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Martin, James (1815-1886) (DNB00)


MARTIN, Sir JAMES (1815–1886), chief justice of New South Wales, son of John Martin of Fermoy, Ireland, by Mary, daughter of David Hennessey of Ballynona, was born at Middleton, co. Cork, 6 Nov. 1815, or, according to various other accounts, on 14 May 1820. He emigrated with his parents to New South Wales in 1821, was educated at Sydney College, and admitted a solicitor of the supreme court on 10 May 1845. In 1848 he began to write for the 'Atlas' newspaper, and in 1851 he became a contributor to the 'Empire.' As an elected member for Cork and Westmoreland he first sat in the Legislative Council in 1848. He advocated the establishment of a royal mint in Sydney as early as 1851, but the "measure was not carried till four years later. In the first parliament under responsible government in 1856, he was again elected for Cork and Westmoreland. Mr. (afterwards Sir) Charles Cowper [q. v.], on coming into power, made Martin attorney-general on 26 Aug. 1856. He was shortly after called to the bar, and speedily obtained a position in his profession. On the return of Cowper as premier, 7 Sept. 1857, Martin was again associated with him as attorney-general, and was made a queen's counsel. He passed the Assessment Act, which increased the squatters' contributions to the revenue. In the third legislative assembly elected by manhood suffrage, 30 Aug. 1859, he sat for East Sydney, and afterwards represented successively Orange, the Lachlan, again East Sydney, and lastly East Macquarie. He became premier for the first time on 16 Oct. 1863, when he proposed a protective tariff, which was adopted in the assembly, but the Legislative Council threw out his measure. The Cowper ministry which followed was a failure, and Martin became premier for the second time on 22 Jan. 1866. He remained in office two years, and brought in the Public Schools Act and the Municipalities Act. During this period Prince Alfred, now the Duke of Edinburgh, visited Australia, and in commemoration of this event Martin was created a knight by patent on 4 May 1869.

He was again prime minister from 15 Dec. 1870 till 13 May 1872. On 19 Nov. 1873 he retired from parliament, and was appointed chief justice of the supreme court of New South Wales, a position which he held till his death at Clarens, near Sydney, on 4 Nov. 1886. He married in 1853 Isabella, eldest daughter of William Long of Sydney, merchant.

Martin's only published work was 'The Australian Sketch-book,' Sydney, 1838.

[Barton's Poets and Prose Writers of New South Wales, 1866, pp. 64-82; Mennell's Dict. of Australian Biography, 1892, pp. 314-15; Law Times, 4 Dec. 1886, p. 88; Times, 8 Nov. 1886, pp. 6-7; Sydney Morning Herald, 5 and 16 Nov. 1886.]

G. C. B.