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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Martin, Thomas

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1825
Place of birth Pelean in Perran (Stithians), Cornwall, England.
Date of arrival 1847
Principal occupation Slate Quarry owner
Date of death 1900
Place of decease St. Mary’s Lodge in Willunga, South Australia.

St Mary's Lodge 15 St Marys Street

Thomas Martin was the third son of Thomas Martin and Elizabeth (Betsey) Pearce and he was born on 29 September 1825 at Pelean in Perran (Stithians), Cornwall, England. Thomas was baptised in St. Stythians Church of England on 29 Sept 1825. As a young man Thomas Martin first worked as a copper miner in Treboast, Cornwall in 1841 and then during the 1840s the Martin family moved to Tremenhere, near Foundry, where Thomas worked as a tin dresser.

In 1847 Thomas, aged 22 years, was a Government emigrant to South Australia aboard the 676 ton La Belle Alliance arriving at Port Adelaide from Plymouth on 1 July 1847. He had intended to go north to the Burra copper mines but decided instead to go south to the Willunga slate quarries where he subsequently worked as a quarrymen. In 1851/2 he ventured to the Victorian Goldfields where he was quite successful having a gold consignment of more than 70 ounces delivered to him in the Third Gold Escort of July 1852. In 1853 Thomas purchased the slate quarry, that later became known as Bastian’s Quarry, from Thomas Polkinghorne initially working it with Sampson Bastian. Martin sold the quarry to Bastian and by 1855 he owned and operated the nearby Willunga Slate Quarry (later Martin’s Quarry). Martin operated and developed the slate quarry over the next forty years, exporting slate to all the Australian colonies.

Thomas Martin was a member of the Independent Order of Oddfellows (IOOF), a Justice of the Peace from 1874, a District Councillor for many years and Chairman of the Willunga District Council. Thomas also testified about the need for a railway to Willunga before a Select Committee of the House of Assembly in 1882. He was active in the local Agricultural Society and served as a member of the Willunga Branch of the Central Agricultural Bureau from 1889.

Thomas Martin married Elizabeth Jane Polkinghorne (28/09/1836-24/04/1866), eldest daughter of Thomas Polkinghorne, now a farmer of Beltunga, at St. Stephen’s Church of England near Willunga on 3 Dec 1853. Although he was married in the Church of England, by the 1860s he had became an active Wesleyan Methodist, like his first wife Elizabeth. They had seven children (5 sons and 2 daughters), all born in Willunga: Thomas (29/10/1854-28/01/1942) (m. Ann Marshall on 03/02/1881 at the residence of Thomas Marshall in Willunga; they had 10 children) Grace Elizabeth (20/03/1856-26/05/1915) (m. John Dunstan 1851-1924) Henry (01/02/1859-08/03/1859) William (21/02/1860-1894) (m. Mary Elizabeth Noye on 20/03/1886) John (08/03/1861-23/11/1945) occupation – policeman, farmer (m. Emma Maria Waye at the residence of Thomas Waye in Willunga on 21/02/1890) Ernest Edward (20/03/1863-22/05/1914) occupation – telegraph office clerk. (m. Louise Mary Warren Hester on 07/05/1889 in Millicent, SA) Annie (06/12/1864-1864)

Nearly two years after the death of his first wife Elizabeth in 1866, Thomas Martin, aged 43, married Bridget Hall (nee Atkinson), aged 42 years, on 27 Feb 1868, five years after the death of her first husband James John Hall in 1863. At the time of their marriage Thomas had five surviving children and Bridget had surviving two sons - Thomas George Hall (1856-1898) m. Emily Maud Read and Spencer Atkinson Hall (1861-1927) m. Jessie Walsh (1st) in 1887 and m. Katherine Kay (2nd) on 28 Jan 1909. So the family then consisted of seven children aged between four and fourteen.

Thomas Martin died, aged 74 years, on 7 Feb 1900 at St. Mary’s Lodge in Willunga and he is buried in the Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga.

Related Articles


  • The Express and Telegraph. 5 Feb 1900:2
  • Edwards Tony and Wendy. 2016. The Complete History of Arthur and Rose: The Martin Jacca Crougey and Coombe families in Cornwall and South Australia. Openbook Howden. St. Marys SA. pp. 33 91 97 & 152-155

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