Frederick Townsend Martin

Last updated
Frederick Townsend Martin
Frederick Townsend Martin acde9d92e5 o.jpg
Frederick Townsend Martin, ca. 1910-1914
Born6 December 1849
Died8 March 1914
Education Albany Boys Academy
Alma mater Albany Law School
Parent(s)Henry Hull Martin
Anna Townsend
Relatives Bradley Martin (brother)

Frederick Townsend Martin (December 6, 1849 – March 8, 1914) was a New York City writer, advocate for the poor, [1] [2] and an acknowledged leader of society in New York. [3] He was referred to as a "millionaire with a mission." [4]


Martin circa 1900 Frederick Townsend Martin 03e.jpg
Martin circa 1900
Photo of Martin with an imaginative sketch by journalist Marguerite Martyn of him raising a glass over which are bubbles obscuring "the jaded rich" Photo of Frederick Townsend Martin, with a sketch of him by Marguerite Martyn.jpg
Photo of Martin with an imaginative sketch by journalist Marguerite Martyn of him raising a glass over which are bubbles obscuring "the jaded rich"

Early life

Martin was born in Albany, New York on December 6, 1849 to Henry Hull Martin (1809–1886) and Anna Townsend (1815–1866). [5] His maternal grandfather was Solomon Townsend, a prominent merchant in Albany, and his siblings were Henry Townsend Martin (d. 1915), [6] Bradley Martin (1841–1913), who married Cornelia Sherman, Howard Townsend Martin, and Alice Townsend. His niece, Bradley's daughter, Cornelia Martin (1877-1961), married William Craven, 4th Earl of Craven (1868–1921). [5] [3]

He was educated at the Albany Boys Academy and graduated from the Albany Law School in 1872 and served as a colonel in the New York National Guard, as judge advocate. [1]


At the time of the election U.S. President Harrison, Martin said:

It matters not one iota what political party is in power or what President holds the reins of office. We are not politicians or public thinkers; we are the rich; we own America; we got it, God knows how, but we intend to keep it if we can by throwing all the tremendous weight of our support, our influence, our money, our political connections, our purchased Senators, our hungry Congressmen, our public-speaking demagogues into the scale against any legislature, any political platform, any presidential campaign that threatens the integrity of our estate. [7]

In 1911, he wrote The Passing of the Idle Rich. [8] He would travel to the Bowery Mission in New York City to visit with the homeless. [9] He hosted an annual Christmas dinner for the homeless on the Lower East Side. [3] Martin's writings often criticized the extravagances of the rich - the very circles in which he traveled - and preached that "...where idleness and extravagance creep in decay begins. Nations as well as individuals have to be reminded of the dangers of these evils and they must be faced." [3]

Martin received a large sum of money on the death of his brother, Bradley Martin. [1] Martin was referred to as a successor to Ward McAllister and Harry Lehr as the leader of society in New York. [3] Just prior to his death in 1914, he bought a 10-year lease of 6 Cumberland Place from Gowdy, to install an art collection bequeathed to him by his "intimate friend" Henry Sands. [10] It was Sands intention that both of their collections be kept together and housed in London. [10] After his death, his collection went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. [11]

Personal life

Martin, who did not marry, died on 8 March 1914 at the Hotel Berkeley in London, England of heart failure, his body was returned to America for burial. [3] [12] His funeral was held at Christ Church in London on March 11, 1914. [13] [4]

Clubs and organizations

Martin was a director of the Metropolitan Trust Company and was a member of a number of social clubs, including the Metropolitan Club, Knickerbocker Club, and Aero Club in New York, the Marlborough Club, St James's Club, Bachelors Club, and Wellington Club of London, the Travelers Club, Automobile Club, and Polo Club of Paris, and the Country Club of Puteaux France. [3]


Related Research Articles

Franklin Edson

Franklin Edson was an American merchant who served as the 85th Mayor of New York from 1883 to 1884.

William Henry Vanderbilt

William Henry "Billy" Vanderbilt was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was the eldest son of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, an heir to his fortune and a prominent member of the Vanderbilt family. Vanderbilt became the richest American after he took over his father's fortune in 1877 until his own death in 1885, passing on a substantial part of the fortune to his wife and children, particularly to his sons Cornelius II and William. He inherited nearly $100 million from his father. The fortune had doubled when he died less than nine years later.

Monty Banks Italian comedian and director

Montague (Monty) Banks was an Italian comedian, film actor, director and producer who achieved success in the United Kingdom and in the US.

Albany (London)

The Albany, or simply Albany, is an apartment complex in Piccadilly, London. The three-storey mansion was built in the 1770s and divided into apartments in 1802.

Martin I. Townsend

Martin Ingham Townsend was an American lawyer and politician from New York.

Johnston de Peyster

Johnston Livingston de Peyster was a soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War and later a member of the New York State Assembly from Dutchess County, New York. The son of a wealthy old Dutchess County family, de Peyster joined the Union Army at the age of eighteen. He saw service in the eastern theater, and is best remembered for raising the first Union flag over the Confederate capitol of Richmond, Virginia, after its fall in 1865.

Salmagundi Club United States historic place

The Salmagundi Club, sometimes referred to as the Salmagundi Art Club, is a fine arts center founded in 1871 in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan, New York City. Since 1917, it has been located at 47 Fifth Avenue. As of 2014, its membership roster totals roughly 900 members.

Edward Livingston was an American attorney and politician. He served as Clerk and Speaker of the New York State Assembly.

Frederick Townsend

Frederick Townsend was a Union officer in the American Civil War. He founded and was Colonel of the 3rd New York Infantry Regiment, and later served with the US Army's 18th and 9th Infantry regiments, where he was brevetted a brigadier general. Townsend served three terms as Adjutant General of New York from 1857–1861, and again in 1880.

Howard Townsend American physician

Howard Townsend was a physician practicing in Albany, New York. He was a professor at the Albany Medical College and a member of the staff at the Albany Hospital.

Samuel Stevens Sands I was an American banker who served as the head of S.S. Sands & Co.

Bradley Martin

Bradley Martin was an American socialite known for giving the Bradley-Martin costume ball at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City on the night of February 10, 1897.

Mariette Leslie Cotton

Mariette Leslie Cotton (1866–1947) was an American artist who usually gave her name as Mrs. Leslie Cotton. A student of William Merritt Chase, Carolus-Duran, and Jean-Jacques Henner, she worked mainly in Paris but also maintained studios in London and New York. By birth and marriage she possessed a level of wealth and social prestige that, together with her artistic skill, enabled her to obtain lucrative commissions from prominent individuals. The portraits she painted were praised for their veracity, style, and fine technique. Their subjects included kings, aristocrats, celebrities, and members of wealthy families. Late in her career a critic wrote that her "popularity has a sound basis, for her portraits combine such abstract artistic qualities as effective and infinitely varied design and daringly unconventional arrangements of color, with strong characterization and a likeness that never fails to be convincing," and added, "her concern with the artistic problem never makes her obtrude her own personality or offend the sitter's susceptibilities."

I. Townsend Burden

Isaiah Townsend Burden was prominent American member of New York Society during the Gilded Age.

Benjamin Sumner Welles, Jr. was an American philanthropist who was a descendant of many prominent Colonial families.

Lewis Morris Rutherfurd Jr. was an American socialite and sportsman from New York known for breeding fox terrier dogs.

Richard Mortimer was an American real estate investor and society leader during the Gilded Age.

T. J. Oakley Rhinelander

Thomas Jackson Oakley Rhinelander was an American heir and real estate magnate who was prominent in New York Society during the Gilded Age.

Byam Kerby Stevens Jr. was an American banker who was prominent member of New York society during the Gilded Age.

Cornelia, Countess of Craven

Cornelia, Countess of Craven born Cornelia Martin was an American-born heiress who married into the British aristocracy and was known as one of the "Dollar Princesses." She was also a prominent art collector.


  1. 1 2 3 "Frederick Townsend Martin". Encyclopedia Americana. 1919. Retrieved 2008-12-14. Frederick Townsend Martin (b. 1849 in Albany NY; d. 1914 in London); graduated from Albany Law School; colonel in the New York National Guard; his writings included "The Passing of the Idle Rich" (1911) and "My Personal Experiences of Meeting Snobs" (1911). His older brother Bradley Martin (1841-1913) was a prominent banker.
  2. "New York Society Leader, Author, and Friend of the Poor a Victim of Heart Disease". New York Times . March 9, 1914. Retrieved 2008-12-14. Frederick Townsend Martin died suddenly of heart failure at 2:30 o'clock this morning at the Hotel Berkeley, where he had been staying with his brother Howard T. Martin. The body will be sent to America.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "F. T. Martin Dies Suddenly in London. New York Society Leader, Author, and Friend of the Poor a Victim of Heart Disease". New York Times . 9 March 1914. Retrieved 2 January 2009. Frederick Townsend Martin died suddenly of heart failure at 2:30 oclock this morning at the Hotel Berkeley, where he had been staying with his brother Howard T. Martin. The body will be sent to America.
  4. 1 2 "FUNERAL IN LONDON OF F. T. MARTIN; Society Leader's Body to be Shipped to the United States To-morrow". The New York Times . March 10, 1914. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  5. 1 2 Townsend (1865), James C.; Townsend (1871), Hon. Martin I.; Townsend (1875), Charles Hervey; Smith (1904), Hon. Issac Townsend; Townsend (1909, Madme. Giovanni Tagliapietra), Margaret (1909). Townsend--Townshend | 1066-1909 | The History, Genealogy and Alliances of The English and American House of Townsend. New York. p. 97. ISBN   9785870930930 . Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  6. "HENRY TOWNSEND MARTIN.; Brother of Late Bradley and F. T. Martin Dies in a Sanitarium". The New York Times . August 21, 1915. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  7. Agar, Herbert, The People's Choice, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1933, p. 248
  8. Martin, F. Townsend (June 25, 1911). "NOT SNOBBERY TO GO TO CORONATION"; Author of "The Idle Rich" Comments on the Americans Who Went to the Ceremonies and of Social Conditions at the New Court and Elsewhere Abroad". The New York Times . Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  9. "TOWNSEND MARTIN'S LITTLE PARTY IS OFF; The East Side, It Seems, Didn't Want to Rent Him a Hall to Teach It Hygiene. SOCIALIST ORATOR BOLTED So the Germs Will Have to Continue to Flutter Over There -- And Nordica Won't Sing -- Dinner Still On". The New York Times . February 13, 1909. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  10. 1 2 "LEASES HOUSE IN LONDON.; F.T. Martin to Install Art Collection Bequeathed by Henry Sands". The New York Times . February 7, 1914. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  11. "MARTIN COLLECTION FOR METROPOLITAN; Society Leader Leaves Armor and Engravings to Art Museum Here". The New York Times . March 28, 1914. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  12. "MAY TAX MARTIN ESTATE.; Court of Appeals Dismisses the Executor's Appeal". The New York Times . October 18, 1916. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  13. "MARTIN FUNERAL SIMPLE.; Only About 30 Friends Attend London Church Services". The New York Times . March 11, 1914. Retrieved 19 April 2017.