Martin, Thomas

, an English antiquary, was born at Thetford, in the school-house in St. Mary’s parish (the only remaining parish of that town in Suffolk), March 8, 1697. His grandfather, William, was rector of Stantori St. John, in Suffolk, where he was buried in 1677, His father William was rector of Great Livermere, and of St. Mary’s in Thetford, both in the same county. He married Elizabeth, only daughter of Mr. Thomas Eurrough, of Bury St. Edmonds, and aunt to the late sir James Burrough, master of Caius college, Cambridge: he died in 1721, aged seventy-one, and was buried in Livermere chancel, where his son Thomas, not long before his death, placed a monument for him, and his mother, and their children, who were then all dead except himself, “now by God’s permission residing at Palgrave.Thomas was the seventh of nine children. His school education was probably at Thetford. In 1715 he had been some time clerk to his brother Robert, who practised as an attorney there; but it appears by some objections to that employment in his own hand-writing, in that year, that he was very uneasy and dissatisfied with that way of life. As these give us the state of his mind, and the bent of his inclination at that early period, and may perhaps account for his succeeding unsettled turn "and little application to his business, they may be worth preserving in his own words.

Objections.—" First, my mind and inclinations are wholly to Cambridge, having already found by experience that I can never settle to my present employment. 2. I was always designed for Cambridge by my father, and I believe am the only instance in the world that ever went to school so long to be a lawyer’s clerk. 3. 1 always wished that I might lead a private retired life, which can never | happen if I be an attorney but on the contrary, I must have the care and concern of several people’s business besides mine own, &c. 4. If I be a lawyer, the will of the dead can never be fulfilled, viz. of my sister Elizabeth, who left 10l. to enter me at college; and aunt Burrough, to whom I have promised (at her earnest request) that I never would be a lawyer; nay, my brother himself had promised her I never should. 5. It was always counted ruination for young persons to be brought up at home, and I’m sure there’s no worse town under the sun for breeding or conversation than this. 6. Though I should serve my time out with my brother, I should never fancy the study of the law, having got a taste of a more noble and pleasant study. Questions. But perhaps these questions may be asked me, to which I shall answer as follows: Why I came to my brother at all? and have absented myself thus long from school? Or why I have not spoke my mind before this time? Answers. 1. Though I am with my brother, it was none of my desire (having always confessed an aversion to his employment), but was almost forced to it by the persuasion of a great many, ringing it in my ears that this was the gainfullest employment, &c. 2. Though I have lost some time in school learning, I have read a great deal of history, poetry, &c. which might have taken up. as much time at Cambridge had 1 kept at school. 3. I have staid thus long, thinking continual use might have made it easy to me; but the longer I stay, the worse I like it.

Thomas Martin, 1715.

He was, however, by some means or other, kept from executing his favourite plan of going to Cambridge. In 1722 be still probably resided at Thetford; for, having married Sarah the widow of Mr. Thomas Hopley, and daughter of Mr. John Tyrrel, of Thetford, his first child was born there that year; in 1723 his second was born at Palgrave in Suffolk, as were the rest. This wife bore him, eight children, and died Nov. 15, 1731, ten days after she had been delivered of twins. He very soon, however, repaired this loss, by marrying Frances, the widow of Peter le Neve, Norroy king at arms, who had not long been dead, and to whom he was executor. By this lady he came into the possession of a very valuable collection of English antiquities, pictures, &c. She bore him also about as many children as his former wife (four of whom, as well as five of the others, arrived at manhood), and died, we believe, | before him. He died March 7, 1771, and was buried, with others of his family, in Palgrave church-porch, where no epitaph as yet records the name of that man who has so industriously preserved those of others *, though Mr. Ives had promised his friends that he would erect a monument for him, and had actually drawn up a plain inscription for it.

Mr. Martin’s desire was not only to be esteemed, but to be known and distinguished by the name of, “Honest Tom Martin of Palgrave f,” an ambition in which his acquaintance saw no reason not to gratify him; and we have observed, with pleasure, several strokes of moral sentiment scattered about his rough church notes. These were the genuine effusions of his heart, not designed for the public eye, and therefore mark his real character in that respect. Had he desired the appellation of wise and prudent, his inattention to his business, his contempt and improper use of money, and his fondness for mixed and festive company, would have debarred him, as the father of a numerous, family, of that pretension. As an antiquary, he was most skilful and indefatigable; and when he was employed as an attorney and genealogist, he was in his element. He had the happiest use of his pen, copying, as well as tracing, with dispatch and exactness, the different writing of every aera, and tricking arms, seals, &c. with great neatness. His taste for ancient lore seems to have possessed him from his earliest to his latest days. He dated all the scraps of paper on which he made his church-notes, &c. Some of these begin as early as 1721, and end but the autumn before his death, when he still wrote an excellent hand; but he certainly began his collections even before the first mentioned period; for he appears among the contributors to Mr. Le Neve’s “Monumenta Anglicana,” printed in 1719. The latter part of his life was bestowed on the History of his native town of Thetford. His


Mr. Martin seems to have presaged that he might want this posthumous honour, as in a curious manuscript of church collections made by him, he had inserted the following pieces of poetry: When death shall have his due of me, This book my monument shall be. Or, These tombs by me collected here in one, When dead, shall be my monumental


Or in the old phrase:

Thus many tombs from different rooms By me collected into one, When I am dead, shall be instead

Of my own monumental stone.

He is thus called among the subscribers to Grey’s Hudibras, 1744,

| abilities, and the opportunities he derived from the collections of Peter Le Neve, esq. Norroy king at arms, render it unnecessary to enlarge on this, which Mr. Blomefield, thirty years before this publication encouraged the public to expect from his hands. The materials being left without the last finishing at Mr. Martin’s death, were purchased by Mr. John Worth, chemist, of Diss, F. S. A. who entertained thoughts of giving them to the publick, and circulated proposals, dated July 1, 1774, for printing them by subscription. Upon the encouragement he received, he had actually printed five sheets of the work, and engraved four plates. This second effort was prevented by the immature death of Mr. Worth, in 1775; who dying insolvent, his library, including what he had reserved of the immense collections of Le Neve and Martin at their dispersion on the death of the latter, being sold, with his other effects, for the benefit of his creditors, was purchased the same year by Mr. Thomas Hunt, bookseller at Harleston. Of him Mr. Gough bought the manuscript, with the undigested materials, copy-right, and plates. The first of these required a general revisal, which it received from the great diligence and abilities of Mr. Gough, who published it in 1779, 4to.

Mr. Martin’s collection of antiquities, particularly of such as relate to Suffolk, was very considerable, greater than probably ever were before, or will be hereafter, in the possession of an individual; their fragments have enriched several private libraries. His distresses obliged him to dispose of many of his books, with his manuscript notes on them, to Mr. T. Payne, in his life-time, 1769. A catalogue of his library was printed after his death at Lynn, in 1771, in octavo, in hopes of disposing of the whole at once. Mr. Worth, above mentioned, purchased the rest, with all his other collections, for six hundred pounds. The printed books he immediately sold to Booth and Berry of Norwich, who disposed of them by a catalogue, 1773. The pictures and lesser curiosities Mr. Worth sold by auction at Diss; part of his manuscripts in London, in April 1773, by Mr. Samuel Baker; and by a second sale there, in May 1774, manuscripts, scarce books, deeds, grants, pedigrees, drawings, prints, coins, and curiosities. 1

1 Nichols’s Bowyer.