William Martin (1772-1851) was born in a small cottage, at the Tow-house, near Bardon Mill, Haltwhistle, Northumberland during a night of violent thunder and lightning on June 21st 1772. A philosopher, doggerel poet, pamphleteer, engraver and inventor, he aspired to be ‘Renaissance Man’ and aimed for the “defeat of learned humbugs”:
"Cheer up, you Northumberland and British Bards that can use the pen
And show your divine wisdom for the good of all men…
Cheer up, you Britons, your champion has the battle won,
All the world cannot penetrate the celestial armour he has him upon."
His many inventions included a Life Preserver, a Mechanical Horse, and a Flying Machine. Some of his discoveries and ideas came to him, like his brother Jonathan, in “dreams and visions of the night”.
ON THE PLACE OF MY BIRTH
The beauties of my native place,
Bard-like, I must them now relate;
If my pen doth handle well, ‘twill
Turn out something that is great.
Above Thorngrafton stands Barkum-Hill
With a lofty top and proudly high
Upon its top stands a spire-like stone –
And a landmark – raises its head to catch the eye.
South of that, across the River Tyne, stands
Ridley Hall with pleasant gardens fine,
Which beautifies the lovely dale,
And makes sweet Tyne-side to shine.
Not far from that, up the water Allan,
Stands Stawart-Castle, on a rock so high,
Surrounded with pleasant woods, and waters
Clear, delights the traveller’s penetrating eye.
How delightful, in a summer’s morn, the
Feather’d songsters they loudly sing;
The blackbird and the thrush likewise,
They make the groves and valleys ring.
(Words: William Martin / Tune: 'Love is the Cause of My Mourning’ - Trad. arr. Ann Sessoms)
from Mad Martins,
releases March 31, 2017
Keith Armstrong - Spoken Word
Ann Sessoms - Northumbrian Pipes
'Mad Martins' is a unique project by poet Keith Armstrong and songwriter Gary Miller featuring original songs, poetry and
spoken word narration depicting the extraordinary life and times of the notorious Martin brothers, William, Jonathan and John, who were born in the late Eighteenth Century in the South Tyne area of Northumberland....more