- 1971, Dorothy Dunnett, The Ringed Castle, edition 1997 Vintage ed., ISBN 0679777474, page 224:
- If you can manage an attack of the Marthambles, we could persuade one to say an incantation over you. You would then be anointed with infallible remedies -- say, live earworms mashed into alcohol.
- 1991, Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation, ISBN 0393030326, page 132:
- […] Abse, a member of the afterguard, whose complaint was known as the marthambles at sea and griping of the guts by land, a disease whose cause Stephen did not know and whose symptoms he could only render more nearly bearable by opiates […]
Apparently coined by a Dr. Tufts of early 18th-century London, as the name of one of five diseases his medicine was claimed to be able to cure. According to C.J.S. Thompson's "The Quacks of Old London" (page 100), the marthambles is one of several nonexistent diseases invented by Dr. Tufts in a pamphlet circa 1700 in order to sell his tonics and medicines. Other diseases mentioned in Tufts' pamphlet are the "Strong Fives", the "Moon Pall", and the "Hockogrockle". Tufts claimed to have encountered these diseases on his travels over a period of forty years, and that he could cure them all.