An Interview with Police Sergeant L H Martin

Notes of an interview with Sergeant L H Martin made by Nicholas Butler in the mid 1980s

These are the notes made by Nicholas Butler who interviewed Police Sergeant L H Martin of 1 Connaught Road, Little Clacton, Essex in the mid 1980s as part of his research for his book “The Story of Wivenhoe”.   These notes have been re-typed by Ann Jones from Nicholas Butler’s original notes and posted here by Frances Belsham.

What Police Sergeant L H Martin told Nick Butler.

My father was Wallace Lewis Martin, a carpenter and joiner (born Wivenhoe 30 April 1884).   He married a lady from Kent at Wivenhoe on 24 January 1910.   His ship was the Vanessa.

My grandfather was Henry John Martin (born 5 October 1842)   Married Hannah Prior Harvey on 25 August 1865, she was born 26 September 1843.   They lived in Bath Street.

My great-grandfather was James Argent Martin, born 5 October 1803.   Married Mary Blyth, her father was ‘Ikey’ Isaac Blyth.   Isaac Blyth lived in the house just below The Grosvenor opposite The Falcon.   The slaughterhouse used to be in Blyth’s Lane – as boys we called it Blood Alley.   The name of the butcher was Ribbons, he used to have the shop later owned by Terence Endean on Black Buoy Hill and now converted into a private house.   Sold out to a man called Atkinson.

My great-great-grandfather James Martin, buried 15 April 1855 said to be 70 years of age, said to be born in 1778 or 1779, as far as I know he was a Wivenhoe man, no reason to believe he was an officer.   I can remember a tombstone in the High Street opposite Blyth’s Lane, had James Martin and Neptune on it and possibly the word “gunner”.   (Mr Martin showed Nicholas Butler exactly where it had once stood)   Whenever this James Martin was mentioned it was as a member of the ship’s company of the Bellerophon.   His parents were either James or John and Elizabeth.  (Mr Martin showed Nicholas Butler the tombstone at the side of the churchyard with their initials on it.  EM 1822   JM 1823   ERM 1831)   James or John was born in about 1740 every reason to believe he was born at Alresford.

Click here to see a photograph of the James Martin’s tombstone

James Martin the Wivenhoe gunner spent his last penny on litigation, trying to prove a relationship with the family of Captain Matthew Martin of Alresford Hall and by that same token that his family owned Alresford Hall.

Sergeant Martin showed Nicholas Butler James Martin’s pocket book (3 7/8” x 5 3/4”).   The writing is neat and very legible.

James Martin had one child whom he named Robert Charles.

Sergeant Martin recalled he was at the Infants School, then the boys school, then the Royal Grammar School.

Humphreys was the name of the man who built the aeroplane.

Cox & King’s was then at the same site as Husk’s, it was later called Cox Marine.   It finished in about 1922 or 1924. Husk’s was on the upstream side of the river, Cox Marine on the downstream side.   I cannot recall much activity at Cox & King’s.

The Council Offices were at 38 High Street.

The entrance to Captain Matthew Martin’s Wivenhoe house was pulled down when the brick wall on the north side of the railway cutting was built.   It evidently stood near Talisman’s.   By tradition Matthew Martin’s house was allowed to fall down after he moved to Alresford, and it did.   It might have stood where the railway cutting is now. The original Hayward Rush map tends to bear this out.   According to the map he actually built that house. He was born in 1676 and it is my belief that he went to Alresford to be a big frog in a little puddle.   It was said that James Martin had a bundle of papers.   One day his wife burned them to prevent him spending more money on fruitless litigation.

According to the Alresford parish records Matthew Martin was buried on 3 July 1749.

Samuel Martin – buried 24 May 1765

Thomas Martin – Lord of the Manor – buried 30 April 1776

Annie Martin – baptised 4 June 1719 and Anne Martin buried at Wivenhoe in August 1720

In August 1716 a child of Matthew and Sarah Martin is buried.

Matthew Martin was born at Wivenhoe.   He was baptised on 17 May 1676 the day of his birth.   Son of Samuel and Mary.   Samuel’s father was described as a mariner.

Second interview

Council Offices first of all in the High Street, the house immediately below Alma Street, the house with the bow window No 35 did indeed belong first of all to Ikey Blyth and then to his son, another Blyth.   New Council Offices built in about 1924.   The house where the meetings were first held was occupied by a family called Watcham. There was a fire in the courtyard when the new Council Offices were built, “I can still see old Byles standing there with a smug look on his face, and it wasn’t long before Mrs Richardson and Harry Bensley got onto the Council and turned things inside out and Frank Byles was inside.”   Byles was knocking on 60 and the rumour was he worked in the prison library when in prison.

Balaam King was the Town Crier, he rang a bell but had no official uniform.   He had a pony and cart and used to sell fish.   He had a small house near the Rowhedge Ferry tollgate.  He smoked his own bloaters.   Used to get dead drunk.   My mother got a better price for his fish when he was drunk.   His pony used to take him home.

Byles was a tall, pompous-looking man with a bulbous face.

Fire Brigade would put up a maroon, the first two men would take the barrow to the scene of the fire.   The Wivenhoe Fire Brigade was a laugh, all the village used to turn out and give unsolicited help.

It seems that Nettleinghame’s real name was Nettlinghame, if that was his name.

My mother’s family came from Kent, she was not accepted until she had outlived everybody.  Her name was Nettleingham.

This page was added on 05/11/2016.

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