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Parents and Siblings


The extended family – Parents and Siblings.

John Martin’s parents, James Martin and Elizabeth Jennings, were married by licence in Bruton, Somerset on the 18th May 1776. It appears to have been a private affair, none of the witnesses were family members, indeed one of them was the witness at five out of the eight marriages recorded on that page of the register. When I began my research I had considerable difficulty finding out much more about them. The problem simply stated is that there are numerous Martins living in and around Bruton throughout the 18th century and differentiating them is difficult. Jennings is an equally common name in Somerset and Dorset and worse still their forenames, apart from being very common, tended to be re-used within the family.

My difficulties eased when Ian Martin, the great- great- great- great grandson of Thomas Martin, one of John Martin’s brothers, provided me with further details and I am indebted to him for this information and also for filling in details of George Martin’s life.

The Jennings family came from Oxfordshire and their family history is shown below.

The most likely candidate for John’s father is a James Martin who was buried in 1820. His age is given as 63 yr’s which would put his birth as 1757 but no baptismal record can be found for him. It is possible that James was a land agent or even a surveyor; intriguingly adverts for a farm sale at Upton Noble in 1780 and another at Dimmer in 1786 refer prospective purchasers to “Mr Martin at Bruton” for further details.

We cannot say much more about his parents. James, died in 1820 still living in Bruton; he was 63, occupation unknown. His mother appears to have died at Alhampton near Ditcheat [1], Somerset and was buried on the 14th April 1831 aged 79. Despite there being diaries for 1810, 1821 and 1827 there is not a single mention of either of them; they appear not to have visited him or him them. There is only one lonely entry in which they both appear and, not unsurprisingly given the circumstances it is rather tetchy.

22nd June 1832

Pd Mr J Jennings for Letters of Administration to my Mothers Effects but it should have been to my Fathers Effects it was done wrong & I am this money out of my own Pocket – £10 10s 0d”.

This entry is 12 years after his fathers death which seems a long time to gain control of his effects. It does however support the view that his mother died the previous year and that his parents had held their property separately. His mother came from the wealthy family of Jennings and although women’s property [2]automatically became the property of her husband after marriage, there may well have been a formal marriage settlement preserving her personal property or perhaps she owned ‘real’ property in the shape of land.

After Elizabeth and James’s wedding children soon followed.



Mary Martin 1776 – 1845.

James and Elizabeth had at least seven children, tracking them demonstrates the problems of genealogy at this date. On 4th January 1845 he noted the death of a sister,

4th January 1845

Duke of Cleveland

Working on the Railroad plans &c

My Sister Mrs Perratt died

She was buried on the 11th and Martin paid for the coffin which suggests she died in a degree of penury without any family other than John.

Attending the Funeral of my Sister Mrs Perratt Pd Mrs Jesty what she paid for Coffin &c for Mrs Perratt £3 11s 5d

Charlotte Pullman who appears here and was paid 7s appears to have had the job of laying out the dead. She appears elsewhere in the diaries in the same role.

Mrs Perratt is his sister Mary. She was baptised on 20th December 1776 at Melbury Osmond [3] which raises two intriguing questions. Firstly why Melbury Osmond ? It would be quite natural for her mother to want to have her first child at her parents home  but we have no evidence that they had ever lived in Melbury Osmond? Secondly given her parents marriage date it is possible that Elizabeth was already pregnant when they married. Such occurrences were not uncommon [In depth; Bastardy] and so long as the parents were married before birth no opprobrium appears to have attached to the event. We know little more about her except that on the 3rd April 1809 she married George Perrott [sic] at St Osmund’s in Evershot. Oddly neither of them appear in the 1841 census for Evershot so it is not certain that she was living there after her marriage. There is no other mention of her in the diary until the entry on the 4th January when she had just died. On the 11th January 1845 the same woman, now Mary Perratt of course, was buried in Evershot her age being given as 68. In the absence of a baptismal record it is difficult to be sure when she was born but if this was her true age then she would have been born in 1777.

John 1780 -1863.

Martha 1780 -1861.

We cannot be certain when John and his twin sister Martha were born. It was probably in 1780 but sometimes considerable delay took place before arranging a child’s baptism and the baptismal year cannot be assumed to be the birth year. They were baptised on 12th May 1780 in Bruton and rather curiously the baptismal record reads “Martha & Jn Son and Dau of James Martin”. It is possible that Martin may not have known his exact date of birth, he never celebrates or mentions his own birthday in the diaries. Even though he knew the birthdays of his own children, and records the event in two of the diaries, thereafter they are not mentioned or celebrated again. The only birthdays he celebrates come from the 1861 diary of his grandson and granddaughter.

17th June 1861

Went to Weymouth – Arthur and Family there- Little Man’s Birthday [Ten years old]

15th October 1861

[An extraordinary hot day]

At Home dined at Arthurs Ellas Seven Years Birthday

John’s story will gradually unfold. Of his sister Martha we know a little. She was living at Westbury, Wiltshire in 1803 where, on 1st August 1803, she married Maurice Perry. Surprisingly although the register was signed by Maurice, Martha simply left her mark suggesting she was illiterate. This is a suprise since all the other siblings appear to have been literate. Maurice died in 1840 but the 1841 census shows Martha living as an inn keeper in Stalbridge with her daughter Mary. The 1839 Tithe apportionment lists Maurice as being the occupier of the Swan Inn in Stalbridge and it is assumed that Marth remained the landlady after he died. Martha was to survive until 10th June 1861 when she died at Yarlington in Somerset. She may have been in some financial difficulties as before she died Martin,

17th February 1861

Gave my Sister Martha Perry £5

Why or how he gave this to her is a mystery since there is no record of him visiting her or vice versa.

Thomas Martin 1785-1850.

I am grateful to Ian Martin for providing this information about his great-great-great-great grandfather Thomas. He like his sister Mary was baptised at Melbury Osmond on 24th February 1785. He appears to have served in the Royal Navy at one time as he was in receipt of a Greenwich Pension. By 1820 Thomas was living in Bruton where on the 9th May 1820 he married Elizabeth Tanner ; his brother and sister Robert and Elizabeth Martin, served as witnesses. Thomas and his wife Elizabeth next appear in the 1841 census when they are still living in Bruton and his occupation is given as a beer seller.

Thomas died in 1850 and is mentioned in the diaries only once,

17th November 1845

Gave Edwin to give to my brother Thomas £10 0s 0d

The 1851 census shows Elizabeth and her youngest son George living in the household of Edwin Jennings Martin [see below]. They are recorded as being servants in the household but this seems unlikely. Elizabeth’s occupation is that of nurse and George as a painter.

Robert 1786-1841.

Elizabeth 1786-1843.

To have one set of twins is unusual, to have two is even rarer, to have them all survive is rarer still. In 1786 Elizabeth had another set of twins, Robert and sister, Elizabeth. They were baptised on the 28th of August 1786.

Robert stayed in Bruton, married one Amy Tucker in 1812, had four children and died in 1841 aged 55. Nothing more about him or is family is known. He is not mentioned in the diaries.

His twin sister, Elizabeth, married one John Earle from Ditcheat in 1824. Earle died a mere nine years later in 1833 at the age of 37 yr’s leaving her with two son’s James and Frederick. In 1841 they are to be found living at Ditcheat and she, like her older sister, Martha is listed as a Publican. There is only one pub in Ditcheat and that is, and was, the Manor House Inn. Elizabeth lived in Ditcheat until her death in 1843, a year before John Martin arrived to complete the inclosure of the parish. A connection between John and Elizabeth remained; on the 4th January 1861 Martin noted in his diary,

4th January 1861

[Frederick Earl came here]

5th January 1861

[Frederick Earl left]

[I Gave him some clothing of Edwins]

This was Elizabeth’s son Frederick who was an agricultural labourer. Martin gave him a pound as well as some clothing. There is no mention of Elizabeth’s other son James.

George 1794 -1852.

George makes a few appearances in the diaries. George’s birth cannot be traced, but surviving [census] records indicate it to be between 1795 and 1800. He was born in Bruton and his mother must have had a suprise as it was some 14 years after Robert and Elizabeth. He paid a prolonged visit to Evershot in 1821 and came for Christmas in 1845,

31st August 1821

Allotting Chilfrome my Brother George came to Evershot.

15th September 1821

My brother George left Evershot

24th December 1845

Finding out Valuation of Bishopstone Prebendal land for Mr Webb – Went to Tea at Mrs Jestys

My Brother Geo[rge] here

10th May 1852

At Home on Various matters

Edwin & his Uncle Geo came

15th May 1852

Do Edwin & his Uncle of Oxford left

George’s subsequent death in Oxford was recorded by Martin in his laconic style in 1852,

3rd November 1852

Putting the Office to rights and other matters in the Office. My Brother George died at Oxford

Without the diaries we would have had no indication that George was linked to John. The censuses of 1841 and 1851 record that George was a college servant and the Oxford University Alumni has an entry that he was “servant to St Johns College: privilegiatus 17 Sept 1832”. He was married on 27th December 1825 at Shepton Mallet to Mary Ann Grist and unusually  the register lists him as ‘George Martin of the City of Oxford, Bachelor’. Together they had a number of children, including his own set of twins and after his death one of his daughters came to visit John at Evershot . It was not a happy visit as a notice in the Oxford Gazette records her death on “May 24th [1856] at Evershot Dorset after a few days illness, Mary Ann, second daughter of the late Mr Geo Martin, 31 St Johns street in this city.” She was 27 yr’s old.

George’s wife, Mary Ann, his daughter Amelia and son-in-law William Pillinger are to be found in Bristol in 1861 where she is listed as a ‘Landed Proprietor.’

These then were John Martin’s siblings but of their life together as children in Bruton we know nothing. In fact it will not be until 1807, when he was gazetted as Ensign in the Dorsetshire Yeomanry that we have any further record of him. Of his early life then we know nothing, not even whether he went to school in Bruton.

Finally there is another connection that needs exploration. John Martin on many of his maps referred to himself as ‘John Martin of Evershot’. He was wise to do so for there was another ‘John Martin’, also a land surveyor, living at Shepton Montague who would sign himself in a similar way. Shepton Montague, is only a short distance away from Bruton and Ditcheat. The two were related although it is not quite clear how, as shown from the following series of facts. In May 1861,

24th May 1861

“Mrs Martin died at Weymouth aged 86

At home -Marked my sheep

(Willham cottage now my own)”

The only woman named Martin who died at Weymouth in May 1861 was a lady called Ann Martin. In 1825 Ann[e] Rogers married John Martin [of Shepton Montague]. This John Martin was to die in 1842 at 52 yr’s but he was survived by his wife and son, Frederick [4], who, at the time, lived in Wellham [5], a part of Shepton Montague. Now a number of coincidences occur.

John Martin [SM] had been Steward to the Earl of Ilchester at Redlynch [6], relinquishing the post a year before his death in 1841. He was succeeded as Steward by his son, who was only 21 yr’s when he took up the reins from his father sadly he too was to die in December 1844 and so his mother inherited the house at Wellham. In January 1845 Edwin, the son of John Martin [E], moved to Redlynch and took up the post vacated by Frederick. At the time of his death John Martin [SM] was working upon the inclosure at Ditcheat and in due course John Martin[E] took over. In time Ann Martin must moved to Weymouth [7] and there are several entries of various members of John Martin [E] family visiting the town suggesting an on going connection with the town. In time Edwin was to be married and live at Shepton Montague. When Ann died John Martin [E] inherited the house. There are simply too many coincidences to believe the two men were not related but precisely how is not known, as a result he is not included in the tree below.

Next         The move to Dorset.

Previous   Places mentioned in the text

In Depth  Bastardy

1 All of the places mentioned so far are within a few miles of Bruton and each other.

2 Personal property became that of the husband but not “real” property ie any land they owned.

3 My thanks to Ian Martin for this information.

4 Yes another Frederick.

5 I disregard the difference in spelling which is common enough when considering names in the past.

6 Another of the seats of the Earl of Ilchester.

7 Where incidentally another John Martin was Mayor in the 1820’s.