Sailing the High Seas: John Martell and the War of 1812


Greenwich Hospital Out-Pensioner Application, John Martell, n.d. Henry Wood Booth Papers.


Petition for Pension, John Martell Jr., 1875. Henry Wood Booth Papers.

George Gough Booth’s maternal great-grandfather was John Martell  (1791-1836), a purser in the British Royal Navy.  Martell served on the HMS Aeolus, a 32-gun frigate, which was part of a flotilla of five ships charged with patrolling the waters between New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia during the War of 1812.  On July 16, 1812, the Aeolus was part of the squadron that gave chase to the USS Constitution, which finally managed to escape and sail safely to Boston.  After the war, Martell spent several years stationed first at Isle-aux-Noix in Quebec, a key ship-building center for the British at Lake Champlain.  He was a clerk in the dock yards at the Kingston Royal Naval Yard in Ontario, and was a store porter at the Grand River Naval Depot (Port Maitland) on Lake Erie until his discharge in 1832. Martell and his wife Mary (nee O’Keefe) then resided in St. Catherines, Ontario where Martell served as the first Postmaster and the first division court clerk.  John Martell died in 1836.

Leslie E. Edwards, Head Archivist

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