Martin Madan

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Martin Madan
File:Martin Madan by Thomas Kitchin.jpg
Born 1726
Died 2 May 1790(1790-05-02)
Nationality British
Occupation Clergy
Known for Thelyphthora, or A Treatise on Female Ruin

Martin Madan (1726 – 2 May 1790) was an English barrister, clergyman and writer, known for controversial views on marriage expressed in his book Thelyphthora.


He was the son of Judith Madan the poet, and Colonel Martin Madan, and was educated at Westminster School, and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated in 1746. In 1748 he was called to the bar, and for some time lived a very uninhibited life. He was persuaded to change his ways on hearing a sermon by John Wesley. He took holy orders, and was appointed chaplain to the London Lock Hospital. He was closely connected with the Calvinistic Methodist movement supported by the Countess of Huntingdon, and from time to time acted as an itinerant preacher. He was a first cousin of the poet William Cowper, with whom he had some correspondence on religious matters.

In 1767, much adverse comment was aroused by his support of his friend Thomas Haweis in a controversy arising out of the latter's possession of the living of Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire. Madan resigned his chaplainship and retired to Epsom.


In 1760 Martin Madan published for the Lock Hospital a collection of Psalms and Hymns extracted from various Authors, and in 1769 supplemented it by the issue of A Collection of Psalms and Hymn Tunes, many of the tunes in which came into general use.[1] In 1780, Madan raised a storm of opposition by the publication of his Thelyphthora, or A Treatise on Female Ruin, in which he advocated polygamy as the remedy for evils he deplored. His arguments were based mainly on scriptural authority; but his book caused many angry replies. Amongst them was 'Anti-Thelyphthora' by his first cousin, the poet William Cowper, which he published anonymously. A fictional account of this event can be read in The Winner of Sorrow, a 2005 novel about the poet by Brian Lynch.

Nineteen attacks on Madan's treatise are catalogued by Falconer Madan in the Dictionary of National Biography.[2]

Among other works was A New and Literal Translation of Juvenal and Persius (1789).

See also


  1. James Moffatt, Handbook to the Church Hymnary, Oxford University Press, 1927, p. 404
  2. Among those, many of which were anonymous were: magazine articles by Samuel Badcock in the Monthly Review; ‘Polygamy Indefensible, two Sermons by John Smith of Nantwich,’ 1780; ‘Polygamy Unscriptural, or two Dialogues, by John Towers,’ 1780 (2nd edit. 1781); ‘Whispers for the Ear of the Author of “Thelyphthora,” by E. B. Greene,’ 1781; ‘A Scriptural Refutation of the Arguments for Polygamy,’ Thomas Haweis, 1781; ‘The Blessings of Polygamy displayed,’ and ‘The Cobler's Letter to the Author of Thelyphthora,’ 1781, both by Sir Richard Hill; ‘Remarks on Polygamy,’ 1781 by Thomas Wills (written at the request of Lady Huntingdon); ‘Anti-Thelyphthora, a Tale in Verse’ by William Cowper, 1781, &c.; ‘A Word to Mr. Madan’ by Henry Moore, 1781 (2nd edit. same year); ‘An Examination of Thelyphthora, by John Palmer,’ 1781; ‘Remarks on Thelyphthora by James Penn’ (1781); and ‘Thoughts on Polygamy’, by James Cookson, 1782. Dictionary of National Biography, Madan, Martin (1726–1790), author of ‘Thelyphthora,’, by Falconer Madan. Published 1893.

External links


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1893). [ "Madan, Martin" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>