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Martin Genealogy and Martin Family History Information

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About the Martin surname

Ancient History

Researchers have pieced together the works of legend and tradition, and compiled documentary evidence using books by O’Hart, McLysaght and other Irish historians, and transcripts from the Book of Kells, the Falaise Rolls, Battel Abbey Rolls, the Wace poem, Irish parish records, and ancient land grants. Their conclusions are that the first record of the name Martin was found in County Galway (Irish: Gaillimh) part of the province of Connacht, located on the west coast of the Island, where they had been granted lands by Strongbow after the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1172, and became one of the “Tribes of Galway.”

MARTIN is an Anglicized surname for a much older, ancient proto-Celtic tribe, who arrived in Ireland roughly 2000 years ago. The Mairtine are noted in the Book of Munster and other historical documents. Later surname variations include Mac Giolla Mhártain, Ó Maol Mhartain, Ó Martain, Ó Máirtín, Mac Máirtín, Mac Máel Martain and were probably distantly related from a Celtoid root stock.

Recent DNA evidence has this group in Ireland for 3000 years and aligning with the Ulaidh, Errain, and the Eóghanacht in Munster and later in the Dal Riata kinship groups.

Spelling Variations

Confusion in spelling arose when families attempted to translate the surname from the Gaelic to English, or vice versa. Although your name, Martin, occurred in many references, from time to time the surname was recorded as Gilmartin, Kilmartin, MacKilmartin, MacGilmartin and Martin and these changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. It was not uncommon for a person to be born with one spelling, married with another, and to have yet another recorded at his wake. The O’ prefix, or Mc prefix, was dropped or assumed depending on the fashion of the time. Church officials and scribes interpreted the name either in English or in Gaelic, spelling it just as it sounded.

Early History

The ancient Milesian Kings, specifically, the grandson of Breoghan(Brian), King of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castile and Portugal, were the ancient progenitors of the Dalcassian race. Milesius, a great general/king was instrumental in defending Egypt from the King of Ethiopia. In gratitude, the Pharaoh of Egypt gave his daughter, Scota, to Milesius for his wife. Later, Milesius sent his uncle northward from Spain with his own son Lughaidh to explore the western Isles. This was to fulfill an ancient Druidic prophecy.

On finding that his son had been murdered in Ireland by the three resident Kings(the Danans), Milesius gathered an army to take his revenge on the Irish. He died before he embarked on the trip. His remaining eight sons conquered Ireland and renamed it the land of the Scoti. The four Irish kingdoms (Heremon, Heber, Ir and Ithe) eventually broke into five separate nations under one High King, or Ard Righ.

Dermot McMurrough, in his fight for the position of Ard Righ, in 1172 requested King Henry II of England for assistance. This was the first intrusion into Ireland of the Anglo/Normans who had been waiting for such an opportunity. Many native Irish noble families lost their land and possessions. Henry of England commanded the Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed Strongbow, to help Dermott in his fight for the crown of Ireland. Strongbow recruited 2000 trained mercenaries, Norman nobles trained in the tradition of those warriors who had performed so well at Hastings, soldiers of Norman, Welsh or Cornish background from south Wales, and sailed for Ireland. Many of these Normans, land owners and their knights and squires, were direct descendants of those nobles who had fought at the Battle of Hastings and been granted lands in south Wales and south-western England.