James Martin

James Martin was the second of the six children of Robert Martin and his wife Avis Tall of Little Downham, Cambridgeshire, England.

When James was about 12 years old, his father, and then his older brother both died. The following year, his widowed mother remarried to James Wisbey, who was also of Little Downham.

James married Mary Ann Moxon in 1841, the day after the Census, and the couple soon settled down to become parents - although their first child, Kezia was born prematurely (it's not clear by how much), and died when she was just 9 hours old. Sadly, the bad luck was to continue, with each of their next six children dying in infancy. This culminates in the death of Mary herself, just a few weeks after the birth of their final child, John. He follows his mother to the grave just a couple of weeks later, at the age of 7 weeks. Mary was 33.

With four of his five siblings, his father, his wife, and seven children, all dead by the time he was 35 years old, it's no surprise that he needed a fresh start, and within 2 months he had re-married to widow Mary Crisp (née Tingey) of Little Downham.

James and his new wife went on to have five children, but only one of these (the oldest - James) survived into adulthood. Two died due to Tuberculosis (T.B. or 'consumption' as it often appears), and two from Scarlet Fever.

Despite surviving all but one of his children, James was killed, aged 53, in an accident whilst working as a Railway Platelayer for the Great Eastern Railway (GER). He was working near to the Black Bank Station (close to his home) when he was hit by a Goods Engine whilst two trains passed eachother on the L22 line.

An inquest determined on the following day, that at 'about six o'clock, while employed on the line, two trains met, and he was on the down line, a train killed him on the spot'.

A verdict of 'accidental death' was given. After James' death, his widow re-married for her third time, to Matthew Watling.

James' life was nothing less than a tragedy.

Life Events


  • circa 1814 in Coveney, Cambridgeshire, England.


  • 3rd April 1814 at St. Peter-ad-Vincula Church, Coveney, Cambridgeshire, England.


  • Mary Ann Moxon (1816-1850) on 7th June 1841 at St. Leonard's Church, Little Downham, Cambridgeshire, England.
  • Mary Tingey (1820-1883) on 27th July 1850 at The Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel, Oxlode, Cambridgeshire, England.


Census and Residence

  • 1841: 20yrs, Main Street, Littleport, Cambridgeshire, England.
  • 1851: 35yrs, Wicken, Cambridgeshire, England.
  • 1861: 46yrs, Second Drove Rail, Little Downham, Cambridgeshire, England.


  • 1841-1851: Agricultural Labourer
  • 1861: Rail Road Labourer for Great Eastern Railway (GER) at Second Drove, Little Downham.


  • 20th October 1868 on Railway Line L22 near Black Bank Station, Little Downham, Cambridgeshire, England. Cause of death: 'Accidentally struck by buffer while at work on the line'.


  • 24th October 1868 at Little Downham, Cambridgeshire, England.



  • Robert Martin (17??-?)
  • Elizabeth Mendham (17??-?)
  • William Tall (1764-?)
  • Esther James (17??-?)

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