Capt. Nicholas Martiau

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Capt. Nicholas Martiau

Also Known As: ""Father of Yorktown"", "Martin", "Martian", "Martieu", "Marlier"
Birthdate: (66)
Birthplace: Nantes, Loire-Atlanticique, Pays de la Loire, France
Death: April 16, 1657 (62-70)
Yorktown, York County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
Place of Burial: Yorktown, York County , Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Elizabeth? Martiau; Jane Martiau and Isabella Martiau
Father of Nicholas Martiau; Richard Martiau; Elizabeth Reade; Mary Scasbrook and Sarah Fuller

Occupation: Engineer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Capt. Nicholas Martiau

Nicholas Martiau

  • born 1591 in France
  • will dated 1 March 1656, proved 1657 in VA.
  • Parents unknown
  • Married 1) unknown 2) Jane, widow of Edward Berkeley 3) Isabella, widow Beech

A French engineer, Nicholas Martiau was hired by the Virginia Colony in 1620 to survey and patent the land near what is now Yorktown, which led in 1632 to the establishment of a fort at Middle Plantation, later Williamsburg.



Martieau's French wife and children probably did not survive " the seasoning period "

In 1639 he obtained a patent for land at Yorktown due him on account of importing himself, Nicholas Marlier, wife Jane, Michlas, his son, Elizabeth Marlier, his daughter, and Jane Berkeley her daughter and several others "the first year to Chiskiack."

Edward Beverley died in 1625, so Nicholas married Jane after then. Their children were

  1. Sarah Martiau, married William Fuller
  2. Mary Martiau, married John Scarsbrook
  3. Elizabeth Martiau, married George Reade

Jane (Unknown) (Berkeley) Martiau died before 1640, and according to Stoudt, found in the County Court Records is the subsequent marriage of Nicholas to Isabella, widow Beech, who is not mentioned in his will, so must have predeceased him.


excerpts from Will of Captain Nicolas Martiau (1591-1657)

"Item I give and bequeath to my Daughter, Mary Scarsbrook, wife of John Scarsbrook soe much of my sd. Divydent of Land in York Parrish as is scituate and lying beyond the Swamp [vizt.] on the Southward side of that Swamp called commonly Broccas Swamp upon part of which the said John is now seated to be held by the sd. Mary and her heirs lawfully begotten & to be begotten forever with the appurtenances --"

Item I give and bequeath to my loveing Daughter Mary Scarsbrook & her heires forever the Mare Foale now runing wth. my mare wth. whole Increase Male & Female --

Item I give to my said Daughter Elizabeth and her heires my Grey Gelding but my Sonn John Scasbrook to make use of him for his occasions -- Two years after my decease when he shall desyre the same.

Item I give to my loveing sonn, George Read, Esq. all my weareing apparrell except my Stuff Suite and Coate and new Dimity Caster which I hereby bequeath to my Sonn John Scarsbrook and alsoe will that five pounds ready money now lying by me be equally divyded between my said Two Son in lawes

Item I give and bequeth to my above named Two loveing Daughters Elizabeth Read and Mary Scarsbrook for the good of themselves & their Children All the rest of my Estate whatsoever in Virginia or elsewhere to be equally divyded betweene them but this Divysyon not to be made untill all my Debts & Legacyes be satisfied which said severall Debts are to be paid out of the part of my Estate as is given to my said Two daughters & their Children without any Charge to my Daughter Sarah or her heires. ~~

Item lastly I doe by these presents nominate & appoint & Confirme my two beloved Daughters Elizabeth and Mary Joynt Executrixes of this my last Will & Testament to see the same performed and kept And in Confirmacon of this my said last Will & Testament & of every matter Course & thing therein conteyned I have hereto sett my hand and Seale this first day of March One Thousand Six hundred Fifty Six.

Nicholas Martian


"Sealed & Signed in the presence of [5]




Nicholas Martiau was a Frenchman who immigrated to the English colony of Virginia in the 17th century. Nothing is known of his youth except that he has learned to read by studying the Gospels and the Bible. At the same time he impregnated the doctrine of Calvin, and he learned to speak English. But it is likely that, because of political and religious context of the time, he was forced into exile in England since it contains his signature on a register and a Huguenot church. In January 11, 1619, he was naturalised English. He married Englishwoman Jane Berkeley, daughter [SIC: widow] of Edward Berkeley. Nicholas and Jane had children, one of whom was a daughter Elizabeth Martiau (Martian).

On May 16, 1620, Nicolas Martiau, aged 29, left England on the Francis Bonaventure in August 1620 and arrived in Jamestown which he built fences defense which allowed the city to be spared in a massacre by the Indians in 1622. The success of this action earned him the title of "master engineer fences". - Wikipedia

Birth: 1590/1591

 Of, York, Yorkshire, England   
Christening:   1619 

Justice and Burgess of York.

Of Yorktown, VA, USA

"A Frenchman, who came to Virginia and naturalized both himself and his name..." [to Martian]. "Nicholas Martian was the first owner of the land on which Yorktown was established, was of French birth, a Protestant, and a naturalized citizen of England, was in Virginia 1621 with a wife an two children, married second after 1625, Jane widow of Lieutenant Berkley, married a third time, 1645, Isabella Beech, divided his estate between his daughters Elizabeth, with of Col George Reade; Mary, wife of Col. John Scasbrook; and Sarah, wife of William Fuller, Governor of Maryland. All three daughters were by Elizabeth, his first wife. Nicholas Martian's will is dated March 1, 1656 and is recorded in York County 1657."

Quote from Lewises, Meriwethers and Their Kin

Nicolas Martiau

1591 - 1657

"Father of Yorktown"

Captain of Militia, Yorke Shire Justice, Burgess, Military Engineer, Planter and Wine Maker

Nicolas Martiau and 16 of his family members were reinterred from the family burial site on Buckner Street to this site in 1936. This marker is dedicated to Nicolas Martiau, 1591 - 1657, upon whose land the Town of Yorke was founded in 1691. He was the earliest American ancestor of General George Washington and Governor Thomas Nelson. Dedicated May 22, 1993Nicolas Martiau

1591 - 1657

"Father of Yorktown"

Captain of Militia, Yorke Shire Justice, Burgess, Military Engineer, Planter and Wine Maker

Nicolas Martiau and 16 of his family members were reinterred from the family burial site on Buckner Street to this site in 1936. This marker is dedicated to Nicolas Martiau, 1591 - 1657, upon whose land the Town of Yorke was founded in 1691. He was the earliest American ancestor of General George Washington and Governor Thomas Nelson. Dedicated May 22, 1993


Nicholas and his family were French Huguenots who were thrown out of France or escaped to England. Nicholas served in the armed forces of England and ended up at Jamestown. He eventuallybecame a member of the House of Burgesses and his family became one of the "Prominent Virginia Families"

On page 121 in the photographic reproduction of a patent, Jan 6, 1639/40, of Capt. Nicholas Martiau, the French Walloon, who is the earliest American ancestor of George Washington, appear among the fourteen persons transported at his own cost and charges Capt Martiau himself, his wife, a son and a daughter. On the other hand in a patent of Councillor George Read, of Nov 2, 1658, the headrights include Capt martiau, his wife and his daughter Elizabeth, whom Col Reade married. ["Adventurers of Purse and Person VIRGINIA 1607-1624/5" Third Edition - Edited by Virginia M. Meyer (1974-1981) and John Frederick Dorman, F.A.S.G. (1981-1987,]

Captain Martiau was a French Huguenot (in church of Threadneedle St.) and was in the service of Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon and member of the Virginia Company, and educated as a military engineer. He was naturalized as an Englishman by royal decree. He came to Jamestown aboard the "Francis Bona Venture" in 1620, legally representing the Earl to plan fortifications. He led a foray against the Indians at Falling Creek after the 1622 massacre. He joined the liberal party committed to the Virginia outlook, pleading for continuance of the House of Burgesses in 1623/4.

Captain Nicolas Martiau, French Protestant, naturalized in England before sailing for Virginia on the Francis Bonventure in the spring of 1620, came to the colony as one of two agents for the Earl of Huntington. He settled at Elizabeth City where he is listed in the census and also in the muster, 1624/25, when his age was given as 33 years. He is the progenitor of numerous American descendants through the Read, Warner, Nelson and Lewis families, who number among their scions General george Washington, General Robert E. Lee and Thomas Nelson, signer of the Declaration of Independence. Captain Martiau also is an American forebear of Queen Elizabeth II of England through her mother, the Queen Mother, consort of the late King George VI of England, who before her marriage was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, eleventh in descent from Martiau.

Following the Indian massacre of 1622, Captain Martiau with a company of men was sent up the James River to Falling Creek where the first iron works erected in the colony had been ruthlessly destroyed by the natives and where the inhabitants had suffered heavily. As a member of the House of Burgesses, 1623, he signed the completed draft of the First Laws made by the Assembly in Virginia, which, undertaken, 1619, had been concluded, 5 March 1623/24-D

Upon decision of the Governor and Council, 8 October 1630, to open the region of Indian settlement at Chiskiake on the Pamunkey (York) River to English colonists, Captain Martiau sought land there. His patent for 1300 acres in Charles River (York) County, 14 March 1639, recites that 600 acres were "due him for the adv. of himself, his wife & 10 pers. the 1st year to Chiskiake," during which year a special dividend of land was allocated to settlers, and that the remaining 700 acres were due him "for trans. at his own expense of 14 pers. into the Colony: Captain Nicolas Martian (or Martiau), Mrs. Jane his wife, Nicolas Martian his son, Elizabeth Martian his daughter, Jane Barkeley her daughter. . . ."E

Martiau was elected to the House of Burgesses from "Kiskyacke and the Isle of Kent," 1632, and was among the first appointees as a Justice of York, serving from 1633 to his death, 1657, the records showing that Court was held at times at his home.F

The 1632 Assembly of which Martiau was a member drew up a set of grievances to be sent to the Privy Council in England, setting forth conditions in the Colony which were a prelude to the "Thrusting out of Sir John Harvey" as Governor of Virginia, 1635. In this first rebellion against autocratic rule, Captain Martiau was a leader, having been one of three spokesmen at a meeting of discontented colonists held at Yorktown.G . At least twice there arose in Virginia some question as to Nicolas1 Martiau's allegiance to England. Following a dispute on board a vessel at Kecoughtan, 1626, Martiau was required by the General Court to take the "oath of Supremacy" and apparently did so without question, 15 October 1627. Again, an order drawn, 28 March 1656, and recorded in Northampton County recites that "Captain Nicolas Martiau obtained his denizenation in England and could hold any office or employment in Virginia."_

Nicolas1 Martiau married (I) - - and (2) after 1624, *Mrs. Jane," whose daughter *Jane Barkeley was named a headright in Martiau's patent, 1639. On 5 July, 1627, Mrs. Jane Martian (Martiau) appeared in Court and delivered an inventory of the estate of *"Left. Edward Bartley dee' d.," indicating that she was Bartley's (Barkeley) widow before her (2) marriage:

A transcript of Nicolas1 Martiau's will, I March 1656/57-24 April 1657, York, does not mention his wife, who apparently predeceased him, but does name three daughters, three sons-in-law, and grandchildren and provides for the liberation of two slaves with an allotment of land to each.k

Issue:L by (I), 2. Nicolas2 named as a headright in his father's patent, apparently died young as he is not named in his father's will; 3. ELIZABETH2; by (2),4. MARY2; 5. Sarah2 married Captain William Fuller, Puritan Governor of Maryland, 1654, who appears to have withdrawn from public life at the approaching Restoration.

3. ELIZABETH2 MARTIAU (1615-1686) (Nicolas1) married about 1641 George Reade (25 October 1608-1671), son of Robert and Mildred (Windebank) Reade of England, who had come to Virginia in Sir John Harvey's party upon his return as Governor of Virginia, 1637.M On 27 August 1640, George Reade was appointed by the King "to the place of Secretary [of the Colony] in the absence of Richard Kemp, who has lately arrived in England." Reade was Burgess for James City, 1649 and for York,1655-56 and was appointed to the Council, 1657, holding that office until his death, 1671. His will dated 29 September 1670 and admitted to probate by the General Court, 21 November 1671, devised a tract of 850 acres in York County whereon he lived to his wife Elizabeth2 (also named executrix) during her life and at her death to be equally divided between his sons George3 and Robert3 and heirs with reversion to his sons Francis 3 and Benjam 3.

.Elizabeth2 (Martiau) Reade's will, 10 February 1685-24 January 1686/87, York, names children and grandchildren. The tombstones of George Reade and Elizabeth2 (Marti au) Reade uncovered in an excavation at( Yorktown, 1931, subsequently were placed in Grace churchyard there. Inscriptions, badly worn, were recut with information then in hand, but recut dates since have been found to be in error. Issue: 6. GeorgeS d.s.p. before 1685, his brothers BenjaminS and Franciss inheriting his share of their father's York plantation, as recited in the Mitchell-Ambler deed conveying a portion of the land, 1741;0 7. ROBERT3; 8. THOMAS3; 9. FRANCIS3; 10. BENJAMINs; 11. MILDREDs; 12. ELIZABETHs. 4. MARY2 MARTIAU (Nicolas1) married as his (I) wife Lieutenant Colonel John Scasbrook of York County, who married after 1657 as his (2) wife Elizabeth, daughter of Mrs. Elizabeth Bushrod by a former marriage. John Scasbrook's will, 18 April 1679-24 June 1679, York, names his "two oldest daughters Janes Duke and Elizabeth S Condon," executrices and directs that anything recovered from "Mrs. Bushrod's estate" shall be divided- among his four minor children, Martha, Mary, Hannah and John Scasbrook.p Issue: 13. JAN£3; 14. ELIZABETHs. 7. ROBERTs READE (Elizabeth2 Martiau, Nicolas1) named by his father heir to one-half the 850 acre plantation at and near the . present Yorktown, served as Justice of York, 1692, married before 1692, Mary, daughter of John Lilly. His will, 30 December 1712-16 March 1712/13, Yark, and his wife's will proved 20 November 1722, York, name Issue: 15. John4 mentioned in his father's will as "having an estate far greater than I am able to give to my other children," lived in King and Queen County; 16. Margaret4 married Thomas Nelson ("Scotch Tom"), the emigrant of Yorktown; 17. Robert4 named co-heir with his cousin to Tower Hill in King and Queen County, the plantation of Benjamin Reade, who in his will 1692 mentions Robert4 as "nephew;"R IS. Thomas4 whose will, 21 May 171S-15 June 1719, York names his mother, his brothers and his sisters, d.s.p.;8 19. George4; 20. Samuel4 lived in York-Hampton Parish, married Mary Sclater (b. 9 March 1712), daughter of Richard and Mary (Nutting) Sclater; 21. Mildred4 married (I) James Goodwin and (2) Colonel Lawrence Smith. S. THOMASs READET (Elizabeth2 Martiau, Nicolas!) married Lucy, daughter of Edmund Gwynn of Gloucester County, was an adherent of Governor Berkeley and especially singled out for denunciation by Nathaniel Bacon in his proclamation, 1676; named one of overseers of his mother's will, 16S5. Issue: 22. Thomas4 d.s.p.; 23. John4 of King and Queen County; 24. Lucy4 (1701-1731) married John Dixon; probably others. 9. FRANCISs READEu (Elizabeth2 Martiau, Nicolas!) shared with his brother BenjaminS a half interest in the share of his deceased brother GeorgeS in their father's 85° acre plantation; married (I) 7. Jane Cheesman (Chisman), daughter of Edmund Cheesman of York County and (2) --. Issue: 25. George4, named co-heir with his cousin 17. Robert Reade to Tower Hill in King and Queen County; 26. Mary4 married Edward Davies of King and Queen County; 27. Elizabeth4 married Paul Watlington; 2S. Amy4 named in will of Benjamin Reade; 29. Anne4 married Matthew Pate of Poropotank Creek, Gloucester County.v 10. BENJAMINs READEw (Elizabeth2 Martiau, Nicolas!) under age, 1685, is not to be confused with Benjamin Reade, his father's "kinsman" who d.s.p. 1692, naming nephews and other relatives. BenjaminS was joint heir with his brother FrancisS to his deceased brother's interest in the 85° acre Reade plantation bequeathed by their father. In a division ordered by the Court, 25 February 1691, BenjaminS received 212Yz acres lying immediately on the York River. This parcel included in the tract originally patented by Nicolas! Martiau embraced the 50 acres selected 24 July 1691 as the site for the town

R After a series of interrogations, at which a number of relatives testified, the Court admitted to probate the will of Benjamin Reade, 18 October 1692-24 January 1692/93, York, which reserved to the Reade family land in King and Queen County; the will mentions land in England, makes bequests to nephews and nieces, who were children of RobertS, Franciss and ElizabethS Reade, also bequests to his deceased wife's relatives and names "my trusty and well beloved kinsman RobertS Reade sale executor." (R,

York Co, D. O. W. #9 pp. 194-196) 8 [bid. D. & w. #15, p. 452 'r H VIII 483 et seq.; for Lucy4 Reade, see inscript, on tbst. near Gloucester Court House (V IV 206 et seq.) u W(1)XIV II7 et seq. v For Pate family see W(r)V 279; W(I)III 39 w See account of "whole charge of ye Port land in York Co." 24 Feb. r691/92 recorded on' afsd. date in York Co.; also Mitchell-Ambler deed, 1741, ante note n.

N For Reade's service, see H I 358, 432, 505; MCGC 283; for Elizabeth2 (Martiau) Reade's will, see R, York Co. W. 16841687, p. 257; George Reade's will (not now extant) naming a son GeorgeS (d. bet. 1685) is recited in a deed of James Mitchell to Richard Ambler, 16 May 1741 (Ibid. D. #5, 174I-I754, p. 3) 0 Ibid.

p W(I)XXIV 200; for will of John Scasbrook, R, York Co. #6 (transcript) p. 136; for will of Thomas Bushrod, Ibid., p.6 Q W (I) XIV II7 et seq.; will of Robert S Reade, R York Co. W. #14. pp. 241-242; will of Mary Reade, see J. S. Goodwin, The Goodwin Family in America 149

C Sir Anthony R. Wagner, "Queen Elizabeth's American Ancestry," The Genealogists' Magazine (Sept. 1939), D MCGC II; H I 129, E CP 44, 121, F H I 153; R, York CO. #1, pp. 4, 5, 6, 23, 58, G JHB 1619-1658/59, p. 56; see letter of Sec. Kemp, 17 May 1635, giving details of meeting (V VIII 302-306), H MCGC 156; V XVI 109, J MCGC 151, K R, York Co. #1, p. 337, L Martiau's letter to the Earl of Huntington mentions "my little ones," obviously the children by his (2) wife, M For acct. of George Reade & Reade family, see W(I)XIV II7 et seq.; see also excerpts from communications regarding George Reade and from George Reade to Robt. Reade in England (C 1574-1660 260,274, 293,-310, 311, 314); also "Act Docking Gwynn and Reade Entail," 1769 (H VIII 883 et seq.)

Martiau's defense of the French king in an argument with Capt. Thomas Mayhew forced him to take a loyalty oath in Jamestown in 1627. He was granted 600 acres as Chiskiack, which became Yorktown (in 1644, the Cheskiack Indians were moved to the Pianketank, where they would be forced out by Augustine Warner; the tribe seems to have vanished at that point.) He served as Burgess 1632-33, and Justice for York Co. 1633-57. "He, with George Utie and Captain Samuel Matthews, sent the tyrant governor, Harvey, close prisoner back to England." Harvey returned, bringing George Reade--Martiau’s future son-in-law--with him, but he was forced back to England again, leaving Reade as Acting Governor. Martiau moved to the present Yorktown site in 1630 on 600 acres, plus 700 for headri ghts, where he grew tobacco. On this land Cornwallis surrendered his troops to Martiau's great-great-great-grandson, General George Washington in 1781. 1635 Commissioned by the Virginia Assembly to build a defense line and forts between the James and Charles Rivers as a frontier against the Indians. 20 May 1635 granted 1600 acres off of the Charles River as a payment for building forts and palisades across the peninsula from the Indians. Martiau later was granted 2000 acres on the south side of the Potomac River, which he gave to Col. George Reade in 1657.

He was married to Jane before Mar 1625 in VA. Jane was born before 1605 in ENG. She died before 1640 in Yorktown, York County, VA. Came to Virginia aboard the "Sea Flower" in 1621.

Jane was the widow of Lt. Edward Berkeley. She arrived on the Seaflower in 1621. They were married in 1625.

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The Martiau Ancestry

The emigrant of the Virginia Martiau family (from which Mildred Reade Warner descends) was Nicholas Martiau, a French Huguenot. He was born in France in 1591. While still young, Nicholas Martiau went to England, became a naturalized Englishman by special proclamation of King James I, and came under the influence of the Earl of Huntingdon. Martiau was educated as a military engineer in the design of fortification.

The Earl of Huntingdon was one of the members of the Virginia Company, a private corporation which was entirely responsible for the initial colonization and development of Virginia. In about 1619, the colonists petitioned the Virginia Company for an expert to be sent to Virginia to construct fortifications needed in defense against the Indians. Huntingdon was instrumental in securing the appointment of Martiau to this position.

Martiau arrived in Virginia in June of 1620 where he acted as representative for the Earl of Huntingdon's extensive interests in the colony. The Virginia Census of 1624 lists "Capt. Nicholas Martue" as having migrated to Virginia in the ship, "Francis Bonaventure," sailing from England on May 11, 1620.

Martiau served the rank of Captain in the Virginia militia and was in charge of constructing fortifications. Three sites were selected for immediate fortification, one being Old Point Comfort at Fort Monroe, Virginia. He directed the construction of the great log palisade between the headwaters of College and Queen Creeks and built the fort at York. The depredations of the Indians, climaxed in the 1622 uprising, had caused such concern among the first settlers that a series of forts and outposts were planned. The first "western" frontier was established by a line crossing the Tidewater Peninsula from Jamestown to the Charles (York) River along which it was proposed to erect a wall of logs. The construction of this log palisade, called Fort York, was entrusted to Martiau. The fort was so well constructed that it was still active more than forty years later. During the Indian uprisings along the Rappahannock River in 1676, the inhabitants of Gloucester fled across the river for refuge in the fort at York.

After the disastrous uprising and massacre by the Indians in 1622, Martiau was stationed with a company of the militia at Falling Creek further up the James River.

Martiau first resided in Elizabeth City, Virginia. He served as a member of the House of Burgesses, serving during the Assemby of 1623-4 (Journals of the House of Burgesses 1619-1658/9, Pp. viii).

Martiau married first, Jane Berkeley, widow of Lieut. Edward Berkeley, in 1624 or 1625. Edward Berkeley had been killed in the Indian massacre of 1622. Berkeley is credited with establishing the first iron works in American.

On December 12, 1625, Martiau wrote to the Earl of Huntingdon, "I am now both a husband and a father." Their first child, Elizabeth Martiau, was born at Elizabeth City in 1625. They resided in Elizabeth City for several years after they started raising a family. In marrying Jane, Martiau established himself as and his family as the first ancestors in America of another eminent military engineer, George Washington. According to family charts (unidentified as to the maker) on file with the Department of Interior National Park Service in Yorktown, Nicholas Martiau married Isabella Beech about 1640/41 after the death of Jane Berkeley Martiau.

Nicholas Martiau acquired a substantial amount of land in Virginia during his lifetime. About the time of his marriage to Jane Berkeley, he acquired a large tract which included what later became the town of Yorktown. In 1630, the Nicholas Martiau family took up its residence permanently on this tract at Yorktown, then called, "Kiskyake" or "Cheskiacke."

It is interesting to note that Martiau was the earliest Virginia ancestor of George Washington and when Washington attacked Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, he camped his troops on land which had been owned by his ancestor, Martiau. Additionally, the surrender of Cornwallis took place on the old Martiau tract.

Nicholas Martiau was elected to serve again to the House of Burgesses, representing Kiskyake and the Isle of Kent. He served in the Assemblies of 1631-2, 1632 (beginning September 4), and 1632-3 (assembled February 1, 1633) (Hening, Vol. 1, P. 179, 202). He was appointed Justice of York County by Governor Harvey and held that office for over twenty years, serving from July 12, 1633 through September 24, 1655. One of his other appointments, in 1639, was as one of the Tobacco Viewers for Charles River County.

In March, 1639, "Captain Nicholas" Martiau was granted 1,300 acres in Charles County River. Of this tract, 700 was granted for transportation of fourteen persons into the colony. 600 acres was granted for his own migration, his wife, and ten persons to Chiskiack in its first year. Chiskiack, or Yorktown, was at first a frontier settlement, exposed to attack by indians. Eventually in 1644, the migration of the Chiskiack Indians from the York River to the Piankentank eliminated this threat. In 1644, Martiau acquired two more grants of 2,000 acres each in Westmoreland County, Virginia (Westmoreland Deed Book No. 3, Pp. 312,363).

The most important part Captain Nicholas Martiau played in Virginia history related to the ejection of Governor Harvey. Opposition to Harvey's methods and high-handed dealings with the colonists during the winter of 1634-35 led to various meetings to voice opposition. Some of the meetings were held at the Martiau home. This led to the arrest of Martiau, Capt. Francis Pott, and Sheriff William English of York. The men were place in irons by order of Governor Harvey, announcing his intention of hanging them. Opposition was so strong, including the Council and House of Burgesses, that he was forced to release the men. Harvey himself was placed under heavy guard. Because of his ineffectiveness as governor, Harvey was forced to return to England to appeal to the Crown for support in dealing with the colonists. He returned to Virginia, bringing with him young George Reade. Reade married Elizabeth Martiau, oldest daughter of Nicholas Martiau.

Early records mentioning Martiau's name have led researchers to believe the spelling of his name as "Martian" (Example: Lewises, Merwithers and Their Kin by Anderon). However, numerous documents bearing his signature reveal his name as Nicholas Martiau.

The ancestry of Nicholas Martiau's wife, Jane Berkeley, is not known. Her first husband, Lieutenant Edward Berkeley, was a member of the family which founded the first iron works in the Virginia colony at Falling Creek. No record of his marriage nor Jane Berkeley's maiden name has been found by researchers. The Muster of 1624 reveals that she came to Virginia in the ship "Seaflower," arriving February 1621/2.

In 1931, a monument was dedicated in Yorktown to the memory of Captain Nicolas Martiau. The dedication address was delivered by General John J. Pershing. The monument was placed on Lot No. 16 of the town of Yorktown on Ballard Street marking the site of his home:


Marked by the Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania in cooperation with the National Federation of Huguenot Societies and the Yorktown Sesqui-Centennial Commission 1931

In the 1930's, the tombstones of Martiau's daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth Martiau Reade and Col. George Reade, were discovered on Lot No. 5 on Buckner Road in Yorktown, Virginia. Their tombstones were restored and placed in the burial ground at Grace Episcopal Church in Yorktown where they remain in 1992. Later in 1936, another eighteen unidentified ancient burials were found on this lot. Although Nicolas Martiau's grave has never been positively identified, it is most likely that he was interred on what is now Lot 5 on Buckner Road among the eighteen unidentified graves.

A copy of the will of Nicholas Martiau is recorded at the Court House in Yorktown ( Deeds, Orders and Wills Vol. 1, pg377)

In the name of God, Amen. I, Nicolas Martiau, in the County and Parrish of York, Gent: being very sich and weak in body but of sound and perfect memory blessed be God doe make ordain and constitute and appoinnt this my last Will and Testament in manner and for me and following revoking annulling and making void and by these presents cancelling & disclaming all in all manner of former and other Will or Wills written or noncupative all codicils legaces and bequeths whatsoever by me at any time before the ensealing of this my last Will made signed and sealed or otherwise by word or mouth or made and delivered; and appoint this one to stand and be my last Will and Testament as follows:--First I bequieathe my soule unto the hands of God my maker hoping and assurely believing that when this life shall end I shall through the merit of Jesus Christ my Redeemer to enjoy everlasting rest and happiness and my body to the earth from whence it came to be decently buried.

"Item for that estate which Almighty God hath been pleased to lend me in this world I hereby give bequeath and dispose thereof in manner and form following--

"Item I give and bequeath to my eldest daughter Elizabeth wife of George Read, Esq., and the heirs of her body lawfully begotten or to be begotten forever all that my divident of land situate lying and being in the said parish and county of York except as hereunder excepted with all houses and appurtenances.

Item I give and bequeath to my daughter, Mary Scarsbrook, wife of John Scarsbrook so much of my said divident of land in York Parish as is situate and lying beyond the swamp on the southward side of that swamp commonly Brocces swamp upon part of which the said John is now seated to be held by the said Mary and her heirs lawfully begotten and to be begotten forever with appurtenances--

"Item I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Read and her heirs forever my old mare with her whole increase male and female to her and her heirs except the first mare foal she shall bring after my decease which I have by gift and bequeath with the whole increase thereof to my daughter, Sarah, wife of Capt. Fuller and her heirs forever.

"Item I give and bequeath to my loving daughter, Mary Scarsbrook and her heirs forever the mare foal now running with my mare with whole increase male and female--

"Item I give and bequeath to my loving daughter Elizabeth Read, my watch.

"Item I give to my said daughter Elizabeth and her heirs my gray gelding but my son John Scarsbrook to make use of for his occasions two years after my decease when he shall desyre the same.

"Item I give and bequeath to my daughter Sarah Fuller, wife of Capt. William Fuller above named and to her heirs forever all my divident of land lying in Potomac and containing two thousand acres but in case it shall not be seated by some of them (viz.) Capt. Fuller or his said wife or heirs at least one month before expiration of time limited by the patents for seating then the same to be made sale of executrixes hereunder or named and the produce thereof to be equally divided between my said three loving daughters for the good of them and their children.

"Item My Will is that within one year after my decease all cattle now in my possession marked with my daughters "Fullers mark" shall be divided for the good of her and her children. I doe also give and bequeath to her and her heirs forever ten cows more out of my stock or to be bought out of my estate with their whole increase, male and female, and also a Bull to be delivered within a year as aforsaid.

"Item I give to my loving son, George Read, Esq., all my wearing apparel except my stuft suite and coate and new dimity caster which I hereby bequeath to my Sonn John Scarsbrook and also Will that five pounds ready money now lying by me to be equally divided between my two sons-in-law.

"Item My Will that at finishing the next crop after my debts are satisfied my two negroes Phill and Nicholas shall be free and that each of them have then delivered by me executrixes one cow and three barrells of corn, clothes, and also money to build them a house but they or either of them shall hire themselves after their said freedom or before or shall remove from the land hereunder appointed them then they or he so doing to return to my executor as for the good of them and their children and my will is that they have land sufficient for themselves to plant in the said field where William Lee lived for their lives or the life of the longer liver of them.

"Item I give and bequeath to Hugh Roy lately my servant one 3 year old heifer with her increase to be delivered on demand after my decease.

"Item I give and bequeath to my above named two loving daughters Elizabeth Read and Mary Scarsbrook for the good of themselves and their children all the rest of my estate whatsoever in Virginia or elsewhere to be equally divided between them but this division not to be made until all my debts and legacies be satisfied which said several debts are to be paid out of the part of my estate above given to my said two daughters and their children without any charge to my daughter Sarah or her heirs.

"Item Lastly, I doe by these presents nominate and appoint confirm my two beloved daughters Elizabeth and Mary joint executrixes of this my last Will and Testament to see that the same performed and kept in confirmation of this my said last Will and Testament and of every matter clause or thing therein contained I have hereto set my hand and seal this 1st day of March One Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty-Six. "Nicolas Martiau (SEAL) "Seal and Signed in the presence of us "Nicholas Trott Tho. Ballard "Proved in Court April 24, 1657 p sacramentum "Nicholas Trott & Th. Ballard "Cl Curia & Recor codem die & ano." Nicholas died in 1657 at Yorktown at least seventeen years after his wife, Jane. According to Sorley's Lewises of Warner Hall, their only son, Nicolas Martiau, Jr., had died in childhood and they were survived by the three daughters named in the will:

1. Elizabeth Martiau, who married Col. George Reade. 2. Mary Martiau, whose husband. Col. John Scarsbrook, was a leader in Bacon's Rebellion. 3. Sarah Martiau, wife of William Fuller, the Puritan governor of Maryland. Elizabeth Martiau, the oldest daughter was born at Elizabeth City in 1625. Through her marriage to Col. George Reade, she was ancestress of the Warner Hall Lewis family.

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Nicholas MARTIAU Fr. Hugnt. b: 02 APR 1591 in Nantes, Indre-et-Loire, Centre, France

Legal representative in Virginia of Henry Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon. Married 1st Elizabeth, 2nd Jane widow of Lieut. Edward Berkeley, 3rd Isabella widow of Robert Felgete and George Beech.(Submitted by Daniel Estefano, 9/27/2012)

Martiau appeared in the first Virginia census of 1623 and became a member of the House of Burgesses, the oldest continuous legislative body in the western hemisphere. His marriage to the widow of a prominent settler further established his position, and the prominence of his descendent, George Washington, affirmed his intellect and acumen.(Celebrate Yorktown Committee notes 2/17/2013)

Strangely the muster of January 1624-25, reveals that Nicholas Martiau came to the colony aboard the "Francis Bona Venture", a 240-ton ship. Captain Martiau went to Virginia as the legal representative of the fifth Earl of Huntington. On October 8, 1630, the Virginia Council passed a decree granting 50 acres of land to every person who would settle within a year or two on the York in the Chiskiake (Yorktown) area. Captain Martiau moved onto the York peninsula, settling at the Yorktown on the York River. The Captain had 600 acres confirmed to him for moving to Chiskiake the first year, plus 700 more acres for paying for the adventure of other headrights, in March 1639. This total of 1,300 acres had the chief commodity of tobacco. Years later, Captain Martiau was granted letters-patent for 2,000 acres on the south side of the Potomac River (1654); he gave this tract to his son-in-law, Colonel George Reade, who had patent on it dated March 1657. He would buy and sell other minor properties over the years. (Ref: Extracted from Jonathan Kennon Smith notes on Captain Nicolas Martiau, Lib of Wm & Mary College)

In 1931, an 11 foot Vermont granite monument, with comemorative bronze plaque was erected near the site of Martiau's home and graveyard on Ballard and Buckner Streets, in the village of Yorktown. The monument was erected by the Huguenot Society of Pennsyvania, in cooperation with the National (Federation of) Huguenot Societies and the Yorktown Sesquicentennial Commission.(Ref: Jonathan K. Smith notes as above.)

The National Park Service (NPS) exhumed his body in May 1936 from the original grave on Buckner Street in the family cemetery. The NPS concluded the body as in grave number 6 was likely at of Nicolas Martiau. (Ref: The Huguenot Publication No. 12, 1943-45)

1656-57: will of Nicholas Martineau dated March 1, 1656 - 7, and proved April 4, 1757, names three daughters:

  • Elizabeth, his eldest daughter was the wife of George Reade;
  • Mary married John Scasbrook, of York County; and
  • Sarah married Captain William Fuller, distinguished Puritan governor of Maryland.

These daughters were probably by the second wife, Jane, widow of Edward Berkeley. Martieau's French wife and children probably did not survive "the seasoning period." Nicholas was the common ancestor of George Washington, Robert E. Lee and many other eminent Virginians.

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Capt. Nicholas Martiau's Timeline

April 2, 1591
Loire-Atlanticique, Pays de la Loire, France
Age 31
Elizabeth City, , Virginia, USA
December 12, 1625
Age 34
Elizabeth City County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
Age 33
Elizabeth City, Norfolk, Virginia, USA
Age 35
Elizabeth City County, Virginia Colony
November 1629
Age 38
Elizabeth City County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
Age 64