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John Robert Martin, County ‘Crown Attorney and Clerk of the Peace, dates his birth in the County of Kildare, Ireland, February 25, 1825. He is a grandson of the celebrated Col. Richard Martin of Connemara, County of Galway, Ireland, a large land owner in Ireland, representing Galway in the Irish Parliament, with such associates as Grattan, Curran, Flood, and that class of statesmen and orators. We learn from the “Historical Atlas of Haldimand County,” that Col. Martin sat for Galway until the Union, and continued to represent it in the British Parliament, for a long period, and in that body received the appellation of “Humanity Martin,” for obtaining the passage of an Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, then, strange to say, considered by many people as an infringement on their rights.
The father of our subject was Richard Martin, junior, second son of Col. Martin, and born in the County of Galway, March 25, 1797. He married Emily Sylvia, daughter of John Kirwan, Q.C., of Dublin, and emigrated to Canada in. 1833, settling in the Township of Seneca, County of Haldimand, near York, and there improved a farm, partly opened when he purchased it. At that time the Indians had not left this part of the province; the country was wild; but few roads were opened; grist mills and markets were remote, and Mr. Martin and his family had a liberal experience in frontier life.
When the rebellion broke out in the latter part of 1837, Mr. Martin was prompt to shoulder his musket and march to the front, joining a company which was stationed several months at Chippawa. On returning from the “war” he raised a company of volunteers in Haldimand, and was subsequently appointed Lieut. Colonel in the local militia. He was for years a member of the District Council; was one of the originators and directors of the Gore Bank, and was Sheriff of Haldimand from 1850 until the time of his death, April 4, 1878, being in the 82nd year of his age. He sleeps in the churchyard of St, John’s Church, York, six miles from Cayuga. His wife died in 1868. In his prime, Sheriff Martin. was one of the most stirring, enterprising men in the county, and one of the best known men in this section of the Province.
At his demise he left five sons, Richard Martin, Q. C., the eldest, and Edward Martin, Q.C., the youngest, both prominent barristers in Hamilton; Evan Stratford Martin, who was Deputy Sheriff under his father for twenty-seven years; Frederick Oliver Martin, a prominent agriculturist, who owns and occupies the old homestead near York; and the subject of this sketch, who is the second son. John R. Martin was eight years old when the family came to this country, and has a distinct recollection of the wildness and romantic beauty of the scenes which here first met his eyes in the Valley of the Grand River in the latter part of the year 1833, His education, begun in the Old World, he finished in the public school at York; was first articled as a student-at-law to George S. Tiffarry of Hamilton; finished his legal education with his brother Richard Martin at Hamilton; was called to the bar in 1853, and practiced at Hamilton until 1857, when he was appointed County Crown Attorney and Clerk of the Peace for Haldimand, and settled in Cayuga, now having one of the most sightly and delightful residences in the village, and carrying on a very large law business.
Mr. Martin is a large property owner in other parts of the county as well as at the shiretown; is one of the leading agriculturists of Haldimand; has aided largely in the introduction of blooded stock, horses, cattle, sheep, etc., into the country, and was a Director of the County Agricultural Society, serving also as its President some years. At one period in his younger years, the chief care of his father’s farm was left to him, and he managed it admirably. He is emphatically a self educated man. In politics he is a Liberal Conservative, but holding a Government office for the last twenty-three years, he has taken no active part in such matters. He is doing general law business, and stands well as a barrister. He is a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, and has often served as warden of the same.
Mr. Martin was married the first time in 1855, and the second time August 30, 1874, to Sarah Gubbins, daughter of Joseph Lancelot Gubbins, of Limerick, Ireland, a well known family in that country.
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