Robert Francis Martineau
Robert Francis Martineau known to his family and friends as Frank-
He was the favourite nephew of the internationally famous journalist, author, economist, social scientist and propagandist for liberal progressive causes including anti-
His first appearance in public life seems to have been in 1862 when he was the Secretary of the local fund for relief of Lancashire cotton workers who as a consequence of the American Civil War were in severe distress. The workers, like Frank, had an anti-
He saw long service on the Public Health Committee, involved in such issues as the clearance of the unsanitary Park Street Burial Ground and as a Trustee of Mason’s College the collegiate forerunner of Birmingham University. He was also Chairman of the Technical School Committee and saw the Midland Institute as his “second home” where he supported the teaching of science. With his sister Susan he was involved in Birmingham’s Homeopathic Hospital and served as its Secretary. Frank Martineau’s strong liberal convictions can be seen in his support of Josephine Butler, the Suffragist and campaigner against child prostitution and then as a critic of the conduct of the Boer War when he opposed the granting of the Freedom of the City of Birmingham to Lord Roberts the Commander of the British forces in South Africa.
When Joseph Chamberlain’s pro-
Robert Francis Martineau
Born 16th May 1831, Birmingham
Died 15th December 1909, Birmingham
Farther Robert, Mother June
Brother Thomas and sister Sarah
Worked in his father’s brass founding business
Robert Francis known as Frank to his friends and family, was a member of the Birmingham branch of the remarkable Martineau family, inspired by faith, provided from 1840’s to 1980’sa continued commitment to public service and social reform.
Frank was educated at Edgbaston Proprietary School which was founded by his father (Robert) y
After leaving school he worked in his father’s brass founding business and by the age of 21 was travelling for the firm.
At about the age of 30 he was secretary of the fund set up in Birmingham for the relief of sufferers in Lancashire cotton famine in 1862, Largely because of a leaflet he wrote the Birmingham fund was a great success, raising a surplus of £6,000, equivalent to about £650,00 in today's value
1869 was chairman and one of the honorary secretaries of the Birmingham branch of National Education League which contained till 1876 when school attendance was made compulsory.
In 1874 was elected to the borough council, later the City Council, in 1900 he was elected Alderman. His principal involvements were with the Health Committee and the Education Committee.
On the health committee he protested vigorously against the unhygienic state of disused Park Street burial ground. He urged the council to buy it for recreation purposes. When the government brought in a bill to deal with such cases (it was so bad) it was thrown out by the house of Lords.
Frank then set about promoting a private bill, which was successfully passed resulting in over 20 disused burial grounds in Birmingham being converted to space for recreation.
On the education committee was 1st chairman of the technical school sub committee. He was closely involved with the Midland Institute, (called it his 2nd home) serving as junior vice president in 1880-
He never married. He seems to have been held in genuine affection by his contemporaries and at his death was described ‘A shy and modest gentleman’