Martyn, Sir Richard

Martyn, Sir Richard
SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
b. 1543
d. July 1617
English goldsmith, Warden and later Master of the Royal Mint, entrepreneur and shareholder in Elizabethan metal industries.
Martyn became a leading shareholder in the Company of Mineral and Battery Works, the Elizabethan monopoly established in 1565 under the initiative William Humfrey. Its purpose was to mine lead and zinc ores and to introduce production of brass and manufacture of brass wire to England, activities in which he took an active interest. Appointed Warden of the Royal Mint in 1572, Martyn's responsibilities included the receipt of bullion and dispatch of freshly minted coins. He reported unfavourably on a new invention for producing "milled" coins by a screw press which embossed the two faces simultaneously. Considerable friction arose from his criticism of the then Master of the Mint. He was later subject to criticism himself on the irregularity of coin weights produced at the Mint. In 1580 Martyn leased Tintern wireworks, property of the Mineral and Battery Company, which was by then producing iron wire after earlier failing in the production of brass. Two years later he sought rights from the company to mine the zinc ore calamine and to make brass. When this was granted in 1587, he formed a partnership with others including William Brode, a London goldsmith who had been experimenting with the making of brass. Production started on a small scale using imported copper at Queen's Mill, Isleworth, largely financed by Martyn. Brode soon disagreed with his partners and with the Mineral and Battery Works Company and Martyn withdrew. After long and acrimonious disputes the works closed completely in 1605.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Alderman 1578. Knighted and appointed Lord Mayor of London 1589. Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths' Company 1592. Joint Master of the Mint with his son, Richard, 1599.
Further Reading
M.B.Donald, 1961, Elizabethan Monopolies, London: Oliver \& Boyd (provides a comprehensive account).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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