Edward Waterer Martin J P (1836 - 1933)

Farmer at Nonsuch Park, distiller of peppermint and lavender,
and sometime occupier of The Manor House, Ewell

Edward Waterer Martin
Edward Waterer Martin
Image source Bourne Hall Museum

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Surrey was renowned for its 'physic gardens' producing in particular lavender and peppermint as reported in the following extract from Agricultural Surveys: Surrey (1809) commissioned by the Board of Agriculture: -
"... a greater quantity of land is employed in raising physical plants in Surrey than in any other county in England. Several of these are no doubt, cultivated on a larger scale elsewhere; but if the whole extent of ground under these plants be taken into the calculation, this county will be found to stand foremost.

Those which are grown to the greatest extent are peppermint, lavender, wormwood, chamomile, aniseed, liquorice, and poppy.

By far the greatest part of the physic gardens lie in the parish of Mitcham, in the hundred of Wallington, about nine miles from London. The soil used for this purpose is, as may naturally be supposed, rendered extremely rich by art, as well as originally of a good quality: it is what is generally termed a deep, sound, black mould, made very deep by trench-ploughing or digging, and lying on an absorbent subsoil.

Peppermint. Considerably more than 100 acres of this herb are grown in the parish of Mitcham. In the culture great attention and labour are requisite: the ground must be made very fine and open to a considerable depth, by frequent ploughings, harrowings, and rollings; and the manure must not only be well rotten before it is applied, but worked well with the soil. This herb requires the constant use of the hoe, in order to keep the soil open, and prevent the weeds from rising among it; as they would not only retard its growth, and make the crop thinner, but also injure it for distillation, unless they were carefully gathered out.

Before the winter sets in, the mould from the alleys between the beds is thrown over the plants, in order to prevent the frost from injuring them, as they are apt both to be thrown out of the ground and to be killed, if the weather prove severe. From the tenderness of this plant, when exposed either to very wet or very cold weather, it is found necessary to replant one-third of the whole crop every year: in other words, it cannot be reckoned upon as lasting more than three years.

The demand for peppermint would not be nearly so great as it is, if the use of the water were confined solely to medicinal purposes; but it is well known that in London by far the most considerable part of it is drunk as a dram.

Lavender. The seed of this plant is sown on rich and well-prepared ground in the spring; and in April the following year, the plants are set in rows two feet from each other. During the summer, the ground is carefully hoed and weeded; and in the autumn, the plants are pruned and trimmed. Before the frost sets in, the intervals are dug over; and every other year 20 loads of rich well-rotten dung are laid on, and pointed in, per acre.

Some of the flowers are bunched, and sold; but the greater part of them being intended for lavender-water, are thrown loose into mats, and thus carried to the still-room."
Such production also extended to Ewell.

Nonsuch Farmhouse on the 1866 OS Map - Click to enlarge
Nonsuch Farmhouse on the 1866 OS Map
Click on image to enlarge

In 1835, Jane, nee Smithers, the wife of Thomas Isaacson, died in Nonsuch Park Farm aged only 36. Her bereaved husband decided to give up farming there and advertised the sale of his live and dead stock in The Times of 7 September 1836.

The Times 07 September 1836
The Times 07 September 1836

Isaacson's successor was James Martin a farmer at Headley, and elsewhere. Edward Waterer Martin, the son of James and his wife Harriett, had been baptised at Headley on 29 May 1836 and he came to Ewell as a baby 6 months old.

In 1838 Mr. James Martin was one of the two new members for Ewell elected to the Board of Guardians. He survived, however, only until 1843 [Death reg. Epsom for September Quarter] when he was buried, aged 43, at St Mary's, Ewell, on 16 August. Will PROB 11-1987 proved 13 October 1843.

The widowed Mrs Harriett Martin, left with three young children, took over management of the farm and by 1861 employed 10 men and three boys on 420 acres. Her son, Edward, was already a member of the Royal Agricultural Society, having joined in 1857.

E W Martin also became a Volunteer, joining 8th Corps when it was formed at Epsom on 21 December 1859. Consequently, he was present when Queen Victoria held her great review of Volunteers in Hyde Park during 1860 The Corps, added to the 1st Administrative Battalion of Surrey Rifle Volunteers in September 1860, transferred to Carshalton in 1862.

On 31 March 1862, at St Peter's Church, Eaton Square, Pimlico, Edward Waterer Martin, 'only son of Mrs Martin of Ewell', married Jessy [born Grosvenor Square, London], daughter of William and Jane Joy of Cheam.

E W Martin followed in his late father's footsteps to become a Guardian for the parish of Ewell in 1866. Later he joined the Croydon Board and both Croydon and Epsom Highways Authorities.

1 Nonsuch Court Avenue was built about this time as a lodge to serve Nonsuch Court Farm, approached through an avenue of horse-chestnut trees.

By 1881, Mr Martin was farming 1,700 acres - eventually increased to 3,000 acres in Ewell, Banstead, Cuddington and Woodmansterne. He was claimed to be the most extensive grower of peppermint and lavender in England and operated his own distillery at Nonsuch Court, producing a cheap mint cordial as a by-product of the essential oil.

Details of the troublesome 'Out Relief' are provided in an article on The Poor on this website. During 1884, Mr Martin proposed a motion "that the present extravagant system of out-relief, while a heavy and costly burden on the rate-payers, is demoralising and preventive of habits of thrift by the people". Nevertheless, he also influenced the Epsom Board to soften the stigma of poverty by substituting 'guardians institute' for 'workhouse' and 'inmate' for 'pauper'.

The death of Harriett, widow of James Martin of Ewell, aged 86, at Glenthorne, Epsom, may be found registered in Epsom for the September Quarter of 1887. On burial at St Mary's, Ewell, 19 August 1887, her name was entered as 'Harriott'.

Transcript of the headstone for James and Harriett Martin
Transcript of the headstone for James and Harriett Martin

On 3 November 1887, at the Old Bailey [case details online], George Thompson aged 41 was found 'not guilty' of feloniously setting fire to a stack of corn, the property of Edward Waterer Martin at Port Mallow Farm, Coulsdon. In a later prosecution, 13 January 1896, Jim Webb, 49, pleaded 'guilty' to feloniously setting fire to a barn and two sheds, the property of Edward Waterer Martin, with intent to injure him; also to a previous conviction at Guildford - sentenced to Seven Years' Penal Servitude.

A fine marble and alabaster pulpit in St Mary's Ewell bears the inscription:- "To the glory of God and in memory of their beloved son and daughter, Edward W and Jessy Martin present this pulpit - 1897". The deceased children had been interred in the churchyard - Mabel Kathleen, aged 15, 30 July 1887 and William Edward, 22, on 1 February 1889.

What is now called the Tattenham Corner line was first authorized as the Chipstead Valley Railway in 1893, a line of 7 miles 38 chains from near Purley to Kingswood in Surrey. It had been promoted by Sir Cosmo Bonsor (1848-1929), M.P. for Kingswood, and later Chairman of the South Eastern Railway. The line was to be worked by the South Eastern Railway which already had running rights over the Brighton line from Purley to London Bridge. An additional Act of 1894 authorized the Epsom Downs Extension Railway, which took the line an additional 3 furlongs 4 chains to a terminus right on the racecourse at Tattenham Corner. Edward Martin, as honorary highways surveyor for Woodmansterne and Cuddington, played a part in determining the route for this railway.

By 1899, Mr Martin had also come into possession of Priest Hill Farm, Ewell. For the 1901 census, however, the Martin family were enumerated at 38 Wellesley Road, Croydon, with Edward describing himself as 'Landowner and farmer' and a son, Herbert J. Martin as 'Farmer & Employer'.

Mrs Jessy Martin's demise at the age of 62 was registered at Epsom 3/1907 suggesting that E W Martin had not been away from Nonsuch very long. Subsequently, he appears to have remained at the farm there until 1916 when he moved to The Manor House, Ewell, following its vacation by the Faber family.

A tablet in St Mary's church, at the extreme western end, records:- "To the glory of God and in memory of Jessy the dearly beloved wife of Edward Waterer Martin by whom this porch was erected - 1908"

At the Surrey Assizes on the 6th December 1921, the inhabitants of Ewell, represented by Thomas Oswald Masters, bank manager, and Edward Waterer Martin, magistrate, were found guilty under an ancient procedure of the misdemeanour of failing to repair Fir Tree Road, which carried heavy traffic to and from Epsom race-course. The complaint had been made by Walter Gerald Langlands under the Highway Act of 1835 although the Local Government Act of 1894 had placed responsibility for maintenance upon the District Council. An order was made that the Rural Council should repair the road which was then done, aided by a grant from the Road Fund.

He remained a member of the Epsom Board of Guardians after being presented with an illuminated address by fellow guardians on his 90th birthday - only retiring after 62 years service in April 1928.

On 9 November 1933, Edward Waterer Martin presided over a meeting of the Sutton and District Water Company (formed 1863) of which he had been chairman for the preceding 15 years. He subsequently developed a cold and six days later took to his bed. At half past ten on 23 November 1933 he was visited by Dr Cope of Ewell who found no immediate cause for concern but, at a quarter past one, the patient collapsed and died at his home, The Manor House, Ewell. In his 98th year, he was buried at St Mary's Ewell.

Probate of his Will was granted on 12 January 1934, to Herbert James Martin, retired farmer, Amy Jessy Martin, spinster, and another Executor. They then proceeded to realise the real estate comprised in the total effects re-sworn at £145,064:14:11.

Extract From the 1866 OS Map
The Manor House on the 1866 OS Map

Auction Announcement from The Times 11 May 1934
Auction Announcement from The Times 11 May 1934

Gleesons bought the fields of Nonsuch Court Farm in 1935 for development as part of that building company's Nonsuch Estate.

The Times 28/12/1943
The Times 28/12/1943
Priest Hill Farm was one of the farms EW Martin owned.

Brian Bouchard © 2011


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