Large pearlware mug made to commemorate the jailing of Jonathan Martin the Incendiary of York Minster in 1829

This mug was made for the Hirst Family of Whitley a town just south of York in Yorkshire. Jonathan Martin (1782 – 3 June 1838) was an English arsonist, famous for setting fire to York Minster in 1829. In 1829, Martin had another mental breakdown. On Sunday 1 February 1829, he became upset by a buzzing sound in the organ while attending evensong at York Minster. He hid in the building, and then lit a lamp in the belltower. The cathedral watchman had been discharged, and the light was ignored by anyone who saw it. Later that night, he set fire to the woodwork in the choir before escaping through a window. Smoke was seen coming out of the building at 7am on 2 February, and the fire was raging through the organ and choir by 8am. The fire was brought under control that afternoon and extinguished on 3 February, when the extent of the damage became apparent. A section of the roof of the central aisle approximately 131 foot (40 m) long was destroyed, stretching from the lantern tower towards the east window, together with much of the internal woodwork from the organ screen to the altar screen, including the organ, medieval choir stalls, the bishop’s throne, and the pulpit. The cause – arson – soon became apparent, and the culprit was identified from threatening placards Martin had left on the Minster railings in previous days, including his initials and address.Martin was captured near Hexham on 6 February. He was tried at York Castle in March 1829, before Baron Hullock and a jury. The case was a national cause célèbre, coming only two months after the trials of Burke and Hare in Edinburgh. Martin was defended by Henry Brougham, who had gained notoriety for defending Queen Caroline in 1821. Despite the jury ruling that he was guilty on a capital charge, which should have resulted in a death sentence, the judge declared him not guilty on the grounds of insanity. He was detained in Bethlem Royal Hospital, where he remained until he died 9 years later. During this period of detention, he made a number of drawings, including self-portraits and an apocalyptic picture of the destruction of London. His son, Richard, from his first marriage, was brought up by Jonathan’s brother John. Richard committed suicide in September 1838, three months after his father’s death.

Height: 4 ⅞” Diameter: 5″

Condition: Two cracks restored