Martyn College

From Kook Science

Martyn College of Oratory
Formation 1884, founded
1892, incorporated
Dissolution c. 1895
Purpose/focus Courses on public speaking, acting, general self-improvement
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Founder Francis G. Martyn
President Webster Edgerly
Advertising circular, as published in Werner's Directory (1887).

The Martyn College of Elocution and Oratory (or simply Martyn College of Oratory; later Martyn College of Expression and Physical Culture) was an American scholastic enterprise, founded by Francis G. Martyn at Washington, D.C. in 1884 (as a subsidiary of the "Martyn Commercial College"), and re-incorporated in 1892 following Martyn's death with Webster Edgerly as its new president,[1] having as its purpose the teaching of personal skills, such as elocution, oratory, acting, physical cultural, etc. In early post-incorporation advertisements for the college, the founder was listed as Martyn; however, later adverts credited Edgerly alone as founder and president.

Martyn Commercial College

Founded by Francis G. Martyn (1842-1891) in the mid-1880s, the original Martyn College boasted itself as "the Highest Standard Business College in America," offering a curriculum of "Theory, Practical Banking, and English" (and a sharp disclaimer that "colored students" would not be permitted to enrol).[2] This program would later expand to include classes in elocution, oratory, rhetoric, and related courses of value to the political classes of the D.C. region, all under the name of the Martyn College of Elocution and Oratory.

Following Martyn's death,[3][4] his wife Lizzie Etta (Edgerly) Martyn's[5] brother, Webster Edgerly, would re-incorporate the oratory school under his own administration.

Martyn College of Elocution and Oratory

The college class of 1894 mounted public protest against Edgerly after they were denied graduation and degree, and launched an investigation into his past, outing him as being Edmund Shaftesbury and Everett Ralston, whose works formed the core of the school's program;[6] reports on this matter resulted in Edgerly's filing a libel suit against the Washington News.[7]


  1. "MARTYN COLLEGE (advert)", Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) 81 (20370): 19, 20 Sept. 1892,, "Martyn College of Oratory, 614 12 St. N.W., Founded in 1884, Incorporated under United States laws in 1892. Hon. Francis G. Martyn, Founder; Webster Edgerly, A.M., L.L.B., President. Hon. E. B. Hay, chairman of Board of Trustees. The Martyn College is the largest and most influential college of its kind in the world. Its text books, 16 in number, are in use in every state in America and throughout Europe. By its act of incorporation it is legally authorized to confer Diplomas, Degrees, Titles and Teachers' Licenses. Four Graduating Courses: 1. A Complete Course in ELOCUTION. 2. A Complete Course in ORATORY. 3. A Complete Course in ACTING. 4. A Complete Course in PHYSICAL CULTURE. Any one or all four courses may be had on one tuition fee. Special studies, without additional expense, include Literature, Shakespeare, Parlor Fencing and the Minuet." 
  2. "Martyn Commercial College (advertisement)", National Republican (Washington, D.C.), 5 March 1888, 
  3. "District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1961", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 3 December 2014), Francis G. Martyn, 1891.
  4. "Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2015), Francis Martyn, 1891; Burial, Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States of America, Pine Grove Cemetery; citing record ID 77757241, Find a Grave,
  5. "Massachusetts Marriages, 1695-1910," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 December 2014), Francis G. Martyn and Lizzie E. Edgerly, 04 Nov 1886; citing reference pg 274 rn 500; FHL microfilm 1,927,903.
  6. "HIS PUPILS ARE RELENTLESS. Prof. Webster Edgerly the Subject of an Indignation Meeting. MARTYN COLLEGE COMMOTION. Irregularities of Management Are Charged. He is Said to Have a Past That is Not Above Suspicion — Significant Letter to the Faculty — Aliases He Used", The Washington Times 1 (97): 1, 22 June 1894,, retrieved 2016-12-13 
  7. "EDGERLY GOES TO THE LAW. He Sues the General Manager and Editor of the Washington News for Criminal and Civil Libel.", The Washington Times 1 (97): 4, 18 August 1894,, retrieved 2016-12-13