Martineau family

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Coat of arms of Colonel Ernest Martineau, son of Sir Thomas Martineau
The Blue Plaque

The Martineau family is an intellectual, business and political dynasty associated first with Norwich and later also London and Birmingham, England. The family were prominent Unitarians; a room in London's Essex Hall, the headquarters building of the British Unitarians, was named after them. Martineau Place in the city's Central Business District was named in their honour.[1]

In Birmingham, several of its members have been Lord Mayor.[2] They worshipped at the Church of the Messiah,[3] where they mingled with other dynastic families of that denomination, such as the Kenricks and the Chamberlains, with much intermarriage occurring between them.[4] Several of the Martineaus are buried in Key Hill Cemetery, either in the family grave or separately.[5]

Huguenot beginnings[edit]

The Martineaus came from a Huguenot immigrant background, and were noted in the medical, intellectual and business fields.[6] Gaston Martineau, a surgeon in Dieppe, moved to Norwich after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes of 1685.[7] Initially Calvinist dissenters, they raised their children to be bilingual in French and English.[8]

Becoming established in Norwich[edit]

Philip Meadows Martineau, Esq., Lord of the Manor of Carrow (d.1829) by Sir William Beechey

Gaston's 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.[9]

The eldest of the five sons was Philip Meadows Martineau (1752–1829). A surgeon, Martineau was "one of the most distinguished lithotomists of his day".[10][11] Apprenticed to the surgeon William Donne, who was noted for skill in lithotomy, he studied medicine at several universities, then returned in 1777 to become Donne's partner, and carried on his speciality. Henry Southey was his student.[12] He had one daughter. In 1793 he purchased the Bracondale Woods on the outskirts of Norwich[13] and in 1811 the adjacent property of Carrow Abbey.[14] He built Bracondale Hall, described in 1847 as a "handsome mansion with pleasure grounds delightfully laid out".[15] From the ruins of Carrow Abbey, Martineau also constructed on his estate a "small gothic priory with windows of ancient stained glass".[16] By 1879, this estate, including the Manor of Carrow, had been sold following the death of Martineau's unmarried daughter Frances Anne.[17]

The second son, David Martineau, had four sons and six daughters and the third, Peter Finch Martineau, had four sons and two daughters. The fourth son, John Martineau of Stamford Hill, had 14 children, including John Martineau the engineer. The three brothers conducted business together in London.[18] The fifth son, Thomas, is mentioned below.[19]

Thomas Martineau and family[edit]

Thomas Martineau (1764–1826), a manufacturer of textiles, was the fifth son of David Martineau II.[9][20] He spent his life in Norwich, where he was a deacon of its Unitarian church, the Octagon Chapel, from 1797.[21] He married Elizabeth Rankin (8 October 1772 – 26 August 1848), who had her portrait painted a year before her death by a member of the Bonham Carter family.[22] The couple had eight children. Thomas died on 21 June 1826 and is buried at Rosary Cemetery,[23] the first non-denominational burial ground in the United Kingdom.

Thomas and Elizabeth Martineau's eldest child was a daughter, Elizabeth (1794–1850), who married Dr Thomas Greenhow, a reforming doctor in Newcastle, co-founder of the city's eye infirmary.[24][25] The Greenhows' daughter Frances married into the Lupton family of Leeds. Frances was an educationalist and worked to expand educational opportunities for girls.

Their eldest son was Thomas (1795–1824), a surgeon who also founded an eye infirmary, now part of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.[26]

Another son, Robert (1798–1870), became a magistrate, town councillor and then Mayor of Birmingham in 1846. He married Jane Smith (died 1874).[27] He hired John Barnsley to build a mansion in Edgbaston, with a large wing for his mother, who lived there till her death in 1848, and another for his own family. Barnsley had already built most of Birmingham's grand Victorian and Edwardian public buildings.[28][29]

Their best known child was their sixth, Harriet (1802–1876), the political author and a pioneer sociologist. She sometimes stayed with her widowed mother and her brother Robert, including during his mayoral tenure.[30] The three of them, and other members of the family, are buried together in the Martineau vault at the Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham.

Their seventh child, James (1805 – 1900), was a religious philosopher and a professor at Manchester New College. His daughter was the watercolourist Edith Martineau (1842–1909).

Sir Thomas Martineau and family[edit]

Politician Sir Thomas Martineau (1828–1893), the uncle of World War II Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
1887, Sir Thomas Martineau, Mayor of Birmingham (centre) – "Awaiting The Arrival Of Her Majesty Queen Victoria"

Sir Thomas Martineau (4 November 1828 – 28 July 1893) was the son of Robert and Jane Martineau,[31] born on the family estate on Bristol Road, now Martineau Gardens. He married Emily Kenrick (1838–1899), whose family was also part of Liberal Birmingham politics. Emily was the sister of Florence (1847–1875), whose marriage to Joseph Chamberlain bore a son, Neville, who became prime minister.[32] Emily was also the cousin of William Kenrick MP.

Joseph Chamberlain was then the Leader of the Liberal Unionists, and with his assistance Sir Thomas was instrumental in getting the Welsh Water Bill through Parliament and getting Birmingham made an assizes town.[33][34][35] Like his father, Sir Thomas was also Mayor of Birmingham, holding office from 1884 to 1887. In his final year he was knighted. He died on 28 July 1893 and is buried alongside his family at Key Hill Cemetery.[36] Colonel Ernest Martineau (1861-1952), son of Sir Thomas, was Lord Mayor of Birmingham 1912-14; his first cousin, Neville Chamberlain, replacing him in this role in 1915. [37][38][39]

Robert Francis (16 May 1831 – 15 December 1909), brother of Sir Thomas, was an alderman, 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 its successor institution, the University of Birmingham. He and his family were the third generation of Martineaus to live at Highfield Road, Kings Norton, Edgbaston.[40]

National and international interests[edit]

The intermarried Martineau and Lupton clan counted many aldermen and lord mayors, in both Birmingham and Leeds respectively, amongst their kin. Their Unitarian faith and Liberal (Unionist) political beliefs resulted in their combined commitment to many national concerns. For example, Sir Raymond Unwin's concept of the garden suburb greatly interested Aldermen Robert Francis Martineau and his cousin, Alderman Francis Martineau Lupton.[41][42]

International issues were also of great concern to the family; Robert Francis Martineau welcomed the 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.[43]

Lord Mayors of Birmingham[edit]

Members included five generations, father to son, of Mayors or Lord Mayors of Birmingham:[44][45]

  • 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[46]
  • Denis Martineau (1920–1999), Lord Mayor of Birmingham, 1986–87

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

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge[edit]

Research revealed in 2014 that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is a descendant of the Martineau family; her great grandmother, Olive Middleton and her brother, Lionel Martineau Lupton were the children of alderman Francis Martineau Lupton (d.1921), who had attended political conferences in Birmingham with his Martineau alderman cousins.[47][48][49][50]


There is a society devoted to the Martineau family of Norwich. "Specifically, the Society aims to highlight the principles of freedom of conscience advocated in the nineteenth century by Harriet Martineau and her brother, Dr. James Martineau."[51]

The National Portrait Gallery holds nearly 20 portraits of James and Harriet Martineau. The siblings' great-nephew, Francis Martineau Lupton, was the great–great–grandfather of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the gallery's patron.[52]

There was a school named after Sir Wilfred Martineau, now subsumed within the International School, Birmingham.


  1. ^ Armstrong, Eric (2009). Central Birmingham Through Time. Amberley. ISBN 9781445627328. Retrieved 14 May 2020. Martineau Street has vanished to become Martineau Place, the family of that name having been among the 'movers and shakers' of an earlier Birmingham.
  2. ^ "Blue Plaque Places". Blue Plaque Places. Retrieved 24 July 2015. Robert Martineau (1798–1870) Mayor of Birmingham 1846–1847 (Sir) Thomas Martineau (1828–1893) Mayor of Birmingham 1884–1887 Ernest Martineau (1861–1952) Lord Mayor of Birmingham 1912–1914 (Sir) Wilfrid Martineau (1889–1964) Lord Mayor of Birmingham 1940–1941 Denis Martineau (1920–1999) Lord Mayor of Birmingham 1986–1987 Five successive generations, father to son, of the same family.
  3. ^ Briggs, Asa (1965). Victorian Cities. University of California Press. p. 202. ISBN 9780520079229. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  4. ^ Feiling, Keith (1947). "Background" (pdf). The Life of Neville Chamberlain. London: Macmillan. p. 3.
  5. ^ Manning, E. H. (1915). Official Guide to the Birmingham General Cemetery. Birmingham: Hudson & Son. Birmingham Public Libraries (Reference, Local Studies, B.Coll 45.5)
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Drummond, James; Upton, C. B. (2003). Life and Letters of James Martineau 1902. Kessinger Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7661-7242-5.
  8. ^ Hoecker-Drysdale, Susan (2003). "Harriet Martineau". In Ritzer, George (ed.). The Blackwell Companion to Major Classical Social Theorists. John Wiley & Sons. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-470-99988-2.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Shaw, A.Batty (July 1970). "Norwich School of Lithotomy" (PDF). Medical History. 14 (3): 221–259. doi:10.1017/s0025727300015556. PMC 1034057. PMID 4921977.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Jewson, C. B. (1975). The Jacobin City: A Portrait of Norwich 1788–1802. Blackie & Son. pp. 126–8. ISBN 0-216-89874-9.
  13. ^ Taylor, William (1831). A Memoir of the late Philip Meadows Martineau, Surgeon. Bacon and Kinnebrook, Mercury Office. p. 9. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  14. ^ Rye, Walter (1889). "Carrow Abbey". Norwich: Agas H. Goose, RAMPANT HORSE STREET. Retrieved 15 July 2015 – via scan of [microform] version in In 1811 the Abbey and grounds were purchased by Philip M. Martineau, Esq., and remained in the Martineau family until 1878, when the building, lands, and manor of Carrow were purchased by Messrs. J. & J. Colman, the present owners.
  15. ^ White of Sheffield, William (1836). History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk, and the City and County of the City of Norwich. Fargate Sheffield: W. White. p. 156. Retrieved 7 October 2014 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ Norfolk Chronicle (1847). A Guide to the Eastern Counties Railway, Cambridge Line. Norwich: Stevenson and Matchett. pp. 76 and 77. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  17. ^ "PRELIMINARY ANNOUNCEMENT. NORWICH. The BRACONDALE LODGE and ABBEY ESTATE, comprising the 'MANOR OF CARROW' - With the Mansion known as BRACONDALE LODGE..." Norfolk Chronicle. Norfolk, England. 9 June 1877. Retrieved 5 October 2017. PRELIMINARY ANNOUNCEMENT. NORWICH. The BRACONDALE LODGE and ABBEY ESTATE, comprising the 'MANOR OF CARROW' - With the Mansion known as BRACONDALE LODGE... late in the occupation of Miss F. A. Martineau, deceased, with its surrounding well-timbered Parks, Ornamental and well laid out Pleasure Gardens...
  18. ^ Ronalds, B.F. (February 2018). "Peter Finch Martineau and his Son". The Martineau Society Newsletter. 41: 10–19.
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ Martineau, Harriet. Peterson, Linda H. (ed.). Autobiography.
  21. ^ Jewson, C. B. (1975). The Jacobin City: A Portrait of Norwich 1788–1802. Blackie & Son. pp. 141–2. ISBN 0-216-89874-9.
  22. ^ 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."
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ "Newcastle Infirmary Time Line 1801–1849". Newcastle University. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 1832: Thomas Greenhow appointed honorary surgeon to the Infirmary. He had already been surgeon to the lying-in hospital, and in 1822 had established the Eye Infirmary with John Fife.
  25. ^ Bettany, G. T. (2004). "Fife, Sir John (1795–1871), surgeon and politician". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 July 2013. He [Fife] specialized in diseases of the eye, founding in 1822, with T. M. Greenhow, a charity which became the Newcastle Eye Infirmary.
  26. ^ Goose, Nigel; Modem, Leanne (2010). A History of Doughty's Hospital, Norwich, 1687–2009. Hertfordshire: University of Hertfortshire Press. p. 56. ISBN 9781905313938.
  27. ^ Martineau, H. (21 December 2006). Autobiography - Harriet Martineau. Boadview 2006. ISBN 9781460403143. Retrieved 27 April 2019. Robert Martineau...and his wife Jane (nee Smith) died 1874...
  28. ^ "The Edgbaston (Boutique) Hotel". Birmingham: The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel. Archived from the original on 4 May 2014. 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
  29. ^ ""Builders of most of Victorian and Edwardian Birmingham" – John Barnsley and Sons" (PDF). John Barnsley and Sons. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  30. ^ Martineau, Harriet (2007). Linda H. Peterson (ed.). Autobiograph. Broadview Press. pp. 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". ISBN 9781460403143. Retrieved 21 June 2013 – via Google Books.
  31. ^ Martineau, H. (21 December 2006). Autobiography - Harriet Martineau. Boadview 2006. ISBN 9781460403143. Retrieved 27 April 2019. Robert Martineau...and his wife Jane (nee Smith) died 1874...had six children...Thomas born 1828...
  32. ^ Dilks, David (2002). Neville Chamberlain, Volume 1. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521894012. Retrieved 16 May 2015. Index listing – page 369 – Kenrick and Chamberlain families
  33. ^ "BIRMINGHAM CORPORATION WATER BILL (by Order.) – HC Deb 08 March 1892 vol 2 cc265-307". UK Parliament. Retrieved 5 March 2016. (4.53.)...if we had only then known that the words which have been read had been used by Sir Thomas Martineau, and that there was an intention on the part of Birmingham to seize upon this district to the exclusion...
  34. ^ "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
  35. ^ "History of the Corporation of Birmingham". Birmingham: Cornish Brothers. 1909. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  36. ^ "The World". Waikato Times. 11 June 1887. 'Sir Thomas' – is a solicitor and a nephew of Harriet Martineau
  37. ^ London Gazette. Tho. Newcomb over against Baynards Castle in Thamse-street. 1920. p. 679. Retrieved 10 October 2019. ...Col. Ernest Martineau, C.M.G., V.D. 7th Bn., Royal Warwick.....
  38. ^ Walker-Smith, D. (1940). Neville Chamberlain, Man of Peace. R. Hale. Retrieved 10 October 2019. ...his [first] cousin, Colonel Ernest Martineau, who had been Lord Mayor since 1912. He, however, left the city to proceed to France in command of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Territorial) and in November 1915 Mr. Chamberlain....
  39. ^ Debrett's Baronetage, Knightage, and Companionage. Dean and Son, limited. 1931. p. 1887. Retrieved 10 October 2019. MARTINEAU, Col. Ernest, C.M.G., son of the late Sir Thomas Martineau, of Birmingham; b. 1861; educated at....and at Trin. Hall, Camb. (B.A. 1882, M.A. 1884); admitted a Solicitor 1886; sometime a member of the legal firm of Ryland, Martineau ...
  40. ^ Hutton, Catherine (2013) [1891]. "Reminiscences of a Gentlewoman of the Last Century: Letters of Catherine Hutton. London: Forgotten Books". pp. 24 Forgotten Books. London: Forgotten Books. pp. 248–9. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  41. ^ Saint, Andrew (January 2008) [2004]. "Unwin, Sir Raymond (1863–1940)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
  42. ^ Unwin, Sir Raymond (2004) [1901]. Nothing Gained by Overcrowding. Routledge. ISBN 9781135018542. Guests included – Leeds Alderman, (Francis Martineau) Lupton and Birmingham Alderman, Robert Francis Martineau at the "Garden Suburb" Conference at Birmingham, 20 September 1901
  43. ^ 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
  44. ^ "City Council, List of Birmingham Mayors". City of Birmingham. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 17 March 2014. et seq
  45. ^ The Blue Plaque itself
  46. ^ "No. 38165". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 January 1948. p. 70. Ref. Sir Wilfred Martineau
  47. ^ 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.
  48. ^ Walker, Tim (4 June 2014). "Kate's family tree". UK Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 March 2016. Prince William’s wife has a family tree that just about includes him. “Kate’s great-great- grandfather was Francis Martineau Lupton, a politician himself, and his first cousin was the Birmingham lord mayor Sir Thomas Martineau, a friend of Queen Victoria. Sir Thomas’s nephew was Neville Chamberlain,” Reed explains
  49. ^ Unwin, Sir Raymond (2004) [1901]. Nothing Gained by Overcrowding. Routledge. ISBN 9781135018542. 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
  50. ^ Gutteridge, N. (2 July 2016). "Kate's hero relative died at the Somme after signing up to fight alongside Diana's grandad". UK Daily Express. Retrieved 1 November 2009. Kate's hero relative [Lieutenant] Lionel Martineau Lupton died at the Somme
  51. ^ "homepage". The Martineau Society. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  52. ^ Furness, Hannah (11 February 2014). "Duchess of Cambridge visits National Portrait Gallery, home to little-known Middleton family paintings". The Daily Telegraph. p. 3. Retrieved 14 March 2014.