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Geoffrey Haward Martin
Born September 27, 1928(1928-09-27)
Died December 20, 2007 (aged 79)
Nationality British
Occupation Historian, archivist
Known for Historian, Keeper of Public Records
Title Keeper of Public Records
Term 1982-1988
Spouse(s) Janet Douglas Hamer (1953 - death)

Professor Geoffrey Haward Matin CBE (27 September 1928 - 20 December 2007) was a respected academic, historian and from 1982 until 1988 Keeper of Public Records.[1]


Early life

Geoffrey Haward Martin was born in Essex, September 27, 1928.[1] He was schooled at Colchester Royal Grammar School,[2] where he published a history of the school in the school magazine, The Colcestrian, before reprinting it as a separate volume, The history of Colchester Royal Grammar School, 1539-1947, published by the Borough of Colchester.[3]

In 1947 he went to Merton College, Oxford, to read history, specialising in Richard II and John of Gaunt. Soon after he published his PhD on the medieval history of Ipswich.[1]

Academic career

Having completed research at the University of Manchester during 1952, Martin joined Leicester University as a lecturer in economic history. Whilst at Leicester, he was a Reader in History, 1966–73, a Public Orator, 1971–74, and a Professor of History, 1973-82. He was also for a term (1975–80) head of the university's history department and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, 1979-82.[2] He was a visiting professor at Carleton University, Ottawa, for the years 1958-59 and 1967-68.[1]

In 1971 he returned to Merton College, where he had studied for his PhD, as a visiting research Fellow and in 1990 became a senior research Fellow. In 1997 Martin and his former Oxford tutor Dr Roger Highfield published the first official history of the college, A History of Merton.[1][2]

Appointment as Keeper of the Public Records

In May 1982 Martin was appointed Keeper of the Public Records at the Public Record Office (PRO). For the International Council on Archives, he was a member of the executive committee between 1984 and 1988, and also played a leading role in the formation of the Association of Commonwealth Archivists in 1984, serving as its first chairman. In 1985 he led the first official delegation of British archivists to China, and he often represented the PRO overseas.[1]

He also ensured that the 900th anniversary of Domesday Book in 1986 was celebrated with a major public exhibition, held at Chancery Lane in the former Rolls Chapel. It was a great success, linking sound scholarship with the use of the then new technology of ‘talking heads’.[2]

He remains the only career academic who has ever had charge of the national archives, and later felt obliged to criticise the appointment of another head of the archives who he considered to be unsuitable for the job.[2]

Later life and death

Within the UK he was chairman of the council of the British Records Association from 1982 until 1991. Later he became one of its vice-presidents, and a vice-president of the Royal Historical Society between 1984 and 1988. He was appointed CBE in 1986.[1]

After his retirement Martin was appointed to a research chair at the University of Essex, where he taught on the Second World War.[1]

Through his wife, Martin had developed an attachment to the Lake District. In 1969 they bought a house there and, when illness eventually reduced his activities during 2003, it was to where he retired. He was also president of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 1999-2002. He died on December 20, 2007, aged 79.[1]




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