Miss Rachael Martin, teacher and eccentric


In memoriam Rachael Martin, Departed this life Aug 22nd, 1867. "She died Trusting in her Redeemer"

Rachael Martin was born in 1786 and died 22 August 1867. In 1935 her tombstone was found broken and lying on the ground. It has since been repaired and replaced but is now only partly legible.

Headquarters, Fredericton, NB, 28 August 1867:

Died at her residence in Fredericton, on 22nd August, Rachel Martin, daughter of the late Dr. Martin, for many years a respected teacher of this place. She died trusting in the merits of her Redeemer.

On Friday last might have been seen a small, serious if not sad, party, winding its way towards St. Anne’s Church, headed by its worthy rector, Rev. Mr. Lee. Next followed a hearse containing all that was mortal of Miss Rachel Martin. Half a century ago, to her was entrusted the care of educating the greater part of the present heads of the oldest families of this town. Her poetical effusions also will long be remembered "in both houses." Great age (the supposition is, for no one could find out with accuracy, over ninety) and suffering had of late years added much to her extreme eccentricity, but her wonderful reliance on herself and her Maker made up for the infirmities to which all are subject, therefore "nothing extenuate or set down ought in malice". There was more to admire than censure in this teacher of over two thousand souls. The pains of her passing away were greatly relieved by the indefatigable care of the wife of Dr. Cougle, who, ever ready to watch by the sufferer’s bedside, devoted day and night to that Christian purpose, assisted by another lady (Mrs. Vail) now on a visit to our town.

Rachael Martin’s father, the Reverend Dr. John Martin (1748-1832), was a surgeon and Presbyterian minister from Ireland who emigrated first to the United States. About 1776, he married Abigail Denison (1751-1829) who had also come from the United States. Both are buried in Sussex Corner, New Brunswick. Rachael had several siblings: Abigail, who died young, Lavinia and John, both of whom married members of the Graves family, Malka, who married a Colonel Cougal, and Mary, who married a Leggatt.

Dr. Arthur W.H. Eaton’s 1910 History of Kings County, Nova Scotia says that Rachael Martin "kept a notable school for girls in Kentville… and had much influence on the minds and manners of the Kentville young women…. She had the floor of her school room chalked, and her pupils were literally obliged to ‘toe the mark’."

In 1822 a Sunday school for black children was established that lasted for at least 2 years and was taught by Rachael Martin, who was the supervisor of the Madras school in Fredericton. In the 1850s she was a teacher in Fredericton and was reputed to be a good one.

Journals of the House of Assembly, New Brunswick, 29 January 1853:

Mr. Partelow, by leave presented a petition from Rachel Martin, an instructress of youth, setting forth her long and faithful services and the inestimable benefit she has for a period of twenty-six years, rendered to the Province in that capacity, praying compensation therefore; which he read… it was decided in the negative.

Miss Martin’s address on 25 October 1861 was a welcome to the new governor, His Excellency the Honourable Arthur Gordon — to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne": "Hail Gordon of illustrious race, The Pride of Aberdeen — With smiles we meet thy noble face and thank our gracious Queen. Hail Gordon — our hearts o’er flow with Loyalty’s high tide…" and continued for many verses.

Her Fredericton home was on Waterloo Row and it is thought that the back end is now [the carriage house behind] the Carriage House Inn, University Avenue.

2 thoughts on “Miss Rachael Martin, teacher and eccentric”

  1. Re Loyalist Families
    I am looking for Miss Rachael Martin’s complete address to welcome His Excellency Hon Arthur Gordon to NB on 25 Oct 1861. It is mentioned on your websitein relation to Miss Martin but no reference is given.
    “H-E-L-P” Any clues you could give me would be much appreciated

  2. JimW, I’m afraid I’ve been unable to trace the text for you. In her original manuscript and notes for this book, Miss Hill had not recorded any more of Miss Martin’s 1861 speech to Lt.-Gov Arthur Charles Hamilton-Gordon, unfortunately, nor had she given her source for the fragments quoted. Considering the strong oral history tradition of the Maritimes, it may well be that the full text was never published; it may be that this opening fragment was simply passed down in the community, as an anecdote, in much the same way as folk songs were preserved.

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