Welcome to Martinalia.

An academic career generates material which for one reason or another does not get into print. There are public lectures and keynote addresses. Some are never intended for publication. Others are commissioned for projects which never get off the ground. There is material prepared for teaching, which may be useful to colleagues and students involved in similar courses. Some projects seem worth sharing with interested readers (if any such people exist) even though they remain unfinished, lacking the final polish needed for conventional academic publication.

The term “Martinalia” was coined by my friend Jim Sturgis.  

Magdalene College Cambridge and the First World War


Although Magdalene was one of the smallest colleges in the University of Cambridge, more than fifty of its members died during the 1914-18 War. This exploratory essay seeks to rediscover the participants in the conflict, and to assess the impact of the War upon the College.    

Modified 7 July 2015

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Father Michael O'Donel: The Newfoundland Adventures of a Clashmore County Waterford Parish Priest

The links between Newfoundland and Ireland's County Waterford are well known, but attention usually focuses on Waterford City and its hinterland in Kilkenny and Wexford. However, west Waterford also had strong Newfoundland links, thanks to the fishing port of Youghal in nearby County Cork. The parish priest of Clashmore from 1815 to 1832, Fr Michael O'Donel, had served in Newfoundland with his uncle, who was the island's first Catholic bishop. Another Clashmore man travelled in the opposite direction, and political abuse of St John's merchant Laurence O'Brien can even help us identify the Blackwater quays from which he left 200 years ago.

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Waterford and the South-East of Ireland, some links with Australia

According to Fáilte Ireland, the country's national tourism authority, in 2008, 224,000 Australians visited Ireland either on business or on holiday.

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Michael Augustus Gathercole (c. 1802 - 1886 ) Controversial Anglican Cleric

The Reverend Michael Augustus Gathercole was Vicar of the Cambridgeshire town of Chatteris for over thirty years, from 1845 to 1877. Raised in the Congregationalist Church, he turned his back on Nonconformity, became a clergyman of the Church of England and vigorously denounced his former associates. A combative and litigious personality, he was a central participant in five major court cases, twice stood trial on criminal charges and once served three months in prison for criminal libel. In 1845, Gathercole became Vicar of Chatteris,in the Isle of Ely, having borrowed a large sum of money in order to buy the right to appoint himself. Unfortunately, he was unable to repay the loan and, within ten years, he was effectively bankrupt. Although most of his income was diverted to repayment of his debt, Gathercole was allowed to retain his job but retained only a small fraction of his previous income. During his first years in Chatteris, he had engaged in well-publicised confrontations with his parishioners. The humiliation of his financial disgrace seems to have persuaded him to keep a low profile in subsequent decades. He retired in 1877 and died in 1886.

This reconstruction of the career of a fiery Victorian clergyman is based on Gathercole's published writings, and on reports of his controversial activities in the national press. 

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Manitoba DoJ Report

In 2002, The Department of Justice, Government of Canada commissioned a historical report on the intentions of the British government regarding the transfer of the Red River to the Dominion of Canada in 1869-71. The report focused on an argument associated with the case of the Manitoba Metis Federation et al. versus the Attorneys-General of Manitoba and Canada. The argument was that, by passing the British North America Act of 1871, the imperial parliament at Westminster had incorporated the terms of the Dominion's 1870 Manitoba Act as a fundamental part of Canada's constitution. With the able help of the London-based historical researcher Judy Collingwood, this interesting question permitted a re-examination of the British role in the founding of Manitoba.


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The Battle of Britain: Notes on the Origin of the Name

The Battle of Britain of 1940 remains an inspirational episode that proved to be a turning point at a moment of desperate danger in the war against Hitler. Oddly enough, the story of the naming of the conflict seems to have dropped from sight. Not until March 1941, six months after the climax of the air battles, did the clash between the RAF and the Luftwaffe become definitively known as the Battle of Britain.

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Waterford: Ireland's Canada County

Tourism Ireland reports that 96,000 Canadians visited the island of Ireland in 2006. Of these, 43 percent were on holiday. Just over half of the holidaymakers (52 percent) stayed for more than 9 nights. Although 40 percent of Canadian tourists reported visiting Ireland's South East region, only 9 percent used hotel accommodation. This report argues that Waterford has a strong claim to be regarded as Ireland's Canada County.

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East Cork's Australian Heritage Trail

Fáilte Ireland, the country's national tourism authority, reports that in 2008, 224,000 Australians came to Ireland either on business or as holidaymakers. This account of East Cork connections with Australia was compiled as a contribution to a possible tourism leaflet to encourage Australian visitors to explore the area.

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Punch's Fancy Portraits: A Handlist

Between 1880 and 1889, cartoonist Linley Sambourne contributed almost 200 cartoons of contemporary personalities to the London magazine Punch, in a format called "Fancy Portraits". The Handlist identifies the individuals illustrated.

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Winston Churchill : Wartime Traveller (revised, 2018)

This essay was written in the early 1990s as part of preparatory work for a project on Churchill. It is based largely on Martin Gilbert's magisterial biography and Churchill's own writings on the Second World War. It is included among Martinalia because the many studies of Churchill as a war leader do not seem to focus precisely upon the effect of his love of travel. Revised version October 2018.

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