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MARTEN

Berkshire. In the House of Commons he joined the popular party, spoke in favour of the proposed bill of attainder against Strafford, and in 1642 was a member of the committee of safety. Some of his language about the king was so frank that Charles demanded his arrest and his trial for high treason. When the Great Rebellion broke out Marten did not take the field, although he was appointed governor of Reading, but in parliament he was very active. On one occasion his zeal in the parliamentary cause led him to open a letter from the earl of Northumberland to his countess, an impertinence for which, says Clarendon, he was “cudgelled” by the earl; and in 1643, on account of some remark about extirpating the royal family, he was expelled from parliament and was imprisoned for a few days. In the following year, however, he was made governor of Aylesbury, and about this time took some small part in the war. Allowed to return to parliament in January 1646, Marten again advocated extreme views. He spoke of his desire to prepare the king for heaven; he attacked the Presbyterians, and, supporting the army against the parliament, he signed the agreement of August 1647. He was closely associated with John Lilburne and the Levellers, and was one of those who suspected the sincerity of Cromwell, whose murder he is said personally to have contemplated. However, he acted with Cromwell in bringing Charles I. to trial; he was one of the most prominent of the king’s judges and signed the death warrant. He was then energetic in establishing the republic and in destroying the remaining vestiges of the monarchical system. He was chosen a member of the council of state in 1649, and as compensation for his losses and reward for his services during the war, lands valued at £1000 a year were settled upon him. In parliament he spoke often and with effect, but he took no part in public life during the Protectorate, passing part of this time in prison, where he was placed on account of his debts. Having sat among the restored members of the Long Parliament in 1659, Marten surrendered himself to the authorities as a regicide in June 1660, and with some others he was excepted from the act of indemnity, but with a saving clause. He behaved courageously at his trial, which took place in October 1660, but he was found guilty of taking part in the king’s death. Through the action, or rather the inaction of the House of Lords, he was spared the death penalty, but he remained a captive, and was in prison at Chepstow Castle when he died on the 9th of September 1680. Although a leading Puritan, Marten was a man of loose morals. He wrote and published several pamphlets, and in 1662 there appeared Henry Marten’s Familiar Letters to his Lady of Delight, which contained letters to his mistress, Mary Ward.

Marten’s father, Sir Henry Marten (c. 1562–1641), was born in London and was educated at Winchester school and at New College, Oxford, becoming a fellow of the college in 1582. Having become a barrister, he secured a large practice and soon came to the front in public life. He was sent abroad on some royal business, was made chancellor of the diocese of London, was knighted, and in 1617 became a judge of the admiralty court. Later he was appointed a member of the court of high commission and dean of the arches. He became a member of parliament in 1625, and in 1628 represented the university of Oxford, taking part in the debates on the petition of right.

See J. Forster, Statesmen of the Commonwealth (1840); M. Noble, Lives of the English Regicides (1798); the article by C. H. Firth in Dict. Nat. Biog. (1893); and S. R. Gardiner, History of the Great Civil War and History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate.


MARTEN,[1] a name originally belonging to the pine-marten (Mustela martes), but now applied to all members of the same genus of carnivorous mammals (see Carnivora). Martens are limited to the northern hemisphere, ranging throughout the greater part of the northern temperate regions of both Old and New Worlds, and southwards in America to 35° N. lat., while in Asia one species is met with in Java.

The species appear to be similar in their habits. They live in woods and rocky places, and spend most of their time in trees, although descending to the ground in quest of prey. They climb with great facility, and are agile and graceful in their movements. Some are said occasionally to resort to berries and other fruit for food, but as a rule they are carnivorous, feeding chiefly on birds and their eggs, small mammals, as squirrels, hares, rabbits and moles, but chiefly mice of various kinds, and occasionally snakes, lizards and frogs. In proportion to their size they are among the most bloodthirsty of animals, though less so than the weasels. The female makes her nest of moss, dried leaves and grass in the hollow of a tree, but sometimes in a hole among rocks or ruined buildings, and produces several young at a birth, usually from four to six. Though wild and untameable to a great degree if captured when fully grown, if taken young they are docile, and have frequently been made pets, not having the strong unpleasant odour of the smaller Mustelidae. The pine-marten appears to have been partially domesticated by the Greeks and Romans, and used to keep houses clear from rats and mice. In the same way, according to Brian Hodgson, the yellow-bellied weasel (Putorius kathia) “is exceedingly prized by the Nepalese for its service in ridding houses of rats. It is easily tamed; and such is the dread of it common to all murine animals that not one will approach a house where it is domiciled.” It is, however, to the great value attached to the pelts of these animals that their importance to man is chiefly due. Though all yield fur of serviceable quality, the commercial value varies immensely, not only according to the species from which it is obtained, but according to individual variation, depending upon age, sex, season, and other circumstances. The skins from northern regions are more full and of a finer colour and gloss than those from more temperate climates, as are those of animals killed in winter compared to the same individuals in summer. Fashion has, moreover, set fictitious values upon slight shades of colour. Enormous numbers of animals are caught, chiefly in traps, to supply the demand of the fur trade, Siberia and North America being the principal localities from which they are obtained.

With the exception of the pekan (M. pennanti), the martens are much alike in size, general colouring and cranial and dental characters. The following description by Dr Elliott Coues of the American marten (M. americana) will apply almost equally well to most of the others. “It is almost impossible to describe the colour of the marten, except in general terms, without going into the details of the endless diversities occasioned by age, sex, season, or other incidents. The animal is ‘brown,’ of a shade from orange or tawny to quite blackish; the tail and feet are ordinarily the darkest, the head lightest, often quite whitish; the ears usually have a whitish rim, while on the throat there is usually a large tawny-yellowish or orange-brown patch, from the chin to the fore legs; sometimes entire, sometimes broken into a number of smaller, irregular blotches, sometimes wanting, sometimes prolonged on the whole under surface, when the animal is bicolor like a stoat in summer. The general ‘brown’ has a greyish cast, as far as the under fur is concerned, and is overlaid with rich lustrous blackish-brown in places where the long bristly hairs prevail. The claws are whitish; the naked nose pad and whiskers are black. The tail occasionally shows interspersed white hairs, or a white tip.”

The following are the best-known species:—

Mustela foina: the beech-marten, stone-marten or white-breasted marten.—Distinguished from the following by the greater breadth of the skull, and some minute but constant dental characters, by the dull greyish-brown colour of the fur of the upper parts and the pure white of the throat and breast. It inhabits the greater part of the continent of Europe, but is more southern than the next in its distribution, not being found in Sweden or Norway.

M. martes, the pine-marten (see figure).—Fur rich dark brown; under fur reddish-grey, with clear yellow tips; breast spot usually yellow, varying from bright orange to pale cream-colour or yellowish-white. Length of head and body 16 to 18 in., of tail (including


  1. By all old authors, as Ray, Pennant, Shaw and Fleming, the word is written “Martin,” but this form of spelling is now generally reserved for the bird (see Martin). The word, as applied to the animal here described, occurs in most Germanic and Romanic languages: German, marder; Dutch, marter; Swedish, mard; Danish, maar; English, marteron, martern, marten, martin and martlett; French, marte and martre; Italian, martora and martorella; Spanish and Portuguese, marta. Its earliest known use is in the form martes (Martial, Ep. x. 37), but it can scarcely be an old Latin word, as it is not found in Pliny or other classical writers, and Martial often introduced foreign words into his Latin. Its etymology has been connected with the German “martern,” to torment. A second Romanic name for the same animal is fuina, in French fouine. The term “Marten Cat” is also used.