Richard Martin – MP & Animal Rights Campaigner


The Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822 was one of the first pieces of animal welfare legislation, being fundamental to the formation of the RSPCA in 1824.  Richard Martin; an Irish politician, would be crucial to the development of this Act hence its informal name of ‘Martin’s Act.’

Mocked by many being labelled ‘Humanity Dick’ by King George IV, Richard Martin was successful in protecting the rights of sheep, horses and other cattle but further attempts to ban dog-fighting, cock-fighting and bull-baiting failed.

An enthusiastic duelist, Richard Martin defended a dogs honour after it was killed by George Robert FitzGerald with both of the gentlemen being wounded in the process. When asked why he dueled over such a trivial matter, Richard Martin said  ‘Sir, an ox cannot hold a pistol!’

Until the dark day comes when animals have thumbs and are able to use guns, we should remember how Richard Martin was one of the first people to question the morals of our relationship with animals.

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