Martineau family

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The Blue Plaque

The Martineau Family are a political dynasty from Birmingham, England. Many members of the family have been appointed to the office of Lord Mayor of Birmingham.[1] The family were also prominent Unitarians; to the extent that a room in London's Essex Hall, the headquarters building of the British Unitarians, was named after them. The family had owned a number of properties in and around Birmingham, including Kings Norton, from the 17th century.[2]Other Unitarian dynastic families in Birmingham were the Kenricks and the Chamberlains, with much intermarriage occurring between them.[3]

Research revealed in 2014 that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is a descendant of the Martineau family; her great great grandfather was the politician Alderman Francis Martineau Lupton (d.1921), who had attended political conferences in Birmingham with his Martineau alderman cousins. Francis Martineau's family had worshipped at Birmingham's Unitarian Church.[4][5][6]

Mayors of Birmingham[edit]

Members included five generations, father to son, of Mayors or Lord Mayors of Birmingham:[7][8]

  • Robert Martineau (1798–1870), Mayor of Birmingham, 1846–47
  • Sir Thomas Martineau (1828–1893), Mayor of Birmingham, 1884–87
  • Ernest Martineau (1861–1952), Lord Mayor of Birmingham, 1912–14
  • Sir Wilfrid Martineau (1889–1964), Lord Mayor of Birmingham, 1940–41[9]
  • Denis Martineau (1920–1999), Lord Mayor of Birmingham, 1986–87

A blue plaque, erected in 2008 by the Birmingham Civic Society, in Birmingham Council House commemorates all five.

Martineau family of Norwich[edit]

The Norwich Martineaus came from a Huguenot immigrant background, and were noted in the medical, intellectual and business fields.[10] They were initially Calvinist dissenters, who brought their children up as bilingual in French and English.[11] The founder, Gaston Martineau, was a surgeon in Dieppe, and moved to Norwich after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes of 1685.[12] His grandson David Martineau II (1726–1768) was the third generation of surgeons, and had five sons who made up the male line of Martineaus. By the fourth generation the family was divided into Anglicans and Unitarians. [13]

The eldest of the five sons was Philip Meadows Martineau (1752–1829) of Bracondale Hall and Woods. A surgeon, Martineau was "one of the most distinguished lithotomists of his day".[14][15] Apprenticed to the surgeon William Donne, who was noted for skill in lithotomy, he became a medical student at a number of universities, then returned in 1777 to become Donne's partner, and carried on his speciality. Henry Southey was his student.[16] He had one daughter. The second son David Martineau (four sons, six daughter) was a dyer who went into the sugar business. The third, Peter Finch Martineau (four sons, two daughter) was a dyer in Norwich. The fourth son, John Martineau of Stamford Hill, had 14 children, including John Martineau the engineer. The fifth son Thomas is mentioned below.[17]

Family of Thomas Martineau[edit]

Several of the Martineaus are buried in Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham, either in the family grave or a separate one.[18]

Thomas Martineau (1764–1826), a manufacturer of textiles, was the fifth son of David Martineau II.[13][19] He was a Unitarian, a deacon of the Octagon Chapel from 1797.[20] He married Elizabeth Rankin (8 October 1772 – 26 August 1848). The couple had eight children and lived in Norwich, where many of their children were educated. Thomas died on 21 June 1826 and is buried at Rosary Cemetery, Norwich.[21] Thomas and Elizabeth are the paternal great great great great great grandparents of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.[22][23] It was reported in February 2015 that Elizabeth Martineau had sat for her portrait in 1847 at her home, Edgbaston Mansion. The portrait was painted by family friend, Hilary Bonham Carter, the great great aunt of Helena Bonham Carter.[24]

Thomas and Elizabeth Martineau's eldest son was Thomas (1795–1824), a surgeon and the founder of the Norfolk and Norwich Eye Infirmary.[25]

Their eldest child was a daughter, Elizabeth (1794–1850), who married Dr Thomas Greenhow, a reforming doctor in Newcastle. Subsequently, the child of Elizabeth and Dr Greenhow was Frances who married into the Unitarian Lupton family of Leeds. Frances was an educationalist and worked to expand educational opportunities for girls. Frances is the great great great grandmother of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Thomas Martineau and Elizabeth Rankin's son, Robert, (1798–1870) became a magistrate, town councillor and then Mayor of Birmingham in 1846. Throughout 1846–47, Robert's sister, political journalist Harriet, occasionally resided with Robert and their mother, Elizabeth, in Birmingham – the years in which Robert was mayor. At that time, Robert's mayoral status had resulted in his hiring of Birmingham builder John Barnsley to build himself a mansion in Edgbaston, which consisted of a large wing for his mother and another for his own family. Barnsley had also built most of Birmingham's grand Victorian and Edwardian public buildings.[26][27] Robert, his mother Elizabeth (who had died at the Edgbaston mansion on 26 August 1848), and his sister Harriet, along with other members of the Martineau family, are buried together in the Martineau vault at the Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham. Robert's wife was Sarah Smith (d 1874).[28][29]

Sir Thomas Martineau (4 November 1828 – 28 July 1893), was the son of Robert and Sarah Martineau. Like his father, Thomas was also Mayor of Birmingham: in 1884-7. Thomas was born on the Martineau family estate on Bristol Road, Birmingham, (now Martineau Gardens) on 4 November 1828. On 11 June 1887, the press reported that Queen Victoria came to Birmingham to lay the foundation stone of the Victoria Law Courts and that, (having played host to the monarch), "Mr Martineau, a nephew of Harriet Martineau, will rise "Sir Thomas".....". Only days later, Martineau was indeed called to Windsor to be formally knighted by the queen. It was his final year in office. Sir Thomas was instrumental in getting the Welsh Water Bill through Parliament and getting Birmingham made an Assizes town.[30][31] He died on 28 July 1893 and is buried alongside his family at Key Hill Cemetery.[32] Sir Thomas was the uncle of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain – who had also been Lord Mayor of Birmingham, in 1915. [33] Sir Thomas' wife was Emily Kenrick (1838–1899) whose sister, Florence Kenrick (1847–1875) was Chamberlain's mother.[34]

The brother of Sir Thomas – and also the son of mayor Robert – was Robert Francis (16 May 1831 – 15 December 1909). Robert Francis was an alderman in Birmingham, secretary of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, chairman of the Technical School committee, trustee to Mason Science College, and then a member of the council of the University of Birmingham when it evolved from Mason College. He and his family were the third generation of Martineaus to live at Highfield Road, Kings Norton, Edgbaston.[35]

The sixth child of Thomas and Elizabeth Martineau was Harriet (12 June 1802 – 27 June 1876); the political author and a pioneer sociologist. Their seventh child, James (21 April 1805 – 11 January 1900), was a religious philosopher and a professor at Manchester New College.

The Martineau-Lupton clan counted many aldermen and lord mayors, in both Leeds and Birmingham, amongst their kin. Their Unitarian faith and Liberal (Unionist) political beliefs resulted in their combined commitment to many national concerns; Sir Raymond Unwin's concept of the "Garden Suburb" greatly interested aldermen Robert Francis Martineau (City of Birmingham) and his cousin, Francis Martineau Lupton (City of Leeds).[36][37] International issues were also of great concern to the family; Robert Francis Martineau welcomed the American abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, to his home when the American visited Birmingham on 7 July 1877 and two days later, Martineau's relative, Joseph Lupton, had Garrison as a guest at his Leeds house from 9–15 July.[38]


  1. ^ Blue Paque Places, Editors,. "Blue Plaque Places". Retrieved 24 July 2015. The Martineau Family were a political dynasty from Birmingham, England. Several members were particularly successful in civic affairs. They were also prominent Unitarians; to the extent that a room in London's Essex Hall, the headquarters building of the British Unitarians, was named after them. 
  2. ^ "Smythe Etches and Co, later Lee Crowder and Co, solicitors of Birmingham; Martineau family". UK National Archives. Retrieved 9 February 2015. Martineau family: deeds, plans and papers concerning property in Birmingham, Hemel Hempsted Herts, Kings Norton, Leamington Spa Warks, Sparkhill, Sutton Coldfield, Ward End, Wheathamstead Herts and Yardley, 1680-early 20th cents 
  3. ^ Feiling, Keith (1947). "Background". The Life of Neville Chamberlain (pdf). London: Macmillan. p. 3. 
  4. ^ Lockley, Mike (21 February 2015). "Pictures of Kate Middleton's Brummie relatives to go on display at Birmingham Museum". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  5. ^ London, Bianca (4 June 2014). "Historian discovers the Duchess of Cambridge is descended from Birmingham's most notable families". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved 8 November 2014. Kate's great great grandfather was Francis Martineau Lupton, a politician himself, and his first cousin was Birmingham Mayor Sir Thomas Martineau, a friend of Queen Victoria. Sir Thomas's nephew was Neville Chamberlain. 
  6. ^ Unwin, Sir Raymond (2004) [1901]. Nothing Gained by Overcrowding. Routledge.  Guests included – Leeds Alderman, (Francis Martineau) Lupton and Birmingham Alderman, Robert Francis Martineau (Francis' Birmingham cousin) at the "Garden Suburb" Conference at Birmingham, 20 September 1901
  7. ^ "City Council, List of Birmingham Mayors". City of Birmingham. Retrieved 17 March 2014. [dead link] et seq
  8. ^ The Blue Plaque itself
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38165. p. 70. 2 January 1948. Retrieved 16 February 2013. Ref. Sir Wilfred Martineau
  10. ^ Logan, Deborah Anna, ed. (2012). Harriet Martineau and the Irish Question: Condition of Post-famine Ireland. Lexington Books. p. 128 note 104. ISBN 978-1-61146-096-4. 
  11. ^ Hoecker-Drysdale, Susan (2003). "Harriet Martineau". In Ritzer, George. The Blackwell Companion to Major Classical Social Theorists. John Wiley & Sons. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-470-99988-2. 
  12. ^ Drummond, James; Upton, C. B. (2003). Life and Letters of James Martineau 1902. Kessinger Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7661-7242-5. 
  13. ^ a b Agnew, David C. A. (1871). Protestant Exiles from France in the Reign of Louis XIV, or, The Huguenot Refugees and Their Descendants in Great Britain and Ireland 2 (2nd ed.). London: Reeves & Turner. p. 239. 
  14. ^ Shaw, A.Batty (July 1970). "Norwich School of Lithotomy" (PDF). Medical History 14 (3): 221–259. doi:10.1017/s0025727300015556. PMC 1034057. PMID 4921977. 
  15. ^ Martineau, Harriet; Wedgewood, Fanny (1983). Arbuckle, Elisabeth Sanders, ed. Harriet Martineau's Letters to Fanny Wedgewood. Stanford University Press. p. 92 note 3. ISBN 978-0-8047-1146-3. 
  16. ^ Jewson, C. B. (1975). The Jacobin City: A Portrait of Norwich 1788–1802. Blackie & Son. pp. 126–8. ISBN 0 216 89874 9. 
  17. ^ Evelyn-White, Charles Harold (1886). The East Anglian; or, Notes and queries on subjects connected with the counties of Suffolk, Cambridge, Essex and Norfolk. New Series 1. pp. 53–5 – via 
  18. ^ Manning, E. H. (1915). Official Guide to the Birmingham General Cemetery. Birmingham: Hudson & Son.  Birmingham Public Libraries (Reference, Local Studies, B.Coll 45.5)
  19. ^ Martineau, Harriet. Peterson, Linda H., ed. Autobiography. 
  20. ^ Jewson, C. B. (1975). The Jacobin City: A Portrait of Norwich 1788–1802. Blackie & Son. pp. 141–2. ISBN 0 216 89874 9. 
  21. ^ Hull, Alfred (2013) [1906]. James Martineau: The Story of His Life (Transcription). London: The Sunday School Association. p. 36. Retrieved 7 October 2014 – via Forgotten Books. 
  22. ^ Wharton, Jane (4 June 2014). "Kate is a Brummie and related to a former Prime Minister". Daily Express (London). p. 3. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  23. ^ Research Group (Birmingham UK), Jewellery Quarter. "Key Hill Cemetery and the Royal House of Windsor" (PDF). JQRG. J.Q.R.G – Editor/Chair: Rev. Doug Wilks -. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  24. ^ Lockley, Mike (21 February 2015). "LOOK Pictures of Kate Middleton's Brummie relatives to go on display at museum". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 23 February 2015. “Kate and Helena’s families were very close, very wealthy and belonged to the same Unitarian Church. Both families would later produce Prime Ministers. Helena Bonham Carter’s great grandfather was Prime Minister Lord Asquith. Kate’s blood cousin, Birmingham Mayor Sir Thomas Martineau, was an uncle (by marriage) of World War II Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who had been Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1915." 
  25. ^ Goose, Nigel; Modem, Leanne (2010). A History of Doughty's Hospital, Norwich, 1687–2009. Hertfordshire: University of Hertfortshire Press. p. 56. ISBN 9781905313938. 
  26. ^ Birmingham, The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel. "The Edgbaston (Boutique) Hotel". The Edgbaston. UK. S. and D. Insall – Owners. Retrieved 28 June 2014. The Edgbaston was originally built in 1846–47 by builder John Barnsley. For the first sixty years of its existence it was the home of two successive generations of the Martineau family 
  27. ^ Barnsley and Sons, The Victorian and Edwardian Buildings of. ""Builders of most of Victorian and Edwardian Birmingham" – John Barnsley and Sons." (PDF). John Barnsley and Sons. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  28. ^ Martineau, Harriet. "Autobiograph Harriet Martineau – Edited by Linda H. Peterson – Footnotes Number 2 and 6; Also quote – Harriet's maid, Martha Andrews, recorded in her diary that "on September 24, 1847, we (she and Harriet) travelled together to Birmingham to stay with Mrs Elizabeth Martineau and Harriet's brother Robert..... who met both she and Harriet at the station"". Autobiography Harriet Martineau. Broadview Press. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  29. ^ Kate Middleton, Ancestry of. "Kate Middleton's great great great great great grandmother Elizabeth Martineau – nee Rankin. Died 1848 at Highfield Rd, Edgbaston, Kings Norton – Birmingham". WARGs. WARGs. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  30. ^ "Martineau Family Grave at Key Hill Cemetery". Birmingham History Forum. Retrieved 19 February 2013. [unreliable source?]
  31. ^ "Tory was a fifth generation civic head – Obituary – Mr Denis Martineau". Birmingham Post. 3 July 1999.  – a "first" (5 generations – father to son, in civic/mayoral positions) according to the Guinness Book of Records 
  32. ^ "The World". Waikato Times. 11 June 1887. 'Sir Thomas' – is a solicitor and a nephew of Harriet Martineau 
  33. ^ Wharton, Jane (4 June 2014). "Kate's a Brummie and is related to a former Prime Minister". Daily Express (UK). p. 3. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  34. ^ Dilks, David. "Neville Chamberlain, Volume 1". Cambridge University Press, 2002. Retrieved 16 May 2015. Index listing – page 369 – Kenrick and Chamberlain families 
  35. ^ Hutton, Catherine (2013) [1891]. "Reminiscences of a Gentlewoman of the Last Century: Letters of Catherine Hutton. London: Forgotten Books". pp. 24 Forgotten Books. Originally pub. 1891 – Reprint London – Forgotten Books, 2013. pp. 248–9. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  36. ^ Saint, Andrew (January 2008) [2004]. "Unwin, Sir Raymond (1863–1940)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 
  37. ^ Unwin, Sir Raymond (2004) [1901]. Nothing Gained by Overcrowding. Routledge.  Guests included – Leeds Alderman, (Francis Martineau) Lupton and Birmingham Alderman, Robert Francis Martineau at the "Garden Suburb" Conference at Birmingham, 20 September 1901
  38. ^ Garrison, Francis Jackson. "William Lloyd Garrison, 1805–1879; the story of his life told by his children: volume 4". Perseus Digital Library. Retrieved 19 February 2013.  (Life of ) William Lloyd Garrison footnote 60–67 referencing: Birmingham Alderman Robert Francis Martineau; Joseph Lupton Esq. of Leeds; Harriet Martineau