John Hill Martin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 13, 1823, the son of William Martin (1797-1862) and Sarah Ann Smith (1801-1876). He had eight siblings who survived to maturity: William, Jr. (b. 1824), Ellen Crosby, Mary Welsh (1832-1851), Luther (b. 1834), Georgiana, Mortimer Richard Talbot (b. 1838), Sarah Ann, and Ernest Dudley (1843-1868). His grandmother in Ridley, Pennsylvania, raised him until he was 13, when he joined his parents in Chester, Pennsylvania. In 1838, Martin entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, but he resigned his place in 1841. He studied law with George L. Ashmead in Philadelphia, was admitted to the Philadelphia bar in November 1844, and practiced law for many years. He was legal editor of the Philadelphia Intelligencer and wrote several historical works about cities and regions in Pennsylvania. In 1861, he became captain of an independent artillery company in Philadelphia, though he did not serve in the field. John Hill Martin died on April 7, 1906.