John MARTIN (Miner) 1843 - 1903


My Great Grandfather John Martin was born on 10th February 1843, the son of WILLIAM MARTIN a Copper Miner and ELIZABETH (nee Hosking). He was born in a small miners cottage at Treswithian, known locally as Jethen or Cornish Daws. Treswithian is a large village, about half a mile west of Cambourne in Cornwall.

At the time of the 1851 Census JOHN, his mother and father and five elder siblings were all living at the same small house in Treswithian.

JOHN now a copper miner was living at Trelowarren Street in Camborne at the time of the 1861 census.
In the 1860’s the Cornish mining parishes were hit by mass emigration, and in the eighteen months ending December 1867, over 11,000 miners lost their jobs in the mining districts of Cornwall and West Devon. John found work in the Ironstone Industry of the North East of England, whilst many others proud of their skills emigrated to North and South America, South Africa or Australia. These 'Cousin Jacks' sent money to their families who remained at home. Others took their families with them, so that there are now Cornish communities in most of the metal mining centres of the world. There is much truth in the saying that wherever there is a mine there is a Cornishman at the bottom of it.


JOHN married at The Register Office, Guisborough on 13th June 1868.
The following details are taken from the marriage certificate.

JOHN MARTIN Age 25, Ironstone Miner of Marske. Father WILLIAM MARTIN, Ironstone Miner (deceased). & ELIZABETH DOW Age 23 of Marske. Father THOMAS DOW, Ironstone Miner.
In the presence of SAMUEL DOW & ROBERT BULMER

This certificate contains some incongruities. Firstly both parents are shown as Ironstone Miners. There is no evidence that either mined Ironstone although both were certainly miners. Secondly ELIZABETH’S maiden name is shown as DOW. Neither ELIZABETH nor SAMUEL DOW (presumably her brother born circa 1847) signed the register both leaving their marks. My speculation is their Cornish dialect was misinterpreted by Charles King the Registrar.

JOHN became a father on 5th October 1868 when ELIZABETH gave birth to a daughter HELLECE in the village of Marske. Again her maiden name is registered as DOW by Charles King the Registrar.

The family of three travelled back to Cornwall to the parish of Crowan four miles from JOHN’S birthplace also significantly the parish where both ELIZABETH’S maternal and paternal Grandparents had lived and married around the turn of the 18th century. The mode of travel for this daunting 450 mile journey is not known nor the reason for their return to Cornwall, perhaps a family bereavement or improved prospects in the Cornish mining industry?

JOHN, ELIZABETH and baby HELLECE now two years old appear on the 1871 census for Crowan and early the following year ELIZABETH gave birth to a son John.

The family again relocated, this time to New Marske in North Yorkshire Where the Pease family had built terraced homes for their workforce, provided free schools, Churches, allotments of land and Institutes of evening learning. It was here on 14th January 1874 another daughter BERTHA was introduced to the world. ELIZABETH’S maiden name is entered as DAW on the birth certificate by Registrar Charles King.

The following year they journeyed to North Wales either to work or perhaps visit relations, it was at Pwllheli that HELLECE’S death was registered in the June quarter of 1875. Whatever the reason for the trip the family returned to New Marske and were blessed with two new additions in early 1876.

ELIZABETH gave birth to twins on 26th January 1876, ELIZABETH MARY born at 11.00 am. and Louisa at 11.05 am. Elizabeth’s maiden name is entered as DAWE on both birth certificates; by who else than Registrar Charles King.

JOHN decided to seek work in Metal Mines of Llanengan on the Llyn peninsular in North Wales. Where Lead, Zinc and Copper were mined in varying quantities. He and ELIZABETH and their four children thus made another daunting move, and it was here in early 1878 that LOUISA the youngest twin died aged two.

On 9th May the same year my Grandfather GEORGE HENRY MARTIN was born at Cornish Terrace (aka Cornish Row). George Henry was Registered as GEORGE HENRY MURTON the son Of JOHN MURTON and ELIZABETH formerly DAWES. This time the Registrar managed to conjure up new variations for both surnames.

Tragically ELIZABETH passed away 15th February 1880 aged 34 years. She died at Cornish Row whilst giving birth to her their second set of twins WILLIAM THOMAS and SAMUEL. Unusually the twin’s date of birth is registered as 16th February WILLIAM at 2.15 am. and SAMUEL at 2.18 am. Sadly both the twins perished -WILLIAM on 17th November the same year and Samuel shortly after his first birthday on 28th February 1881.
In total five of the family died in this area of Wales, ELIZABETH in 1880 and her children HELLECE in 1875, LOUISA in 1878, WILLIAM THOMAS in 1880 and SAMUEL in 1881. I believe all five may have been laid to rest in the Church Yard at The Parish Church of St. Engan in Llanengan.


JOHN MARTIN and his four surviving children appear on the 1881 census at Cornish Row. It is perhaps little surprise they moved away from Llanengan and less surprising, they moved back to a safer industrial enterprise in Cleveland. The Ironstone mines were free of coal gas and miners could work standing upright in broad tunnels using naked lights, infinitely preferable to crawling on their stomachs through damp, dark and dirty 18 inch high tunnels fearful of being gassed or blown up.

JOHN MARTIN and children JOHN, BERTHA, ELIZABETH MARY and GEORGE HENRY appear on the 1891 census at Cleveland Street, Great Ayton in North Yorkshire, John supporting the family by mining Ironstone at Ayton Banks or Monument mine.

BERTHA MARTIN married EDWARD DREW at Guisborough in 1894 and GEORGE HENRY MARTIN married EDITH ELEANOR SWAINSON at Guisborough in 1898.

The 1901 Census finds JOHN MARTIN at 16, Belmangate, Guisborough, son JOHN and daughter ELIZABETH MARY are at the same address.

ELIZABETH MARY MARTIN married EDWARD PYE at Guisborough shortly after the 1901 census.

JOHN MARTIN died on 31st March 1903 at Union Street, Guisborough aged 60 years. The cause of death being Progressive Muscular Atrophy, Exhaustion.


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