Martin, William (1696?-1756) (DNB00)

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MARTIN, WILLIAM (1696?–1756), admiral, was the son of Commodore George Martin (d. 1724), and, it is said, a kinsman of Admiral Sir John Norris [q. v.] He entered the navy as a ' volunteer per order,' or ' king's letter boy,' on board the Dragon, with his father, 26 Aug. 1708 (Commission and Warrant Book, 12 Aug. 1708). When the Dragon went to Newfoundland in May 1710, Martin was put on shore at Plymouth 'for his health' (Dragon's Pay Book). He must have been entered on board some other ship almost immediately, for on 30 July 1710 he was promoted by Sir John Norris in the Mediterranean to be second lieutenant of the Resolution. On 4 Jan. 1711-12 he was appointed by Sir John Jennings, also in the Mediterranean, to the Superbe, in which he continued till July 1714 (Comm. and Warr. Books; Admiralty Lists). During 1716 and 1716 he was in the Cumberland, flagship of Sir John Norris in the Baltic. In 1717 he was in the Rupert; in 1718 again with Norris in the Cumberland. On 9 Oct. 1718 he was promoted to the rank of captain, and took post from that date. On 5 Nov. 1718 he was appointed to the Seahorse; and on 9 Feb. 1719-20 to the Blandford, which during the summers of 1720-1 was attached to the Baltic fleet under Norris, and was afterwards employed in American waters in the suppression of piracy. From 1727 to 1732 he commanded the Advice in the fleet at Gibraltar or in the Channel, under Sir Charles Wager; and from 1733 to 1737 the Sunderland on the home station, at Lisbon, or in the Mediterranean. In May 1738 he was appointed to the Ipswich, one of the fleet in the Mediterranean under Rear-admiral Nicholas Haddock [q. v.] In January 1740-1 he was ordered to hoist a broad-pennant in command of a detached squadron oft' Cadiz, and in July 1742 was sent by Admiral Thomas Mathews [q. v.] to enforce the neutrality of Naples. With three ships of the line, two frigates, and four bomb-vessels he sailed into Naples Bay on the afternoon of 9 Aug., and sending his flag-captain, De Langle, on shore, requested an immediate and categorical answer to his demands. The Neapolitans attempted to make conditions, and De Langle returned to the ship with their deputy. Martin replied that he was sent ‘as an officer to act, not a minister to treat,’ and desired De Langle to go back and insist on an answer in half an hour. Martin's force was small, but immensely superior to any the Neapolitans could oppose to it, and they necessarily yielded to the pressure put on them; but Charles (afterwards Charles III of Spain) neither forgot nor forgave the indignity.

He was subsequently employed in protecting Tuscany from any attempt on the part of the Spaniards, and in February 1742–3 was sent to Genoa to require the destruction of some magazines which the Spaniards had formed on Genoese territory; if any opposition was offered he was to bombard the city. He was afterwards sent to Ajaccio, where he found a Spanish ship entering recruits for the Spanish army. Here, too, resistance was impossible, and on his demand the men were landed and the ship was burnt. Towards the end of the year he returned to England, and on 7 Dec. was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral. In February 1743–4 he commanded in the Channel fleet under Sir John Norris. On 19 June 1744 he was advanced to be vice-admiral, and was second in command in the fleet which went to Lisbon under Sir John Balchen [q. v.] After Balchen's death he was appointed to the chief command, which he held through 1745. In December he was sent into the North Sea under Admiral Vernon, and on Vernon's dismissal succeeded to the command. On 15 July 1747 he was promoted to be admiral of the blue; but piqued, it may be, at Anson, who was his junior, taking on himself the command in the Channel, he obtained leave to retire. He settled down at Twickenham, and died there on 17 Sept. 1756, ‘being then about sixty years old’ (Charnock). According to Charnock ‘he not only possessed a considerable share of classical learning, but spoke the French, Spanish, Italian, and German languages with the greatest ease and fluency. In his person he was remarkably handsome and particularly attentive to his dress, manners, and deportment. When in command he lived in the greatest splendour, maintaining his rank in the highest style.’ It does not appear that he was married. Sir George Martin [q. v.], admiral of the fleet, was his grand-nephew, grandson of his brother Dr. Bennet Martin.

[The Memoir in Charnock's Biog. Nav. iv. 69 is wrong in its account of Martin's early life and service, which is here given from the official documents in the Public Record Office; Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Memoirs; Walpole's Letters (Cunningham), vol. i. freq.; Doran's Mann and Manners at the Court of Florence, vol. i. freq.]

J. K. L.