MARTIN, William (d.c.1609), of Exeter, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

s. of Richard Martin of Exeter by his 2nd w. and bro. of Nicholas. m. (1) Anne, da. of Richard Parker of Suss., at least 2s. inc. Richard; (2) 1576, Katherine, da. of William Buggin of Totnes, at least 1s.; in all, at least 5s. 2da.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Exeter 1571, receiver 1583, sheriff 1585, mayor 1590, 1600, part of 1602; gov. merchant adventurers 1578, 1599.


Martin was an Exeter merchant active in public work. He lent money for repairing the harbour, supplied powder to the city, and organized the city’s corn supply, in 1597 combining his visit to London for this purpose with attendance at Parliament. He is recorded as sitting on a committee, 10 Nov., concerned with weavers’ and spinners’ wages. He invested in Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s last voyage. In 1596 he was brought before the Privy Council on a charge of infringing a starch patent, and although, as far as is known, he took no part in the debates on monopolies in the 1597 Parliament, his son Richard spoke out strongly against them in the next.

Martin’s will was made 20 Aug. 1609, and proved the following 5 Jan. In a religious preamble containing some nice passages

like a tale that is told, and as a bird in the air, or a ship on the sea which suddenly parteth away and not seen where they went,

Martin called upon the ‘good and gracious presence of Almighty God’ to ‘bless all these my children that they may be profitable members in His Church and in His Commonwealth’. To each of his younger sons he left land and money, and his daughters received personal possessions and bequests for their children. Two grandsons, sons of his eldest son Thomas, received sums of money. The Exeter Chamber was left £20 to be lent out to tradesmen or artificers. His heir and executor Thomas received ‘all that I have, at home or abroad’, and ‘so’, Martin concluded, ‘the living God bless him and his’.

Vivian, Vis. Devon, 98, 553; Trans. Dev. Assoc. xlv. 416; lxi. 209; Roberts thesis; R. Izacke, Exeter, 134-43; W. Cotton, Eliz. Guild of Exeter, 42, 54; HMC Exeter, 30-1, 312; D’Ewes, 555; Voyages of Gilbert, ed. Quinn (Hak. Soc. lxxxiv), ii. 333; APC, xxv. 373-5; PCC 8 Wingfield, 10 Lyon.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler