The Civic Presentation of a Ceremonial Sword to Captain Thomas Wright Marten

Marcia Gadd

(First published in 2003 in volume 8, pp. 4-5, of the third series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)

The brave sons of Britain, they never did flinch
From the scorching high hills or the cold flooded trench.
They have planted their standard - who dare pull it down? -
in conjunction with France in Sebastopol Town.
The most soldier-like gentleman I ever did see,
Attached to the Seventh, upon the Crimea,
Is one Captain Martin, the pride of Yorkshire;
He crossed the Redan when the town was on fire!

(Extract from 'What have you seen in the Crimea?' source unknown)

Captain (later Colonel) Thomas Marten of the 7th Royal Fusiliers was presented with an inscribed, jewelled ceremonial sword by thee town and people of Bradford at the St George's Hall on 23rd July 1856. This was to commemorate his bravery in the storming of the Redan at the siege of Sebastopol in June 1855 during the Crimean War. After all the Regiment's officers had been killed or wounded, he succeeded to the command of the regiment (aged 28), led it across the ramparts of the Redan and subsequently took it out of action. He afterwards bore a part in the duties of the trenches till the day Sebastopol fell.

On the evening of 23rd July 1856 more than seventy gentlemen sat down to a sumptuous banquet in the St George's Hall. The Mayor, William Murgatroyd presided. Some of those present were Mr R. Milligan, Mr William Garnett, Mr George Salt, Mr J.V. Godwin and Mr Delius (father of the composer, Frederick). A large number of elegantly dressed ladies were present after the dinner. The Bramley Brass Band played a variety of music during the dinner and afterwards. An eight course dinner was served which included turtle soup, haunch of venison, saddle of lamb, chicken with truffles, strawberry soufflé and ices. Several speeches were given, including one by Capt. Marten's uncle, General Marten, who had fought at Waterloo.

Capt. Marten had served five-and-a-half years in the Ceylon Rifles before transferring to the 7th Fusiliers. He received the Crimean Medal with clasp (for Sebastopol) and the Turkish Crimean Medal. He also served in the Indian North West Frontier War of 1863 for which he was awarded the Umbeyla Campaign Medal with clasp. After retiring from the army he farmed in Canada. He was the son of William Marten who was well known in Bradford's wool trade. The family lived at Undercliffe House (now demolished) and subsequently at Summerhill, Apperley Bridge. He died at Tottenham on 18th January 1893.

The inscription on the sword reads:-

Sword presented to Capt. Marten
Presented to Captain Thomas Wright Marten, 7th Royal Fusiliers, by his Friends and fellow Townsmen, as a mark of their admiration for his dauntless bravery and good conduct during the siege of Sebastopol and in the final assault upon the Great Redan

Capt. Marten had two sons who also had distinguished careers. William Henry Russell Elliot Marten was private secretary and ADC to the Governor of British Honduras. Major Ellison Thomas Charles Newton Marten served in the 43rd Light Infantry, the Madras Light Cavalry and later served as an officer in the Egyptian Police Force.

Hilt of sword presented to Capt. Marten

The sword is now in the possession of Capt. Marten's great grandson who lives in Ealing, London.

A full account of the Presentation is to be found in the Bradford Observer for 24th July 1856.

Marcia Gadd is the great, great niece of Capt. Marten.

© 2003, Marcia Gadd and The Bradford Antiquary