Robert Amberson Marten

Robert Amberson Marten was born in Glastonbury in 1699. His father was William Martin, a soap boiler in Bristol. The origin of the Martin (sic) family was almost certainly from the Glastonbury area – but William appears to have married Elizabeth the niece of a Bristol trader and adventurer Robert Amberson in 1678. Robert Amberson Marten was the youngest of at least four children.

The Martin family had undoubtedly been caught up in the tumultuous events of the Civil War and the Monmouth rising of 1685 that hit the West country particularly hard. This may explain some of the movement to and from Bristol and the problems and persecution encountered by the non conformists and Quakers prevalent amongst the Bristol traders and Soap boilers.

Robert Amberson Marten was born into much more benign times just as the trading port of Bristol was booming with new colonies and adventures. This entrepreneurial spirit was to colour his life and bring him to the Port of London where his subsequent family was to settle. At one time he indeed professed to be a Quaker but whatever the case he remained strongly apart from the establishment and non conformist.

We know a fair bit about his career as his second eldest son Nathaniel Marten wrote a testimonial of his father’s life in about 1815. Nathaniel describes his father in glowing terms. He was undoubtedly a tall man of about six foot.

Robert Amberson Marten married Alice Harford, when she was reputedly only 15 years old. They had five children who grew to adulthood. Their careers bear testimony to the range of Robert’s business interests. He worked variably as a wine merchant, debt and tax collector and even mushroom grower. Although he was clearly in contact with merchants who sailed the world he never himself went abroad as far as we know.

The most distinguished son of his was Humphrey Marten who became Chief Factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada. His second son, Nathaniel Marten pursued a career in London in Pastry making becoming a Freeman of the Cooks Company. His youngest son also Robert Amberson Marten died at sea.

The London Gazette records that Robert Amberson Marten twice had spells in debtors prison which is at odds with his son’s radiant account – but was probably an occupational hazard of his zealous entrepreneurial nature.

He seems to have died in Dorset in 1758 seemingly on another venture that seem to have got more and more eccentric as he got older.


Family of Robert Amberson MARTEN and Alice HARFORD

Husband:Robert Amberson MARTEN (1699-1758)
Wife:Alice HARFORD (1708-1780)
Children:William Loyd MARTEN (bap.1725, d.bef1730)
Martha MARTEN (bap.1726, bur.1773)
 Humphrey MARTEN (1729-1790)
Nathaniel MARTEN (1735-1816)
Robert Amberson MARTEN (1736-1773)
Alicia MARTEN (1740-1823)
Marriage6 Apr 1724Clifton, Gloucestershire

Husband: Robert Amberson MARTEN

Name:Robert Amberson MARTEN
Father:William MARTEN (1655-bef1715)
Mother:Elizabeth AMBERSON ( – )
Birth2 Sep 1699Glastonbury1
Baptism5 Sep 1699 (age 0)Glastonbury (St John The Baptist)
Death1758 (age 58-59)Dorset
Burial13 Sep 1758St Mary’s, Burton Bradstock, Dorset

Wife: Alice HARFORD

Name:Alice HARFORD
Father:Thomas HARFORD (bap.1659, d.bef1720)
Mother:Martha BUTLER (b.1668, bur.1739)
Christening24 Aug 1722 (age 13-14)Clifton, Gloucestershire
Death14 Mar 1780 (age 71-72)Bristol
Burial17 Mar 1780

Child 1: William Loyd MARTEN

Name:William Loyd MARTEN
Baptism2 Apr 1725St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol
Deathbef 1730

Child 2: Martha MARTEN

Name:Martha MARTEN
Spouse 1:Edward POSGATE ( -c. 1762)
Spouse 2:Stephen GOULDER (1712- )
Baptism7 Jul 1726St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol
Burial22 Sep 1773St Anne Limehouse

Child 3: Humphrey MARTEN

Name:Humphrey MARTEN
Spouse:PAWPITCH ( -1771)
Birth2 Feb 1729Bristol
Baptism20 Feb 1729 (age 0)St Stephens, Bristol
Occupationbtw 1760 and 1780 (age 30-51)-; Commander York (Factory), Manitoba, Canada
Death26 Jun 1790 (age 61)Windsor

Child 4: Nathaniel MARTEN

Name:Nathaniel MARTEN
Spouse:Martha CLARKSON (1736-1790)
Birth19 May 1735London
Occupationbtw 1770 and 1790 (age 34-55)Freeman of the Cooks Company
Death17 Oct 1816 (age 81)Assembly Row, Mile End
Burial24 Oct 1816Bunhill Fields MI

Child 5: Robert Amberson MARTEN

Name:Robert Amberson MARTEN
Birth27 May 1736
Baptism14 Dec 1749 (age 13)St Dunstans, Stepney
Death1773 (age 36-37)

Child 6: Alicia MARTEN

Name:Alicia MARTEN
Spouse:Burton BINDON (1726-bef1799)
Death21 Apr 1823 (age 82-83)Clonmel, Ireland


1“Marten Papers”. Text From Source: Reference: ADD.MS7744/P/21
Scope and Content
Envelope containing:
a) AGM to Vicar of St John the Baptist, Glastonbury [Henry Lowry Barnwell (1858-1912)], 14 June 1894. Copy.
b) Barnwell to AGM
With copy of baptismal entry, 5 Sep. 1699, of Robert Amberson Marten.16 June 1894
c) Barnwell to AGM 21 fune 1894.
d) Note concerning Barnwell.