Sir Henry Martin, 1st Baronet

Captain Sir Henry Martin, 1st Baronet (1733–1794) was a naval commander whose final appointment was Comptroller of the Navy 1790–1794.

Sir Henry Martin, Bt
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch Royal Navy

Martin was born at Shroton House, Dorset, 29 August 1733. On the death of his brother George in 1748 he became the eldest surviving son of the second marriage of Samuel Martin, plantation owner of Antigua to Sarah née Wyke, 20, widow of William Irish, plantation owner of Montserrat in the West Indies.


Martin was educated at the Portsmouth naval academy and privately by Dr Pemberton. He was appointed a Captain in the Royal Navy[1] and served in American and West Indian waters in the Seven Years' War. He married in 1761 and after the conclusion of the peace treaties in early 1763 they lived at Bishopstown near Cork where he had a leasehold farm. Considered by his father to be 'self-diffident' and in 'want of that assurance so necessary to push his way to preferment' he was given the goad of being let survive with some difficulty on limited resources from prize money and his father's marriage settlement. He returned to the Navy briefly in 1770 during a war scare and thereafter lived at Bath where his father joined them.[2]

In 1780 he was appointed resident naval commissioner at Portsmouth and acquitted himself competently for ten years. As commissioner he twice played host to the young Prince William, later William IV, the adroit handling of whose involvement with Martin's daughter bore him credit with King George III.

Harry Martin succeeded his half-brother, Samuel as a plantation owner in Antigua in 1788.[3] In March 1790 he was appointed Comptroller of the Navy and later that year was elected Member of Parliament for Southampton. He was created a baronet 28 July 1791,[3] Martin of Lockynge, Berkshire.


Henry Martin married, 26 November 1761, Eliza Anne Gillman, daughter of Harding Parker of Passage West county Cork and widow of St Leger Hayward Gillman of Gillmansville county Cork. They had four sons and four daughters.
Their youngest son, Admiral Sir Thomas Byam Martin[4] was also Comptroller of the Navy 1816–1831.

Sarah Catherine MartinEdit

His daughter, Sarah Catherine (c1768-1826), assembled the nursery rhyme Old Mother Hubbard. She suffered the attentions of a very young Prince William Henry and never married but while a visitor at the Devonshire house of her sister, Mrs Pollexfen Bastard, she assembled the rhyme about her sister's housekeeper for the entertainment of fellow guests though she may not be responsible for the first few lines. It was so successful she published it in 1805 as The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and her Dog.[5][6]


He died at his Town House, 51 Upper Harley Street, London on Friday, 1 August 1794 a few weeks before his 61st birthday.

"In the death of Sir Henry Martin, Baronet, late Comptroller of the Navy, the world has been deprived of one of its nobleft ornaments; for as fuch, muft ever be efteemed a character replete with every virtue that can dignify human nature. His lofs in public and private will be feverely felt. The uprightness of his actions in his public capacity is too well known to need the teftimony of an individual; and in private life, thofe who were fo happy as to know him beft, daily faw in him the kind indulgent hufband, the tender affectionate father, the firm and faithful friend. The benevolence of his mind fhone conspicuous in every action of his life. He lived adored by his family, beloved, efteemed, admired by his numerous acquaintance. He died fincerely lamented by all; and to fum up his character in one fhort line, "The feat of every virtue was his heart!""[7]


  1. ^ The royal navy: a history from the earliest times to the present
  2. ^ R. G. Thorne, The House of Commons, 1790-1820 History of Parliament Trust. Secker & Warburg, 1986
  3. ^ a b John Martin, ‘Martin, Samuel (1694/5–1776)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  4. ^ J. K. Laughton, ‘Martin, Sir Thomas Byam (1773–1854)’, rev. Andrew Lambert, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  5. ^ "Devon collection of children's books: catalogue. 7. Nursery rhymes No.129". 15 December 2006. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  6. ^ I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 317-22.
  7. ^ The Times, Thursday, 7 August 1794; pg. 3; Issue 94O807; col A

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Lord Barham
Comptroller of the Navy
Succeeded by
Sir Andrew Hamond
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Fleming
James Amyatt
Member of Parliament for Southampton
1790 – 1794
With: James Amyatt
Succeeded by
George Rose
James Amyatt
Baronetage of Great Britain
New creation Baronet
(of Lockynge)
1791 – 1794
Succeeded by
Henry William Martin