MARTIN, GEORGE, commodore of the British fleet at the capture of Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.), 1710; d. 22 Oct. 1724 (o.s., or less likely 22 Nov. 1732).
From 1692 on, Martin obtained several commissions in the Royal Navy. On 7 March 1708/9 he received orders to carry Colonels Samuel Vetch and Francis Nicholson to North America with other commissioned officers of a projected joint British and colonial expedition against the French colonies. Through the summer Martin’s vessel lay in Boston harbour while the colonials made preparations and awaited the arrival of the promised fleet and troops from England. Finally in October the Enterprise arrived with news that the proposed expedition had been set aside. Despite entreaties by colonial officials, Martin refused to take part in a less ambitious colonial operation against Port-Royal, claiming he had orders to sail back to England. At the last moment Nicholson sailed with him to plead once again for a combined operation against the French colonies.
Nicholson obtained support for an expedition against Port-Royal or other French colonies. Martin, this time commodore of the fleet, set sail 19 May 1710, carrying Nicholson and other officers to Boston. Over the summer the possibility of a larger venture against the whole of Canada arose. Viscount Shannon began preparations in England, but by the end of August these were abandoned, forcing a reversion to the original plan.
On 18 September the Dragon sailed “from Nantaskett with his Majt’s ships Falmouth, Lowestaffe [Lowestoft], Feversham, and Starrbomb, the Province Gally, two Hospital ships, and 31 saile of Transports with two thousand troops on board for Port Royall.” The fleet anchored at the entrance to Port-Royal harbour 24 September and after a council of war the siege began. On the 27th the Starrbomb (Star Bomb) “at 7 began to bombard with gt success which,” according to Martin, “chiefly was the occasion of the fort’s capitulating,” although the artillery fire and the deployment of the land force were probably the decisive factors.
On 1 October the preliminaries of the capitulation were settled, and on the 5th Auger de Subercase marched out of the fort. The next week was spent “setting the affairs of the Fortt and territory adjacent” and “supplying the garrison of Annapolis Royal with provisions from the severall men of war and the three transports appointed to carry the Garrison of Port Royall to old France.” The Dragon, with Martin as captain, accompanied the New England transports to Boston, and later sailed for England. It was lost on the “Gaskets” (Channel Islands, the Casquets?) 11 May 1711. Although Martin survived, he did not command other ships after this date.
The capture of Port-Royal provided a victory to raise sagging British morale. Contemporary observers noted the successful cooperation between land and sea forces under Nicholson and Martin, and the dispatch with which Martin had “executed his orders most fully and completely.” Martin, however, had reason to regret his North American tour of duty. In 1712 he complained of a stop in pay at the ticket office, imposed for his ordering that the ships’ provisions be given to the garrison left at Annapolis Royal. The outcome of his petition is not known.
PRO, Adm. 1/2094, 1/2095 (captain’s letters); C.O. 5/9, ff.101–4, 111, 119–20, 159 (copies in PAC, MG 11). “Journal of Colonel Nicholson at the capture of Annapolis, 1710,” N.S. Hist. Soc. Coll., I (1878), 59–104. Campbell, Lives of the admirals, IV, 130–31. Thomas Lediard, The naval history of England . . . from the Norman conquest . . . to the conclusion of 1734 (2v., London, 1735). Charnock, Biographia navalis, III, 199–201, 346–47. G.B., Admiralty, List of sea officers, 1660–1815, II, 604. John Hardy, A chronological list of the Captains of His Majesty’s Royal Navy with the dates of the first commissions, promotions, and other occurrences (beginning) the first June 1673 in the reign of King Charles (London, 1784), 23, 27. Waller, Samuel Vetch.