Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Martin, Samuel (1817-1878)

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1437785Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 36 — Martin, Samuel (1817-1878)1893Alfred Trice Martin

MARTIN, SAMUEL (1817–1878), congregational minister, the son of William Martin, a shipwright, was born at Woolwich, 28 April 1817. He received in youth religious instruction from the Rev. Thomas James of Salem Chapel, Woolwich. But in 1829 he went to London to be trained as an architect, and while living in 1832 in the family of Mr. Sutor, one of the partners in the firm of his employers, joined the established church. In September 1835 he threw up his profession and returned to Woolwich. After pursuing his studies in classics and theology he applied, in March 1836, to the London Missionary Society (congregationalist) for work in India, and entered Western College, Exeter, in the following August. In December 1838 he was appointed to a station at Chittúr in Madras, but in the following February the directors of the society decided that he was physically unfit for foreign work, and he accepted the charge of Highbury Chapel, Cheltenham. During the three years of his ministry there the congregation was increased fourfold, and a large debt discharged. In 1841 the Metropolitan Chapel Building Association built a new chapel in Westminster on the site of the old hospital, and in the following year Martin accepted the pastorate. His eloquence and steady devotion to his work attracted a large congregation, and he speedily became one of the leading ministers among the congregationalists. In 1855 he declined an invitation to the Pitt Street Church, Sydney, New South Wales. In 1862 he was elected chairman of the Congregational Union. The next year the rapid increase of the congregations made it necessary to rebuild the chapel and provide sittings for nearly three thousand people. In the increased work which such a congregation involved he was successively assisted by the Rev. E. Cecil and the Rev. A. D. Spong; and in 1876, owing to his failing health, the Rev. H. Simon became his co-pastor. He died on 6 July 1878, at the age of 61.

In the social regeneration of a neighbourhood which in 1842 was one of the worst in London, he worked steadily and successfully, and established, in addition to large and successful day-schools, a school for the reformation of criminals. He took an active part in the management of Westminster Hospital from 1845 to 1872. As a nonconformist he was consistent, but never polemical; and the communion plate which he presented to the hospital in 1869 is inscribed with his 'earnest prayers for the unity of all Christians,' His breadth of views, deep power of sympathy, and unswerving uprightness, gained him many friends outside his own denomination, among whom may be mentioned Thomas Campbell the poet and Dean Stanley. Though his preaching attracted large congregations, his style was singularly quiet and simple. In October 1839 he married Mary, daughter of John Trice of Tunbridge Wells, who, after a life devoted to aiding her husband's work, died in 1880.

Besides numerous sermons, lectures, and addresses, he wrote 'Discourses to Youth,' 1843 (other edits. with slightly altered titles), and he edited in 1851 a volume of essays on the Great Exhibition, called 'The Useful Arts: their Birth and Development.' The essay which he himself contributed attracted sufficient attention to be included in 1860 by the university of Calcutta in its volume of 'Selections from Standard English Authors.' In 1863 he published the 'Extra Work of a London Pastor,' which contained essays on criminal reform.

[Private information and personal knowledge.]

A. T. M.-n.