Maj.Gen. Claude Martin, his philonthrophy and La Martinière institutions - 1800s in India, a brief note

Claude Martin, a self-made man, (January,1735 to September,1800) was born  in Lyon,France on 4 January, 1735. With a humble family background, he came to India when he was only 17 and served in the French East India Company under 

Maj. Gen.Claude Martin,
Commander and Governor J.F. Dupleix  and General Lally in the Carnatic wars in south India against the British East India company. After the French influence declined in India in the late 1700s and, following a spell in British custody after a military defeat, he accepted a commission in the British East India Company's army and rose to the rank of Major-General. After taking up residence in Lucknow, India, he again switched allegiance and occupied an important position in the court of Nawob Shuja-ud-Daula and later his son, Asaf-ud-Daula. Both he and the Nawob were the chief architects of the city of Lucknow, now the capital of Uttar Pradesh. The buildings  such as Raj Bhavan (now official residence of the Governor, previously called Kothi Hayat Baksh), Asif Kothi, Bibiapur, Barowen and the Constantia bear testimony to Martin's distinctive style of designing. 

Contantia- Claude Martin's residence,Lucknow,India

During this period he is estimated to have saved a fortune of about Rs.40,00,000.00. With the money acquired, he built the palace of 'Constantia' and his house named Farhat Baksh, both of which he equipped with luxuries that included a library of some 4,000 volumes written in many languages and a picture gallery that included lots of  wonderful paintings.

He died in Lucknow on 13 September 1800. He was unmarried and had no legal heirs to his estate. As per his will, he was buried in the vault prepared for his mortal remains in the basement of the college in Lucknow. The major portion of his savings  and estate were left for founding three institutions, one each in Lucknow and Calcutta and his birthplace Lyon, France.

Martin with Antoine and Wombwell,Lucknow,
It took 30 years to dispose of the litigation arising out of Claude Martin's will. Finally, as the result of a supreme court decision, La Martinière Schools opened in Calcutta, on 1 March,1836.
postal stamp of La Martinière schools and Martin,
La Martinière Calcutta has two separate single-sex schools in Calcutta, India for students aged 2 1/2 years to 18+. It is considered to be one of the best day schools in the country. It has a lasting culture and heritage, with notable alumni in various fields. The schools were established and funded in 1836 in accordance with the will of the French-born soldier of fortune and philanthropist Major General Claude Martin. There are two La Martinière Colleges in Kolkata and three in Lyon in France.

The college in Lucknow has two schools on different campuses for boys  and girls. La Martinière Boys' College was founded in 1845 and La Martinière Girls' College in 1869. The Boys' College,Lucknow is the only school in the world to have been awarded ''royal battle honors'' for its role in the defense of Lucknow during the mutiny of 1857.


Rosie Llewellyn-Jones. A very ingenious man: Claude Martin in early colonial India, 1993, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 241pp.