Emma Martin (socialist)

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Emma Martin
Emma Bullock

Bristol, England
Died8 October 1851
OccupationAuthor, activist
Spouse(s)Isaac Luther Martin

Emma Martin (née Bullock; 1811/12 – 8 October 1851) was a British author, socialist and free thinker. She is known for her public speaking on behalf of socialism and Owenism.


Emma Bullock was born in Bristol and after the death of her father she moved to Clifton with her mother and stepfather. At seventeen she joined the radical Particular Baptists. She married Isaac Luther Martin and together they had three daughters. Martin was dissatisfied with her lot and she began public speaking on women's rights. She heard Alexander Campbell (1796-1870) in 1839 and he caused her to support the socialist Owenite points of view.[1] At the time Campbell was known as Robert Owen's "principal Scottish disciple".[2] However, Martin rejected the socialist view that religion was not important. Martin challenged this idea and used her own beliefs to challenge the secular approach. However, it was Martin who was eventually persuaded.[3]


Martin abandoned her husband and background and took up the Owenite cause. In 1840 she was in discussions with James Pierrepont Greaves who was trying to make Owenism less secular.[1] By 1841 she was addressing the Owenite annual conference where her views on women's rights were received. She spoke of the freedom that Socialism might bring women by giving them financial independence.[3]

Martin was touring the country and speaking publicly to thousands. She had to leave her daughters with friends and this must have put a strain on her financially.[3] Martin was stoned by opponents and she could find crowds that were either attracted or there to object to her atheism. There was a realistic likelihood that she could be imprisoned for blasphemy and she formed an organisation with George Jacob Holyoake to mitigate this risk.[3] However, she was taken to court, but unlike Holyoake, she was never convicted.[3]


In 1845 she withdrew from public speaking and became a midwife.[4]

Martin died in Finchley Common in 1851 of tuberculosis. She died an atheist. Holyoake, who had spoken at her funeral, published "The Last Days of Emma Martin: Advocate of Freethought" the following year.[5]


  • Religion Superseded, 1844
  • Baptism, A pagan Rite, 1844
  • Tracts for the People, 1844
  • The Bible No Revelation (1845?)
  • Punishment of Death?
  • A Miniature Treatise of some of the Most Common Female Complaints, 1848


  1. ^ a b Emma Martin, Oxford Journals, Retrieved 10 September 2015
  2. ^ Noel Thompson, "Campbell, Alexander (1796–1870)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 10 Sept 2015 (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c d e Barbara Taylor, "Martin, Emma (1811/12–1851)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 10 Sept 2015 (subscription required)
  4. ^ Janes, Dominic (2011) Emma Martin and the manhandled womb in early Victorian England. In: Mangham, A. and Depledge, Greta (eds.) The Female Body in Medicine and Literature. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, pp. 107–118. ISBN 9781846314728.
  5. ^ Liddle, Terry (March 2011). "The Proceedings of the South Place Ethical Society" (PDF). Ethical Record. 116 (3). Retrieved 10 September 2015.