Mary Letitia Martin

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Mary Letitia Martin (1815–1850) was an Irish writer, known as the "Princess of Connemara".


Born into the chief landowning family of Connemara, the Martins of Ballynahinch Castle, a branch of the Martyn Tribe of Galway. Her parents were Thomas Barnwall Martin and Julia Kirwin; her grandfather was Richard Martin MP (1754–1834).[1]

Her first novel, St. Etienne, a tale of the Vendean War, was published in 1845.

Educated at home and by herself, she was fluent in Irish, English, French and a number of other languages. According to Maria Edgeworth, who had met her during her tour of Connemara in 1833, she was courted in 1834 by Count Adolphe de Werdinsky, whom she had met in London earlier that year; upon her refusal of marriage, he feigned a suicide attempt at Ballynahinch. In 1847, she married Colonel Arthur Gonne Bell, her cousin, who took the name of Martin on marriage, by Royal Licence. In the same year, her father died of famine fever contracted while visiting his tenants in the Clifden workhouse.


On the death of her father, she inherited a heavily encumbered estate of 200,000 acres (810 km2). In the following two years her remaining fortune was destroyed in the potato famine as she attempted to alleviate its effects on her tenants. Penniless, she emigrated with her husband to Belgium where she contributed to a number of periodicals, notably Encyclopaedie Des Gens Du Monde.[1]

USA and death[edit]

In 1850, her autobiographical novel, Julia Howard was published and in the same year she and her husband sailed for America, but she died ten days after arriving in New York following a premature confinement on board ship. The baby did not survive and her husband returned to England where he was killed in a railway accident in 1883.

Select bibliography[edit]

  • St. Etienne, a romance, 1845.
  • Julia Howard. A Romance, London, Richard Bentley, 1850.
  • Deeds, not Words; or, the Flemings of Dundalk. A domestic tale, London, G. Routledge, 1857.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lee 1893.


  •  Lee, Elizabeth (1893). "Martin, Mary Letitia". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 36. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  • Humanity Dick, Shevawn Lynam, 1975.
  • Galway Authors, Helen Maher, Roscommon, 1975.
  • Connemara after the Famine: Journal of a Survey of the Martin Estate by Thomas Colville Scott, 1853. Edited by Tim Robinson, Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1995.
  • The Tribes of Galway, by Adrian James Martyn, Galway, 2001.
  • The Eccentric Member for Galway, Peter Phillips, 2003.
  • Maria Edgeworth, Tour in Connemara and the Martins of Ballinahinch, edited by Harold Edgeworth Butler. London 1950. Chapter II: A Sequel (pp. 80–101).
  • The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review, vol. 35 (1851) p. 100
  • Peter Phillips, Humanity Dick: the eccentric member for Galway, Parapress Limited, 2003 ISBN 1-898594-76-7, 978-1-898594-76-5

External links[edit]