MARTIN, Joseph (c.1649-1729), of London and Wanstead, Essex

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Feb. - Nov. 1701
1710 - 1715

Family and Education

b. c.1649.  m. 3s. 3da.  Kntd. 22 July 1712.

Offices Held

Freeman, Levant Co. 1672; dir. New E. I. Co. 1698–1709; manager, united trade to E. Indies 1707; dir. S. Sea Co. 1711–15; consul in Moscow 1702–5; member, Russia Co. 1705, cttee. 1711, 1716, asst. 1713, ?1718; common councilman, London.1

Commissary for commercial negotiations with France 1713–15.


Martin was primarily a Baltic merchant, importing hemp and other naval supplies, and was one of the principal contractors to the navy throughout the period. He also traded in the Levant and elsewhere, and was a leading light in the New East India Company, subscribing £17,500 of the original £2 million loan, the fourth largest single subscription. His favourite saying was that ‘it was better to be a rich mechanic, though of the lowest order, than a poor merchant’. It was presumably as part of the New Company’s campaign that he put up at Ipswich in the 1701 election in February, this being where his fellow Turkey merchants, the Barnardistons, had some influence (see BARNARDISTON, Sir Samuel, 1st Bt.*; and BARNARDISTON, Samuel*). He himself assisted another prominent New Company director, Samuel Shepheard I*, at Bramber. Martin left no trace on the records of the 1701 Parliament.2

Martin committed a bad blunder in 1705, when he agreed with the Czar to send with the tobacco he was exporting to Russia the skilled men and ‘engines’ necessary to process it, to the consternation of the Virginia and Maryland merchants, who complained to the Queen that the Russians would thereby acquire the technology to process their own domestically grown tobacco. Anne declared her ‘utmost dislike’ of the fact that Martin had entered upon a contract with a foreign power without her knowledge and permission, and especially in a matter ‘so injurious to other of her subjects’. Martin’s men were brought home and his machinery destroyed. Martin was returned for Hastings in 1710 and classed as ‘doubtful’ in the ‘Hanover list’. Along with Samuel Shepheard I, he proved to be one of the merchants and financiers who supported Robert Harley’s* administration. Martin was a candidate in the East India Company elections in April 1711, and in the Commons was listed among the ‘Tory patriots’ who opposed the continuation of the war and among the ‘worthy patriots’ who exposed the mismanagements of the previous ministry. A substantial investor in the South Sea Company, he was nominated a director in its first charter in September 1711. Also in 1711 his eldest son, Joseph, was appointed a lottery commissioner at his recommendation. The following year Martin was knighted, and Joseph was made secretary to the commission of accounts, which included Martin’s son-in-law Francis Annesley*. Martin was one of the group of merchants who provided ships for the expedition to Canada in 1712. On 18 June 1713 he spoke and voted for the French commerce bill, and was named in the following December as a commissary to complete the commercial negotiations with France, his son serving as secretary. He and another of the commissaries survived a move by the Whig opposition in April 1714 to have them excluded from the House under the terms of the Regency Act of 1706. Martin, who was classed as a Tory in the Worsley list, was defeated at Hastings in 1715 and did not stand for Parliament again, dying on 16 Aug. 1729, aged 80.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Granger, Biog. Hist. ed. Noble, ii. 214; PCC 252 Abbott; HMC Portland, iv. 192; Boyer, Pol. State, i–ii. 526; iv. 123; vii. 51; ix. 141–2; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1714–19, p. 94; E.I. Co. Chs. 222; info. from Prof. H. Horwitz; J. Carswell, S. Sea Bubble, 282; Beaven, Aldermen, i. 303.
  • 2. EHR, lxxi. 230; Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 398; vii. 457; viii. 1543, 1879, 1913; ix. 544–5; J. Ehrman, Navy in War of Wm. III, 60–61, 65, 223; B. Pool, Navy Bd. Contracts, 67; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1557–1696, p. 504; CJ, xiii. 400; xvi. 129; HMC Townshend, 89–90; HMC Lords, n.s. ii. 33–34; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 369; E.I. Co. Chs. 193; Granger, 214.
  • 3. HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 277; HMC Portland, 191–3; Boyer, i–ii. 263; v. 588; Post Boy, 19–21 June 1711; Add. 70155, ff. 36, 40, 44; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvi. 255, 479; xxviii. 147; Granger, 214.