Martyn, Thomas (d.1597?) (DNB00)


MARTYN or MARTIN, THOMAS, D.C.L. (d. 1597?), civilian and controversialist, a younger son of John Martyn, gentleman, was born at Cerne, Dorset, and educated first at Winchester School and then at New College, Oxford. He became a fellow of that college 7 March 1537–8, and after two years of probation was in 1539 admitted perpetual fellow. He is said to have acted as Lord of Misrule during some Christmas festivities at the college. Subsequently he travelled with pupils in France, and took the degree of doctor of civil law at Bourges. In 1553 he resigned his fellowship at New College. He was admitted a member of the College of Advocates at Doctors' Commons 15 Jan. 1554–5 (Coote, English Civilians, p. 39). About that period he was official of the archdeaconry of Berks, chancellor to Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, with whom he was a great favourite, and a master in chancery. His treatise against the marriage of priests and monks, finished in 1553 with the assistance, it is said, of Nicholas Udall, was so highly esteemed by Queen Mary, to whom it was dedicated, that she granted him a commission to make Frenchmen and Dutchmen free denizens, and this he executed with such success in the spring of 1554 that he ‘made himself a gentleman’ (Kennett MS. 48, f. 43). He was incorporated D.C.L. at Oxford 29 July 1555, when he was sent thither as one of the queen's commissioners.

Martyn took a conspicuous part in the proceedings against Bishop Hooper, Dr. Rowland Taylor, John Taylor, alias Cardmaker, John Careless, Archbishop Cranmer, and other protestants; but it appears that he interfered to procure the discharge of Robert Horneby, the groom of the chamber to Princess Elizabeth, who had been committed to the Marshalsea for refusing to hear mass. In May and June 1555 he was at Calais, apparently in attendance upon Bishop Gardiner, the lord chancellor (cf. his letters in Tytler, Edward VI and Mary, ii. 477 sq.). In July 1556 he was one of the masters of requests, and he was employed with Sir Roger Cholmeley to examine Silvester Taverner on a charge of embezzling the queen's plate. They were empowered to put him to such tortures as by their discretion should be thought convenient. In September 1556 it was intended that he should succeed Dr. Wotton as ambassador at the French court; but the design does not seem to have taken effect. In the following month he was despatched by the privy council to King Philip at Ghent, touching the contemplated marriage of the Duke of Savoy to the Princess Elizabeth, and also with respect to the trade between England and the States of the Low Countries. The king sent him to the States to treat with them on the latter subject. In June 1557 he was one of the council of the north, and in the following month a commissioner with the Earl of Westmorland, Bishop Tunstal, and Robert Hyndmer, LL.D., for the settlement of certain differences between England and Scotland, which had been occasioned by the inroads of the Grahams and others. On 13 May 1558 he and others were authorised to bring to the torture, if they should so think good, one French, a prisoner in the Tower.

By his zeal in the catholic cause he rendered himself highly obnoxious to the protestant party, and few notices of him occur in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In 1587 he was incorporated doctor of the civil law at Cambridge (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 77). Commissions to him and other civilians to hear admiralty cases were issued in 1591 and 1592, and it is therefore probable that he had conformed, at least outwardly, to the new form of religion. He probably survived till 1597.

Bale, with characteristic coarseness, describes Martyn as ‘callida vulpes,’ ‘impudens bestia,’ and charges him with abominable vices (De Scriptoribus, i. 737; cf. Bale, Declaration of Edmonde Bonner's Articles, 1561, ff. 42 b–46 b).

His works are: 1. ‘A Traictise declaryng and plainly prouyng that the pretensed marriage of Priestes, and professed persones, is no mariage, but altogether unlawful, and in all ages, and al countreies of Christendome, bothe forbidden, and also punyshed. Herewith is comprised in the later chapitres a full confutation of Doctour Poynettes boke entitled a defense for the marriage of Priestes,’ London, May 1554, 4to, dedicated to Queen Mary. Poynet, whose book had appeared in 1549, published, apparently at Strasburg, a rejoinder to Martyn entitled ‘An Apologie’ in 1556, 8vo. ‘A Defence of priestes mariages,’ another answer to Martyn's treatise, London [1562?], 4to, with a preface and additions by Archbishop Parker, has been assigned to both Poynet and Sir Richard Morysin (cf. Brit. Mus. Cat.). 2. ‘Orations to Archbishop Cranmer, and Disputation and Conferences with him on matters of Religion,’ 1555 and 1556. Printed in Foxe's ‘Acts and Monuments.’ 3. ‘Certayne especiall notes for Fishe, Conyes, Pigeons, Artochokes, Strawberries, Muske, Millons, Pompons, Roses, Cheryes, and other fruite trees,’ 1578, manuscript in the Lansdowne collection in the British Museum, No. 101, ff. 43–9. 4. ‘Historica Descriptio complectens vitam ac res gestas beatissimi viri Gulielmi Wicami quondam Vintoniensis Episcopi et Angliæ Cancellarii et fundatoris duorum collegiorum Oxoniæ et Vintoniæ,’ London, 1597, 4to, and in a very limited edition, privately printed by Dr. Nicholas, warden of New College, Oxford, 1690, 4to. Martyn took the substance of his work from the ‘Life of Wycliffe’ written by Thomas Chandler.

[Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), pp. 726, 830, 1587, 1588, 1734; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 167; Foster's Alumni Oxon., early series, iii. 980; Foxe's Acts and Monuments (Cattley); Hackman's Cat. of Tanner MSS. pp. 387, 1020; Harl. MS. 374, f. 23; Jardine on Torture, pp. 20, 75, 76; Nichols's Narratives of the Reformation (Camd. Soc.), pp. 180, 187; Parker Society's Publications (general index); Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, p. 763; Calendars of State Papers; Strype's Works (general index); Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 515; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 500, Fasti, i. 148.]

T. C.