Admiral of the Blue Squadron of His Majesty's Fleet
c1696 - 1756
A naval family
William Martin is claimed (DNB) to have been the son of Commodore George Martin and possibly related to Admiral Sir John Norris*. His nephew also William was a naval captain, son of his brother, Bennet (c1696-1741) and father of Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Martin (1764-1847). He had another naval brother, Captain Roger Martin (1698-1780).
Martin married Mary Crosse from Netteswell in Essex in 1726 but there were no children of the marriage. He may himself have been born at a family property in Stepney. In his will dated 21 May 1756 he left his Stepney property to his "brother Captain Roger Martin and his heirs for ever".
A man of learning and style
Martin was apparently a cultivated and civilised man; according to Charnock (Biog Nav iv, 69) "he not only possessed a considerable share of classical learning, but spoke the French, Spanish, Italian and German languages with the greatest ease and fluency. In his person he was remarkably handsome and particularly attentive to his dress, manners and deportment. When in command he lived in the greatest splendour, maintaining his rank in the highest style."
Sale of his collection of orange trees and other exotics
Martin retired in 1747 and in 1749 he acquired the Copt Hall property. When he died his widow Mary remained at the house but the following year sold off all his greenhouse plants. As noted by Horace Walpole in a letter to Horace Mann of 4 August 1757:
"...yesterday..we had a new kind of auction - it was of the orange trees and plants of your old acquaintance Admiral Martin - it was one of the warm days of this jubilee summer, which appears only once in fifty years - the plants were disposed in little clumps about the lawn; the company walked to bid from one to t'other, and the auctioneer knocked down the lots on the orange tubs..."
[n18: to be sold by auction by Mr Ford this day, the 3rd instant, the late Admiral Martin's entire collection of greenhouse plants, consisting of large orange and lemon trees in tubs and pots, aloes, myrtles, oleanders, geraniums and other choice exotics. The Whole...in the gardens belonging to his late dwelling house at Twickenham (Daily Advertiser, 3 August)]
Martin was not buried in Twickenham.
*Otherwise his parents were Tutchin (Abram) Martin (1669-c1705) of Stepney who married Sarah Bennet Gage in 1691, but this has yet to be verified.
Anthony Beckles Willson, Copt Hall - Twickenham, an unpublished research note in the Local Studies Library, Richmond, 1998
Dictionary of National Biography
William Martin's Will, PCC 277 Glasier, 10