• Full Name:
    Richard Joseph Henry Martin
  • Role:
  • Occupation/s:
  • State:
    Western Australia
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)


[1841 - 1912]


Richard Joseph Henry Martin was born in London, England, on 8 July, 1841 and was baptised on 2 June, 1844 at St Giles Without Cripplegate. He was the son of Richard Joseph Martin and his wife Eliza. According to the 1851 census, Richard senior was a master book binder, employing several staff.


According to the 1861 English census, RJH Martin, age 20, was a boarder at the home of retired hotel keeper, Annie Norrison at Southampton Street, Camberwell, Surrey. His occupation was recorded as being "Commercial clerk, Australian". Presumably this meant that he was working as a clerk for a company which had dealings with Australia.


Probably because of his links with Australia, at age 22 Richard decided to emigrate, travelling aboard the "Norfolk" which departed from Plymouth on 28 May, 1863, arriving in Melbourne on 8 August. According to newspaper reports of the time, the Norfolk was considered to have accomplished the passage from Plymouth in a short space of time - 71 days - having crossed the equator on 20 June.


RJH Martin first appeared in the Melbourne post office directory of 1867, his address being 90 Collins Street East, of Edward G. Gould & Co, the homœopathic chemists. By 1868 he had formed a partnership with Mr Gould and his listing in the directory was stated as being "of Gould & Martin".


Over time, Mr Martin owned and managed two homœopathic pharmacies:


His first pharmacy operated under the name of Gould & Martin, then Martin & Co., which eventually became Martin & Pleasance.


After the partnership between Mr Martin and Mr Pleasance was dissolved in 1886, Richard moved to Perth, Western Australia where he established his second homœopathic pharmacy under the name Martin & Co.


In 1874 Richard Martin married Phoebe Elizabeth Iliffe, daughter of Francis Iliffe, Richard's next-door neighbour at 92 Collins Street East.


Richard Martin and his wife lived the rest of their married life in Perth. They returned for a visit to Melbourne in February 1903. According to the 1910 electoral roll, Richard and Phoebe were living at "Wyuna", Grosvenor Road, North Perth, which was on the corner of Lake Street. His occupation was listed as "gentleman". Phoebe died 1911.


In 1912 Richard decided to return to England to live. Consequently, he booked a passage aboard the ship "Osterley" which departed Fremantle on 23 April, 1912. According to shipping records, he travelled alone, and his intended future permanent residence was England.


This particular journey of the R.M.S. Osterley was well-reported, as it was the ship which carried Australia's Olympic team to England for the 1912 Olympic Games which were to be held in Stockholm. By the time the ship reached Fremantle, it had already picked up athletes from the eastern States, including the "Olympic eight" rowing crew from New South Wales and their boat, Miss Fanny Durack (Australia's famous female swimmer) and four other members of the swimming team, four athletes, and a wrestler. This "great team of athletes", plus four team officials and the possibility of a small number of other Australians already present in England who might join the team, was considered to be "a strong one" and "quite a formidable party".


However, when the Osterley arrived at Tilbury Dock, there was a waterside workers' strike. According to the report of the time:


The ranks of the strikers were added to today when the stewards and some of the crew of the R.M.S. Osterley went out, demanding better ventilated quarters and more lifeboats. In consequence, the passengers were obliged to handle their own luggage.


The ship arrived at Tilbury on 27 May, 1912. The date is significant in this account of  Richard Joseph Henry Martin, as he died at Tilbury the following day, on 28 May, 1912. He was aged nearly 71. It is quite possible that the stress and exhaustion of the voyage, followed by the need to carry his own luggage, may have contributed to his death.


© Barbara Armstrong


  • Created:
    Sunday, 01 March 2009
  • Last modified:
    Sunday, 10 August 2014