Capt. John Martin, of Jamestown

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John Martin, Esq.

Also Known As: "Mr. John Marten"
Birthdate: (65)
Birthplace: Tottenham, London, Middlesex , England
Death: between 1627 and 1632 (55-73)
probably on Martin's Brandon Plantation, Prince George County, Virginia
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Richard Martin, Lord Mayor of London and Dorcas Martin
Husband of Mary Martin
Father of Elizabeth Martin; John Martin, Gent. and Dorcas Adney
Brother of Richard Martin; Dorcas Caesar; Thomas Martin and Nathaniel Martin

Occupation: Mariner, Master of Ordnance, Councilman of the Jamestown Colony in 1607. He was the proprietor of Martin's Brandon Plantation, Rear admiral on the Falcon; burgess
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About Capt. John Martin, of Jamestown

Capt. John Martin (born between 1560 - 1565 – died between 1627 -1632) was a Councilman of the Jamestown Colony in 1607. He was the proprietor of Martin's Brandon Plantation on the south bank of the James River. Located in modern-day Prince George County, Virginia and known as Lower Brandon Plantation, in the 21st century, his circa 1616 plantation is both a National Historical Landmark open to tours and one of America's oldest continuous farming operations.

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As of June 2015, identifies him as son of John Martin of Bridgetown Pomeroy, based on the Herald's Visitation of Devon in 1620, which reads:

"John Martin of Plimouth, at age 70 in 1620, who went round about the world with Sir Francis Drake in 1577. He married Jackametha, daughter of Lewis de Browne of Anwarp. Their sons: 1) Francis, at age 35 in 1620; 2) John, at age 34 in 1620."

But John Martin of Plimouth was born about 1550, and Capt John Martin deposed in 1622 that he was 55 years old, making his birth date about 1567. Capt John Martin was on Sir Drake's 1585 expedition, not his 1577. The more logical parents, chronologically, are those noted in his traditional biographical details: Sir Richard Martin, goldsmith, & Dorcas Eccleston. To support this is his wife's father's trade of goldsmith, and he is said to have had a daughter Dorcas, who married George Bargrave, presumably named for his mother.



John Martin was the son of Sir Richard Martin (1533/4[citation needed] - 1617), alderman and goldsmith of London, by his first wife Dorcas Eccleston. Sir Richard later held office as Master of the Mint and Lord Mayor of the City of London. (He is not the same as the Mr. Richard Martin (1570–1618) who was the recorder of London, counsel for the Virginia Company and organizer of The Society of Martin's Hundred, whose subsidiary "particular plantation" development circa 1618-1619 was known as Martin's Hundred). [1]

Martin commanded the Benjamin under Sir Francis Drake in the 1585–86 expedition[2] to harass the Spanish ports in the New World. On his return, Captain Martin married Mary, daughter of Robert Brandon, a prominent English goldsmith and supplier to Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Martin accompanied Bartholomew Gosnold in his 1602 exploration of the New England coast, and it has been theorized that the island of Martha's Vineyard - spelled "Martin's Vineyard" in most 17th century references - was named after Capt. Martin.[3]

[edit] Virginia ColonyCaptain John Martin arrived in Virginia along with his teenage son John on April 26, 1607, when what came to be called the "First Landing" occurred at the place where south edge of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, a location the colonists named Cape Henry.

Captain Martin was named to the Council to oversee the new colony by the Virginia Company in an order that was held in a sealed box which was only to be opened in Virginia.[4]

After finding a location to build their settlement which met the requirements set forth in their sealed orders, they founded Jamestown on May 14, 1607. Shortly after this, the Council elected Edward Maria Wingfield president of the colony.[5]

Wingfield reported that, "Master Martyn followed with, he reporteth that I do slack the service in the collonye, and doe nothing but tend my pott, spitt, and oven, but he hath starved my sonne, and denyed him a spoonfull of beere; I have friends in England shalbe revenged on him if ever he come in London." [6]

Captain Christopher Newport who commanded the fleet of three ships which had brought them to the New World, sailed back to England (taking along the Susan Constant and the Godspeed, in order to return with additional supplies. While Newport was gone, in November of 1607, Martin and Smith refused to allow the remaining colonists to return to England on their remaining ship, the Discovery.[7] Martin objected during the winter, when John Smith was away having been captured by Indians, to President John Ratcliffe's appointment of Gabriel Archer as councilor.

Martin came into conflict with John Smith when, in the spring of 1608, the two gold refiners that Christopher Newport had transported to the colony who had led the fruitless efforts of looking for gold were sent back to London. Martin, being the son of a goldsmith, was very enthusiastic about the development; Smith was not.[8]

Martin's teenage son John was among the majority of the earliest colonists who died during the first year at Jamestown. Captain Martin returned to England on the Phoenix in 1608 and returned with the ships of the ill-fated Third Supply which arrived in 1609, less their flagship, the Sea Venture, and the leaders and supplies which had been aboard. It is not clear when he returned again to England, but he may have returned to Virginia in 1624 on the Swan.

Captain John Martin died in 1632 at Martin's Brandon Plantation, which he had established on a 1616 land grant in Virginia, leaving his plantation to a grandson, Captain Robert Bargrave.

[edit] Martin's Brandon PlantationBargrave sold the plantation to three merchants from England. Then, from 1720 until 1926, the plantation became home to members of the prominent Harrison family of Virginia. Located in modern-times in Prince George County, Virginia and known as Lower Brandon Plantation, in the 21st century, Captain John Martin's circa 1616 plantation is both a National Historical Landmark open to tours and one of America's oldest continuous farming operations.

  • For more details on this topic, see Lower Brandon Plantation.
  • [edit] Notes1.^
  • 2.^ Brown, pp. 943-944
  • 3.^ Banks, Charles. The History of Martha's Vineyard, Vol. I. Dukes County Historical Society, 1911. pp. 73-33
  • 4.^ Price, p. 30
  • 5.^ Price, p. 36
  • 6.^ Price, p. 51
  • 7.^ Price, p. 58
  • 8.^ Price, pp. 76-77


  1. Year: 1607. Place: Jamestown, Virginia. Primary Immigrant: Martin, John. TOLZMANN, DON HEINRICH. The First Germans in America. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1992. pp. 1-46, 389-436. Page 18.


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Capt. John Martin, of Jamestown's Timeline

London, Middlesex , England
Age 9
Age 25
London, Middlesex , England
Age 26
London, Middlesex , England
Age 65
Prince George County, Virginia