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Nicholas Martiau, French Huguenot

July 2, 2013 , , ,

In 1635 My 10th great-grandfather participated in a political act in the Virginia Colony that landed him in trouble:

A Principal in the Overthrow of a Capricious Ruler

York History Series #A-5, April 1997by (the late) Dick Ivy, Honorary NMDA Member

Hearing of secret and unlawful meetings since January by some of his councilors concerning decisions of his rulership of Virginia, Governor Sir John Harvey apprehended and committed their “chief actors” William English, Nicolas Martiau and Francis Pott. On Apr. 28, 1635, the Governor’s Councilors Samuel Matthews, John Utie, Thomas Harwood, William Perry, William Farrer, William Peirce, George Menefie and Dr. John Pott came to the governor-called council meeting at his house. John Utie of Yorke’s Chiskiak Parish hit the governor hard on his shoulder and declared he was under arrest for treason. The others held him secure and told him to go back to England to answer the complaints against him. They set Martiau and others free and called for their force of 50 musketmen waiting at a short distance. On May 7, 1635, the councilors met at James Town, opened the floor to complaints, and elected Capt. John West as governor. The complaint included the giveaway to please the King of the Isle of Kent to Maryland by a willing Harvey for persecuted Catholics from England, ignoring the ownership claim by William Claiborne who was trading with the Indians here. A war ensued between forces from Maryland and Claiborne when the latter refused to become a Catholic, it is said. Martiau was granted 1,600 acres of land that year. The King reinstated Harvey and the rebels were ordered to appear at the King’s Star Court, but were never tried for an unknown reason. Finally, Harvey was recalled over another incident of poor judgment.

Capt Nicolas Martiau (1591, France-1657) & Jane Page Berkeley
Capt. Martiau [also recorded as Marlier, Martue, Martin, Martian] was a French Huguenot (in church of Threadneedle St.) from the Island of Ré. He was in the service of Henry Hastings, 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. He, with Captain George Utie and Captain Samuel Mathews, was responsible for sending the tyrant governor Harvey back to England.
There is some question about his wives. His first wife was Elizabeth, last name and date of death unknown. She was most likely the mother of Elizabeth (born 1625). Jane was the widow of Lt. Edward Berkeley, who died in 1625; they had a child named Jane. . After her death, Nicholas married Isabella, widow of Robert Felgete & George Beech, in 1646.
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 headrights, where he grew tobacco. On this land Cornwallis surrendered his troops to Martiau’s great-great-great-grandson, General George Washington in 1781. Martiau later was granted 2000 acres on the south side of the Potomac River, which he gave to Col. George Reade in 1657. (See John Baer Stoudt, Nicolas Martiau, The Adventurous Huguenot, The Military Engineers, and the Earliest American Ancestor of George Washington.)

Nicholas French Huguenot Martiau (1591 – 1657)

is my 10th great grandfather
daughter of Nicholas French Huguenot Martiau
daughter of MARY Jane Martiau
daughter of Martha Scarisbrook
daughter of Martha Cary
son of Mary Jacquelin
son of Johannes John SCHMIDT SMITH
son of Henry Smith
son of Swain Smith
daughter of Jerimiah Smith
son of Minnie M Smith
son of Ernest Abner Morse
I am the daughter of Richard Arden Morse
I can now join yet another organization about being descended..the NMDA.

Martin, Marten, Martens, Martyn (French, Spanish, English) Descendant of Martinus [belonging to the god Mars, the god of war]; one who came from Martin, the name of places in Spain and France. The popularity of the name in Western Europe is due to St. Martin of Tours, the fourth century French saint.
Source: New Dictionary of American Family Names by Elsdon C. Smith, Gramercy Publishing Company, New York, 1988.

Nicolas Martiau – The Immigrant

This portion of the Family Roots and Branches is dedicated to the study of Nicolas Martiau (pronounced Mar-ti-o) and his descendants.

“The Adventurous Huguenot” and the father of Yorktown, Virginia, was born in France 1591, came to Virginia in 1620 and died in 1657 at Yorktown, Virginia. He was a Captain in the Jamestown militia during the Indian uprisings, a member of the Colonial Virginia House of Burgesses, and Justice of the County of York. In 1635 he was a leader in the thrusting out of Governor Harvey which was the first opposition to British Colonial Policy. He is the original patentee for Yorktown. He is buried at the Grace Church in Yorktown, Virginia.

Descendants of Nicolas are through his daughters, Mary (married Lt. Colonel John Scarsbrook), Sarah (married Captain William Fuller, Puritian governor of Maryland), and Elizabeth (married Lt. Col. George Reade). Nicolas is the earliest American ancestor of our first President George Washington.

Among the descendants of Nicolas Martiau we find – in addition to Washington – one Vice President of the United States, two Justices of the Supreme Court, three ministers to foreign countries, three cabinet officers, six governors of states, eight senators, eleven generals involved in the War Between the States, fifteen congressman, forty commissioned officers who served in the American Revolution,

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and a veritable host of men and women prominent in national life. Such names as General Thomas Nelson, a signer of the Declaration of Independance; Meriwether Lewis, explorer of Lewis and Clark fame; Duff Green; Thomas Nelson Page and Amelia Rives are of special interest.

In the early 20th century the registrar of the Colonial Dames of America in the state of Virginia contains the names of more than four hundred women who could trace their lineage to Nicolas Martiau.

Nicolas Martiau is my 15th great grandfather and one of two of my earliest American ancestors. Here is my line of descendent from that adventurous Hugenout – Nicolas Martiau:

Larry Van Horn, NMDA Member #174 (Scar(s)brook-Condon-Wills)

1. Nicolas Martiau & Jane ? (Berkley)
2. John Scar(s)brook & Mary Martiau
3. David Condon & Elizabeth Scar(s)brook
4. Elias Wills & Mary Condon
5. John Wills & Susanna Robertson
6. James Cole & Mary Wills
7. James Cole & Fanny Chisman Wills
8. Ware Oglesby & Elizabeth Dancy Cole
9. Aaron Redus & Lucy Ann Oglesby
10. James Ware Redus Jr & Leah Magee
11. Alexander Hamilton David Hurt & Mary Susan Redus 12. James Ira Hurt & Johanna Himena Schneider
13. Witt Lange Van Horn and Jeanette Iris Hurt

Nicolas Martiau Descendants – The First Six Generations

The link below is to an Adobe Acrobat PDF Descendants Chart that shows six generations of Nicolas Martiau Descendants. If you are a descendant of any of the below listed in this chart you are eligible for membership in the Nicolas Martiau Descendant Association (see below). The lines represented on this chart are lines that are accepted for membership in the NMDA. As more information is entered into our genealogy database, new charts will be placed on this website and the NMDA website. Be sure to check for these pages for future updates.

Nicolas Martiau Six Generation Descendants Chart (Adobe Acrobat format) The NMDA Lineage SocietyNicolas Martiau Descendant Association

Genealogist who can prove descend from Nicolas Martiau are eligible for membership in the Nicolas Martiau Descendant Association (NMDA). The NMDA was started in 1991. Two first cousins from California went to Yorktown to meet Dick Ivy (recently deceased), the Towne Crier and Historian, for a tour of the Martiau Family sites. One cousin fell and injured a knee, was propped up by the wall of the Grace Church cemetery. A lone man was in the mist, reading inscriptions. He paused at theColonel George Reade/Elizabeth Martiau stone, not aware of the Martiau Family buried there without a marker. This one act prompted the chain of events culminating in the first Tribute to Martiau held in 1993 and the 1997 grave marker dedication. A second Tribute was held in the Spring of 2000 and the third was held Spring 2004 in Yorktown. The cousins were Lee Yandell and Marty Dale. (Reade- Reade-Wattington).

The NMDA had over 182 members nationwide. I have the honor of serving as the National Registrar for this proud and prestigous lineage based organization. You can get more information on the NMDA by contacting me, Larry Van Horn, via email (link at bottom of this webpage) or visiting the official NMDA website at:

Nicolas Martiau Descendant Association

At this website you can download lineage and application formsin pdf format to aid you in the application process. On the website you will find selected members lineages, news, events, history and much more.

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I’m always so inspired by how well you know your ancestors and lineage! It reminds me that I should make more of an effort to get as much family history as possible.


Jess @UsedYorkCity

July 3, 2013

that’s an exciting chapter in history.. and one that would make a great book.


Hi I just found this, I notice the post says there’s a link to a Martiau descendants chart, but there isn’t a link. Do you know if it still exists? I’ve found evidence that I may be descended from Elias Wills and Mary Condon.

Thx so much.


Noah Gooding

March 11, 2019

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