Thomas Byam Martin

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Sir Thomas Byam Martin
Portrait of Sir Thomas Byam Martin 1773-1854, Thomas Mackay, oil on canvas.jpg
Sir Thomas Byam Martin
Born (1773-07-25)25 July 1773
Ashtead House, Surrey
Died 25 October 1854(1854-10-25) (aged 81)
Portsmouth, Hampshire
Buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1786–1854
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held HMS Tisiphone
HMS Modeste
HMS Artois
HMS Santa Margarita
HMS Tamar
HMS Dictator
HMS Fisgard
HMS Impetueux
HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Implacable
Battles/wars French Revolutionary Wars
• Capture of Tamise
Capture of Immortalité
Napoleonic Wars
• Capture of Sewolod
Siege of Riga
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Sword
Other work MP for Plymouth

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thomas Byam Martin, GCB (25 July 1773 – 25 October 1854) was a Royal Navy officer. As captain of fifth-rate HMS Fisgard he took part in a duel with the French ship Immortalité and captured her at the Battle of Tory Island during the French Revolutionary Wars. Then while in command of the third-rate HMS Implacable in the Baltic Sea and attached to the Swedish Navy he took part in the capture the Russian ship Sewolod (Vsevolod) during the Napoleonic Wars.

During his many years of service as Controller of the Navy, Martin was credited with reducing the fleet from the enormous size deployed against the French to a much more streamlined service geared toward protecting merchant trade and the British Empire. He also focused heavily on employing highly trained dockyard staff capable of responding rapidly to any international emergency. Martin also sat in Parliament for 14 years and was an outspoken critic of government attempts to reduce the Navy budget which ultimately saw him dismissed in 1831 by his old friend King William IV.

Martin died in October 1854, at the early stages of the Crimean War, planning the Baltic Campaign and investigating the possibilities of using poison gas weapons.

Early life[edit]

Born the third son of Sir Henry Martin, 1st Baronet (later MP for Southampton) and his wife Eliza Anne Gillman (née Parker), Martin was educated at Freshford School, Southampton Grammar School and later the Royal Grammar School, Guildford.[1] During his education, he was also enrolled on the books of several Navy ships, a custom of the period to ensure that when he was old enough to go to sea he already would have the requisite "experience" to be considered for promotion early.[1]

Martin joined the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth in August 1785 and went to sea for the first time as a captain's servant aboard the sixth-rate HMS Pegasus, captained by Prince William Henry, on the North American Station in April 1786.[2] Promoted to midshipman, he transferred to fifth-rate HMS Andromeda in March 1788 and subsequently to the third-rate HMS Colossus, the fifth-rate HMS Southampton, the second-rate HMS Barfleur and then the first-rate HMS Royal George.[2]

Promoted to lieutenant on 22 October 1790, Martin served in the third-rate HMS Canada in the Channel Squadron and subsequently in the fifth-rate HMS Inconstant and the fifth-rate HMS Juno.[2] He was promoted to commander on 22 May 1793 and given command of the sixth-rate HMS Tisiphone in the Mediterranean Fleet.[2]

War service[edit]

The capture of the French ship Immortalité (left) by the fifth-rate HMS Fisgard commanded by Martin (right)

Martin was promoted to captain on 5 November 1793 and given command of the fifth-rate HMS Modeste, a frigate recently captured from the French, and saw action in operations off Toulon at an early stage of the French Revolutionary Wars.[2] He went on to command the fifth-rate HMS Artois and saw action at the siege of Bastia in April 1794.[2] Martin was then transferred to the Channel Fleet and stationed off Ireland in HMS Santa Margarita, in which he captured the French frigate Tamise at the Atlantic raid of June 1796: in the engagement, Tamise was badly damaged and suffered heavy casualties while HMS Santa Margarita's losses were only two killed and three wounded.[1]

In December 1796, Martin was sent to the West Indies as captain of the fifth-rate HMS Tamar in which he captured nine privateers.[2] He then moved to the command of the third-rate HMS Dictator before taking over the newly captured fifth-rate HMS Fisgard.[2] On 20 October 1798 HMS Fisgard took part in a duel with the French ship Immortalité and captured her at the Battle of Tory Island.[2] Martin continued to be employed off the French coast, capturing merchant vessels, privateers and warships.[2]

Martin was given command of the third-rate HMS Impetueux in May 1803, at the start of the Napoleonic Wars, and in her rescued many survivors from the wreck of HMS Venerable in November 1804.[1] He transferred to the command of the second rate HMS Prince of Wales in the Channel Squadron in 1807 and to the third-rate HMS Implacable in the Baltic Sea in 1808.[2] In HMS Implacable, Martin was attached to the Swedish Navy and took part in the capture the Russian ship Sewolod (Vsevolod) in August 1808, for which he was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Sword by the Swedish King Gustaf IV Adolf.[1]

The Russian ship Sewolod (Vsevolod) burning: Martin commanded the third-rate HMS Implacable during the attack

Senior command[edit]

A snuff box owned by Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thomas Byam Martin GCB

Promoted to rear-admiral on 1 August 1811,[3] Martin was despatched with a squadron to the Baltic Sea, with his flag in the third-rate HMS Aboukir, and assisted in the defence of Riga against the Grande Armée during the French invasion of Russia.[2] He became Second-in-Command at Plymouth Command, with his flag in the third-rate HMS Prince Frederick in 1812 and visited the Duke of Wellington's headquarters in Spain to co-ordinate army and navy supply requirements and operations in 1813.[1] He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 4 January 1815.[4]

Martin became Deputy Controller of the Navy in January 1815, advancing to full Controller of the Navy in February 1816, a position he maintained until November 1831.[5] In this role, Martin dominated naval strategy, reducing the fleet from the enormous size deployed against the French to a much more streamlined service geared toward protecting merchant trade and the British Empire.[1] He also focused heavily on employing highly trained dockyard staff capable of responding rapidly to any international emergency.[1] He was promoted to vice-admiral on 12 August 1819,[6] advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 3 March 1830[7] and promoted to full admiral on 22 July 1830.[8]

Martin's strong pro-Tory political views eventually caused his downfall, when he used his position in Parliament as member for Plymouth, for which he had been elected in July 1818,[9] to publicly criticise the new Whig government of Earl Grey in 1830.[1] Infuriated, Grey and Sir James Graham, who had become First Lord of the Admiralty that year, approached Martin's old friend King William IV for a solution, resulting in Martin's dismissal for insubordination in 1831.[10] In his later years he lived at No. 53 Wimpole Street in London.[11]

Martin was appointed Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom on 5 May 1847[12] and Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom on 10 August 1847[13] before being promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 30 October 1849.[14] As the Crimean War approached he returned to service at Portsmouth planning the Baltic Campaign and investigating the possibilities of using poison gas weapons.[1] He died in this service at the admiral superintendent's house at Portsmouth on 21 October 1854 and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.[15] There is a memorial to Martin in St Ann's Church in Portsmouth.[16]

Family[edit]

Martin married Catherine Fanshawe, daughter of Captain Robert Fanshawe; they had three daughters and three sons (Admiral Sir William Martin, 4th Baronet, Admiral Sir Henry Byam Martin and Lieutenant-colonel Robert Fanshawe Martin).[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Martin, Sir Thomas Byam". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, J. K. Laughton. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Heathcote, p. 167
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 16509. p. 1491. 30 July 1811. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 16972. p. 19. 4 January 1815. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  5. ^ Heathcote, p. 168
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 17505. p. 1446. 12 August 1819. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 18661. p. 461. 5 March 1830. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 18709. p. 1539. 23 July 1830. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 17376. p. 1217. 7 July 1818. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Thomas Byam Martin". History of Parliament. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  11. ^ Hamilton, Admiral Sir Richard Vesey (1901). "Letters of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thomas Byam Martin GCB". Navy Records Society. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  12. ^ The London Gazette: no. 20731. p. 1669. 7 May 1847. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 20764. p. 2950. 13 August 1847. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 21037. p. 3387. 13 November 1849. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  15. ^ "Sir Thomas Byam Martin". Find-a-grave. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "Sir Thomas Byam Martin". Memorials in Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 

Sources[edit]

  • Heathcote, Tony (2002). The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 – 1995. Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-835-6. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Thompson
Comptroller of the Navy
1816–1831
Succeeded by
Post Disbanded
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir William Congreve
Sir Charles Pole
Member of Parliament for Plymouth
1818–1832
With: Sir William Congreve (1818–1828)
Sir George Cockburn (1828–1832)
Succeeded by
John Collier
Thomas Beaumont Bewes
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Robert Stopford
Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom
1847
Succeeded by
Sir George Cockburn
Preceded by
Sir George Martin
Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom
1847–1854
Succeeded by
Sir William Hall Gage