Martin Family Tree

Compiled by Fred Martin

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Bologna or Venice?

Why Venice?

  • Two books, containing information gained from different sources¹, give similar accounts of Gasparo's Venetian origins, which suggests that this information came originally from Gasparo himself.
  • A Grimani family tree, drawn up by a professional genealogist in 1903, shows Gasparo's connection with the Venetian family.
  • In 1773 Gasparo and his (first) wife were godparents at a christening in the Venetian Chapel in London.

Why not Venice?

  • Despite detailed research of Venice archives and literature by Victor New and others, not a single reference to Gasparo Grimani has been found.
  • Gasparo is not a Venetian name.  Victor New did not find a single example of the name in all his reading.
  • There are problems with the tree drawn up by Gladwin Cloves Cave, genealogist, in 1903:

    The tree appears to show Gasparo's father as Piero Giuglio, born 1724, but Gasparo was born 1729/30.

    Details of Gladwin Cloves Cave's life² cast doubt on whether we can rely on his tree as being the result of genuine research.
  • In her book 'Among the Sons of Han' (1881) Mrs Thomas Francis Hughes (Gasparo's granddaughter, Julia) briefly mentions Venice, including the doges' palace, as part her sightseeing tour of Italy on her return journey from China.  She clearly had no knowledge of any family connection with Venice.

  • The two books which tell of Gasparo's Venetian origins were written by descendants of his many years after his death and are based on stories handed down to them.³

Why Bologna?

  • At the baptism of his daughter in Livorno in 1763, Gasparo gave his father's name as Eustachio Grimani of Bologna.
  • In his appeal to the Pope (about 1779) he calls himself a citizen of Bologna.
  • Eustachio Gaspare Grimani was born in Bologna in 1729, the same year as Gasparo was born.
  • According to Sir Edmund Hornby, Gasparo's first wife (Antonia Fabbri) was his second cousin, and according to the baptism entry for their daughter, her father was from Lyon.   Eustachio's mother's surname was also Fabbri and she was French.
  • According to Gasparo's appeal, he was a member of the Celestine Congregation at 16, but apostatized 10 years later.  Ignazio Leopoldo Melchiorre Grimani (Eustachio's father) had a son who became a Celestine monk and apostatized his religion.

Why not Bologna?

  • Eustachio Gaspare Grimani's father was not called Eustachio.
  • It would mean that much of what Gasparo told his wife and children about his early life was pure fiction⁴.


¹ Julian Young's account is based on anecdotes told by his grandmother, Gasparo's widow, to her daughter.  Sir Edmund Hornby's information came from his grandfather, William Grimani (Gasparo's son by his first marriage), though there was definitely some contact between the two branches of the family.

² Gladwin Cloves Cave's occupation was given as 'gentleman' (1871), 'merchant' (1881), 'no occupation' (1889), 'commission agent' (1891) and 'genealogist' (1901).   He made several attempts to claim ownership of the Newburgh estates (in Derbyshire, Sussex, Gloucestershire and Northumberland) worth nearly £4 million, but did not succeed and, unable to pay the legal costs, was declared bankrupt, from which he was not discharged until 1907.  In 1902 he tried to recover an unpaid fee of £65 for genealogy work, the defendant claiming that he did not instruct the work.

³ Sir Edmund Hornby's version should be the more reliable of the two, as William was already in his twenties when his father remarried, but his account is brief and contains several details which have been found to be untrue.  Sir Edmund was only 17 when his grandfather died and did not write his autobiography until much later in life.  Young's version is much fuller but came to him third hand from Gasparo's widow who only knew her husband from the age of 52.

Much of what Gasparo claimed in adverts for his models and in his publications is without foundation - that he taught French and Italian at Eton College, that he was allowed to use the library at Windsor castle, that he was a member of the Freemasons, a professor of mathematics, a physics teacher and a civil and military architect. None of the establishments that would hold records of these have been able to confirm any of them.