Madan, Martin

Evangelical Anglican clergyman, born on 5 October 1725 in London. His brother Spencer Madan (1729-1813) became bishop of Peterborough in 1793. Their mother, Judith Madan (1702-1781), was aunt of the poet William Cowper and herself a poet. From c.1749 she was associated with the Wesleys and the Countess of Huntingdon.

Educated, like Charles Wesley, at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, Martin was called to the Bar in 1748. He was converted by going to hear John Wesley preach in order to mimic him. Through the influence of the Countess of Huntingdon he was ordained, despite his Methodist associations. He often preached in her chapels and stood in for John Berridge at Everton, Beds. In 1757 Wesley's commendation led to his appointment as curate at Lakenheath and through William Romaine he obtained the living of All Hallows, Lombard Street, London.

He was an eccentric and controversial figure, though in 1768 Wesley declared that 'His strangeness is now gone.' As chaplain at the Lock Hospital (for penitent prostitutes), Hyde Park Corner, in 1780 he published Thelypthora, subtitled 'a treatise of female ruin'. Its advocacy of polygamy (on biblical grounds) raised a storm of controversy, and was answered, inter alia by Joseph Benson, in the Arminian Magazine for 1783.

He was musically gifted, wrote hymns and hymn tunes, and published A Collection of Psalms and Hymn-tunes (1760). Some of his alterations to Charles Wesley's hymns have become the accepted text, e.g. 'Once He died, our souls to save' (replacing 'Dying once, He all doth save'), illustrating his Calvinistic modification of the Wesleys' Arminianism. His tune 'Hotham' was once popular as the setting for 'Jesu, lover of my soul'.

He died at Epsom on 2 May 1790.

  • John Wesley, Journal
  • Falconer Madan, The Madan Family, … a historical account (Oxford, 1933), pp.77-103
  • Oxford DNB