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The Martin Family of Newcastle County Down

Letters found in a wall

Letter 1
Letter 1a
Letter 2
Letter 3
Letter 4
Letter 5
Letter 6
Letter 7
Letter 8
Letter 9
Letter 10
Letter 11
Letter 12
Letter 13
Letter 14
Letter 15
Letter 16
Letter 17
Letter 18
Letter 19
Letter 20
Letter 21
Letter 22
Letter 23
Letter 24
Letter 25
Letter 26
Letter 27
Letter 28
Letter 29
Letter 30
Letter 31
Letter 32
Letter 33
Letter 34
Letter 35


In December 1997 an article appeared in the "Mourne Observer" describing some letters that were found when a house in Newcastle was being renovated by a Mr Samuel Pollock. The letters had been written by members of the Martin family of Newcastle, County Down, between 1844 and 1863, many of them by the young sons who were at sea.

The letters were a treasure trove of information for Warren Martin who lives in Australia. Warren has been researching his family for several years and knew that his grand-father William Stitt Martin was from Newcastle and had immigrated to Australia in 1870. He contacted Sandra Ardis (nee Martin) through a genealogy notice board where she had posted her Martin interests. Sandra's family, from Boardmills, appear not to be connected to Warren's but she was able to do some research for him while pursuing her own.

Through his Stitt research Warren was contacted by Briege Stitt of Ballynahinch Local Studies Library who had come across a copy of the newspaper article in the library. With her help Warren contacted Mr Pollock, and now four years later, he is in possession of scans of the letters, which have been transcribed for this website. We would like to thank Mr Pollock for providing us with a copy of these letters to use on our website.

Due to the ravages of time some of the letters are damaged and faded. Accordingly there are many gaps in the transcription. Also, most of them are undated or the date is missing or unreadable. We are grateful to Sandra Ardis for her work on the transcriptions and on the ordering of the letters.

The letters give a sense of the loneliness of these young boys, eagerly anticipating letters and newspapers from home, even though they were fulfilling their dream of going to sea. The boys write about the names of their ships, the ports they were sailing to and from, the cargoes they were carrying and the duration of their voyages. There are also requests for money to buy warmer clothes, news of family and when they might get home to Newcastle.

It can be gleaned from the letters that they were a close affectionate family, asking for information about brothers and sisters, and sending home information about brothers and cousins also at sea.

Charles Stitt Martin (son of William Henry Martin and Mary Stitt) and William Stitt Martin (son of James Martin and Catherine Selina Stitt), were cousins. The father and grandfather of James and William Henry were from Magheradrool, Ballynahinch.

Because many of the letters are undated, they are difficult to place chronologically. The earliest dated one is 12 January 1844. No attempt has been made to place them in any particular order, other than the first dated one.

I anyone has information about the family Warren Martin, aquam@optusnet.com.au, would be please to hear from them.