Martin, Richard (c.1604–c.1659), lawyer and politician, belonged to one of the élite families of Galway who had controlled the city since medieval times. The eldest son of Oliver Martin, who was deprived of the mayoralty in 1632 for refusing to take the oath of supremacy, Richard inherited substantial lands in Galway, as well as acquiring estates in Mayo and Roscommon. His marriage to Margaret, daughter of Sir Peter French, meant that both Patrick Darcy (qv) and Roebuck Lynch (qv), leading Galway lawyers, were his brothers-in-law. Educated at Middle Temple until 1629, he returned to Ireland and became a member of the King's Inns the following year. A prominent lawyer on the national stage, he was permanently retained by Richard Boyle, earl of Cork (qv), and Richard Burke (qv), 4th earl of Clanricarde, and was highly regarded by the lord deputy, Thomas Wentworth (qv).
Elected to the 1634 parliament for the borough of Athenry, he soon emerged as one of the catholic leaders in the commons. In late 1635 he travelled to England with Patrick Darcy to protest to the king against Wentworth's plantation policies in Connacht. The mission failed; Martin went into hiding, but was arrested and sent back to Dublin. Wentworth, furious at this attempt to circumvent his authority, imprisoned Martin and had him disbarred for refusing to take the oath of supremacy. The intervention of powerful supporters (principally Randal MacDonnell (qv), 2nd earl of Antrim) secured his release in May 1636, and shortly afterwards he was permitted to resume his legal career. Martin represented the Clare freeholders who acknowledged the king's title in the county, thus clearing the way for plantation, and temporarily restoring his reputation with Wentworth. When a new parliament met in 1640 he began once again to work against the lord deputy's interests. His return for the Co. Tyrone borough of Augher in a by-election in July 1641 was probably due to the desire of parliamentary members to have the top legal figures in the country present in the commons. Martin went back to Galway after the outbreak of the Ulster rebellion (October 1641), and a number of deponents later accused him of fomenting trouble in the city. He served on the Council of Eight which governed the city in early 1642, and reluctantly accepted the position of mayor in 1643. Martin's close links with Ulick Burke (qv), 5th earl of Clanricarde, the leading catholic loyalist, suggests a moderate political outlook, and he assisted the earl's efforts at mediation between the catholic insurgents and the king in early 1642. In October 1642 he attended the first confederate general assembly in Kilkenny, and, together with Darcy, drew up a constitution or ‘model of government’. He sat on the confederate provincial council in Connacht for much of the 1640s, but (in deference to Clanricarde) refused a position in the central government until his appointment to the confederate judiciary in August 1644, along with John Burke (qv), bishop of Clonfert, and John Walsh (qv). Earlier that year Martin had visited the royal court at Oxford, as part of a confederate delegation, led by Donough MacCarthy (qv), 2nd Viscount Muskerry. Nothing was resolved at these talks, and negotiations resumed a few months later in Dublin, with the lord lieutenant, James Butler (qv), marquess of Ormond, representing the king. The general assembly elected Martin as one of the commissioners of treaty, but for the remainder of the 1640s he concentrated principally on legal matters. In early 1651 he accompanied Hugh Rochford (qv) and Bishop Nicholas French (qv) of Ferns on a mission to secure military assistance from the duke of Lorraine. Little is known of his whereabouts afterwards, but he almost certainly died sometime before the restoration of Charles II in 1660.