Martin, Sire of Tour (four miles from Bayeux, not Tours, as Dugdale gives it), came over with William of Normandy in 1066; and conquered the territory of Kemeys in Pembrokeshire. It was erected into a Palatine Barony, which he governed as Lord Marcher, having his castle at Newport, where its ruins still exist. He was a great benefactor to religious houses, and began the foundation of a Benedictine Abbey at St. Dogmael's, annexing it as a cell to the Monastery of Tyrone in France. The endowment was given by his son Robert Fitz Martin, whose charter is witnessed by Henry I., who afterwards granted a further confirmation charter. In the next generation, William Fitz Martin married a Welsh princess, the daughter of Rhys-ap-Griffith, sovereign of South Wales, "from whom he received great injury, for by force of arms he took from him his strong castle of Llanhever, in Kemeys-Land, contrary to his oath and solemn promise of peace and friendship." William's grandson acquired the honour of Barnstaple by his marriage with Maud, the daughter of Guy de Brian and Eva his wife, heiress of Henry de Tracy, Baron of Barnstaple. She brought him numerous estates in Devonshire, where he already had great possessions; for "shortly after Domesday, Robert Fitz Martin, enjoyed the honour of Dertington, and other lands, once William de Falaise's."—Pole's Devon. They had three sons; Nicholas, who left only a daughter; Colinetus; and Robert. Colinetus, who thus became the heir, was the father of Sir William Martin, engaged in the Scottish wars, and "constantly summoned to every parliament as Baron of Kemeys from 17 Ed. I. to 16 Ed. II., in which year he died." His son followed him to the grave in the ensuing year, dying s. p.; and two sister-heiresses, Eleanor de Columbers and Joan de Audley, divided his lands. "But the name of Martin was still kept up by Robert, the younger son, from whom are lineally descended the Martins of Seaborough, and those of Athelhampton in Dorsetshire."—Collinson's Somerset. They had a considerable estate in Somersetshire, where Compton-Martin retains their name; and in Devonshire "Comb-Martin and another Martin will inform you of their antiquity."

Of the Martins of Seaborough I can find no account. Those of Athelhampton had their seat at Admiston Hall, and ended with Nicholas Martin, who died on the road to London, whither he had been persuaded to go—much against his will—to re-settle his estates. He left two daughters and co-heiresses, and lies buried in Piddlestown Church, with this inscription:

"Here lies Nicholas, the first, and Martin, the last,
Good-night, Nicholas."

But it was not good-night, Martin: for a younger son of this house, who had settled at Long Melford in Suffolk as far back as the early part of the fifteenth century, is yet represented in the male line. One of his descendants, Roger Martin, who in Queen Mary's time lived to be nearly one hundred, was so remarkable for his charity that, "when he declined with age, and was not able to go far from home, he had a whistle to his cane by which he called the poor to him." In this changed world of the nineteenth century—the age of universal begging—it is hard to recognize the necessity of such a mode of summons. A subsequent Roger suffered grievously for his loyalty during the Civil War, and presented a petition for redress to both Houses of Parliament, setting forth that "he and his ancestors had quietly lived amongst their neighbours for nigh upon three hundred years." He died before the Restoration; but his son received a baronetcy in 1667, which is now extinct. Another, however, still survives, granted in 1791 to Henry Martin, belonging to a junior branch of the family.

-- Cleveland

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