ISBuC (v7) 2012
Martin Martin
'Pass the sod'

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Born in Skye, Martin graduated MA in Edinburgh in 1681. In 1710 he began studying at Leyden where he eventually qualified MD but after that time there is no record of him practising medicine. He spent some years as a tutor to the MacLeods of Dunvegan.

He is best remembered for his book 'Description of the Western Isles of Scotland' published in 1703, said to be the first written about this area.

A particularly interesting and amusing section deals with the problems of going to the toilet whilst in a fishing boat. Sailors 'who could never ease Nature at Sea by Stool, or Urine' became desperate men after hours at sea. According to Martin the solution involved having a piece of turf on which to stand when the call of nature beckoned.

Both Boswell & Johnson had read his book and took a copy of it along with them on their famous tour in 1773. Johnson felt Martin had failed to record the more interesting aspects of life at the time. He though this was due to Martin being unaware of just how different the social structure of the Western Isles was in comparison to the modern world. Martin Martin died unmarried in London.