Select Martin Miscellany

Here are some Martin stories and accounts over the years:

St. Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours was the 4th century Bishop of Tours, whose shrine in France became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims in the Middle Ages.  

The story most known about him ran as follows.   One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens, he met a scantily clad beggar. He impulsively cut his military cloak in half to share with the man. That night Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Martin, who is still but a catechumen, clothed me with this robe."  The part of the cloak kept by Martin became the famous relic that was preserved in the oratory of the Merovingian kings of the Franks at the Marmoutier Abbey near Tours.  

St. Martin's Feast or Martinmas was considered the first day of winter in the Christian calendar for practical purposes.  It occurred in the second week of November.  Alluding to the snows of that season, Germans would say: "St. Martin comes riding on a white horse."   It was said too that one could predict what sort of winter one might have by the conditions of St. Martin's Day.  The saying went: "If the geese at Martin’s Day stand on ice, they will walk in mud at Christmas."

Blessed Louis Martin and Saint Therese

Louis Martin became “blessed” because he was the father of Saint Therese of Lisieux, a French nun who died of TB in 1897 at the tender age of twenty four.  The impact of her autobiographical writings, The Story of a Soul published a year after her death, was so enormous that she has become, after Francis of Assisi, one of the most popular saints in the church.  She is known as “Petite Fleur.”  

Louis Martin had died before his daughter’s fame.  He himself came from an old Normandy family which has been traced back to an earlier Louis Martin, born in Normandy around 1650.

The Martins in Anstey Village

Anstey village was sandwiched between Leicester and Charnwood forests in the Middle Ages.  It was the home of the Martin family from 1341.  These Martins may have been related to John Martyn, a merchant who was mayor of Leicester and its MP around this time.  But the linkage has been disputed.

Two members of the family held the position of Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire and the local high school was named after them
.  The family leased Anstey Pastures within Leicester forest in 1585 and later acquired this 110 acre site.  Their home at Anstey Pastures was built in 1833 and they lived there until 1892 when they moved to a house in Bradgate known as the Brand.

The Martins of Melford Place

The Martin family of Melford Place in Suffolk was a great supporter of the Holy Trinity church in the village.  Laurence Martin who died in 1460 led the rebuilding of the church during his lifetime.  His monument is to be found on the south aisle of the church, along with the other family brasses.  

Roger Martin became churchwarden in the reign of Mary and was very active in re-establishing Catholic worship there.  Under Queen Elizabeth he was marked down as a recusant (one who refuses the Anglican rites) and was fined £200, an enormous sum in those days, and deprived of some of his income.  He was imprisoned more than once for sheltering Catholic priests and is said to have escaped pursuit on occasion by hiding in a hayrick.  He died in 1615 at the ripe old age of 89 and was buried (in spite of his known Catholicism) in his family's chapel at Holy Trinity church.  

Roger’s brother Laurence moved to London and his son, Sir Roger Martin, prospered there as a merchant and was Lord Mayor of London in 1567.

The Martins of Galway

Thomas Martyn, a descendant of the Anglo-Norman FitzMartin family, had come to Galway around the year 1365.  His descendants became merchants there, one of the twelve so-called “Tribes of Galway.”

Wylliam Martyn was in 1519 the first Mayor of the Martyn family which would ultimately produce nineteen Mayors and close to thirty Bailiffs and Sheriffs of Galway.  He was also responsible for the erection during his term of what is known today as the Spanish Arch.  This was an extension of the town wall from Martin's Tower to the bank of the Corrib as a measure to protect the town's quays.  

The Martin home from the early 1600’s was Dunguaire Castle, a tower house near Kinvarra on Galway Bay. Richard Oge Martin, a Catholic nationalist of the 1630’s and 1640’s, was resident there.  It remained with the family until 1922 when the last of this Martin line died.

Christian Martin and His Mennonite Family

Christian Martin is generally considered as the patriarch of the Mennonite Martin families in Pennsylvania.  He was born in the Swiss canton of Bern around the year 1669 and arrived in Philadelphia on the Pink Plaisance in 1732 at the age of 63 years.   He was accompanied by his wife Ells Marty and two of his children.  

There were other younger Martins who had come earlier - Christian’s son Christian in 1724, David and Jacob Martin on the Molly in 1727 and Hans Heinrich Martin and his sister on the Britannia in 1731.  All of them settled in the Weaverland valley in what became Earl township in Lancaster county.  There were more Martins than any other name in the township’s 1757 tax roll. 

The early years were harsh.  The community was quite isolated (few consequently learnt much English) and they had to endure a number of hot summers and cold winters and Indian attacks.

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