Mus. Cat ]

J. R. M.