MARTIN, Peter (by 1515-63 or later), of Helston, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1515.1

Offices Held

Reeve, Helston 1536-8, mayor 1549-50, 1552-3.2


Peter Martin was a tinner who owned 12 tinworks and two mills for grinding and blowing in the parish of Wendron, some two miles from Helston. In 1544 he served as a sapper at Boulogne under William Godolphin I, then the son and heir apparent of a Cornish magnate and later comptroller of the tin coinage in the shire. At his departure for France, Martin owed a consortium of merchants, who included William Hurst and William Webbe II, money which he had agreed to repay within five years of the original loan. John Vivian, a kinsman of Reginald Mohun, stood surety for Martin in return for the deeds to all his possessions. While Martin was abroad, Vivian entered his house in Helston and took away goods valued at £200 as well as appropriating a further £200 from the profits of the tinworks, even though the period for the loan had not expired, and Martin brought an action against him in Chancery to redeem his losses. Martin was the defendant in a case over title deeds in the same court under Edward VI. His single taste of Parliament was doubtless the apogee of his local career, and his return is the only known example of an inhabitant representing the borough during the 16th century. He may have enjoyed the support of his former commander at Boulogne, but he probably benefited more from the determination of (Sir) Edward Hastings to ensure that, at least in the region under his control as lord warden of the stannaries, ‘men given to good order’ should be chosen for Parliament. Of his contribution to the last Parliament of Mary’s reign, nothing is known. The last glimpse of Martin is in May 1563 when he shared with three others a 21-year lease of tinworks in St. Hilary.3

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference.
  • 2. Duchy Cornw. RO, 120, m. 9v; 226, m. 1; information from G. Haslam.
  • 3. C1/1237/88-91, 1370/31; CPR, 1560-3, pp. 609-10.