CPT Nicolas Martiau

CPT Nicolas Martiau

Saint-Martin-de-Ré, Departement de la Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes, France
Death 16 Apr 1657 (aged 66)
Yorktown, York County, Virginia, USA
Burial Yorktown, York County, Virginia, USA
Plot E13
Memorial ID 7831230 View Source
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Adventures of Purse and Person, VIRGINIA, 1607-1624/5, vol 2, pgs 503-5
*1. Capt. NICHOLAS MARTIAU, French Protestant, naturalized in England before sailing for Virginia on the Francis Bonaventure in the spring of 1620, came to the colony as one of two agents of the Earl of Huntington. He settled at Elizabeth City where he was listed in the census, 1623/4, and also in the muster, Feb. 1624/5 (as Capt. Nicholas Martue), when his age is given as 33 years.
Following the Indian massacre of 22 March 1621/2, Capt. 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 1623/4.
Upon the decision of the Governor and Council, 8 Oct. 1630, to open the region of Indian settlement at Chiskiake on the Pamunkey [York] River to English colonists, Capt. Martiau sought land there. His patent for 1300 acres in Charles River [York] County, 14 March 1639/40, recites that 600 acres were "due him for the adventures of himself, his wife and 10 persons the first year to Chiskiake," during which year a special dividend of land was allocated to the settlers, and that the remaining 700 acres were due him "for transportation at his own expense of 14 persons into the Colony: Captain Nicholas Martiau, Mrs. Jane his wife, Nicholas Martiau his son, Elizabeth Martiau his daughter, Jane Barkeley her daughter..." He was named in an Act of Assembly, 6 Jan. 1639/40, as a tobacco viewer from the lower side of the parish to the eastern side of Capt. Utye's Creek.
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 County, serving from 1633 until his death, 1657, the records showing that court was held at times at his home.
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 coloney which were a prelude to the "Thrusting out of Sir John Harvey" as governor of Virginia, 1635. In this first rebellion against autocratic rule, Capt. Martiau was a leader, having been one of the three spokesmen at a meeting of discontented colonists held at Yorktown.
At least twice there arose in Virginia some question as to Nicholas Martiau's legal status as an English citizen. 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 Oct. 1627. Again, an order of Assembly drawn 28 March 1656 and recorded in Northampton County recites that Captain Nicholas Martiau "obtayned his Dennisation in England" and could hold any office or public employment in Virginia.
Nicholas Martiau married (1) ___ and (2) *"Mrs. Jane," whose daughter *Jane Barkeley was named a headright in Martiau's patent, 1639/40. *Lieut. Edward Barkley, his wife Jane, who came in the Seaflower, which arrived in Feb. 1621/2, and daughter Jane were living at Hog Island in the muster, 1624/5. On 5 July 1627 Mrs. Jane Martiau appeared in court and delivered an inventory of the estate of *"Left. Edward Bartley, dec'd." Nicholas Martiau married (3), before 5 Nov. 1646, Isabella (Sibella) ___, widow of Capt. Robert Felgate, who named her in his will dated 30 Sept. 1644, and of George Beech, deceased by 26 Sept. 1646 when Martiau is recorded as his administrator. On 5 Nov. 1646 the York County court ordered that William Pryor was due 337 pounds of tobacco "under the hand of Isabella Beech," and included in the order that "Capt. Nicholas Martiau whoe hath enter maryed with the said Isabella Beech shall make payment" out of his own crop within ten days.
A transcript of Nicholas Martiau's will, 1 March 1656/7-24 April 1657, does not mention his wife, who apparently predeceased him, but does name three daughters, three sons-in-law and mentions but does not name grandchildren and provides for the liberation of two slaves with an allotment of land to each.
Issue: (by 1) 2. Nicholas, named as a headright in his father's patent, apparently died young as he is not named in his father's will; 3. ELIZABETH (by 2): 4. MARY; 5. SARAH.
footnotes 15 & 16, on pg 505
15: Martiau's letter to the Earl of Huntington, 12 Dec. 1625 (Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.) says "I am now both a husband & a father & so constrained to staye a while longer ... until my little ones can rise & follow mee."
16: Gravestone, Grace Church, Yorktown, Va. His and his wife's gravestones were discovered during street excavations in Yorktown in 1931. The inscriptions on both were recut with errors. George Reade's stone now states he died Oct. 1674, "he being in the 66th yr of his age." Since the date should be 1671 (per his will), either the age shown, or his year of birth, is in error as well. His baptism is not recorded in the parish register of Linkenholt, Hampshire, where all of his brothers and sisters are recorded (John Bennett Boddie, Historical Southern Families, II [Redwood City, Calif., 1958, pp. 176-78]). Either 1605 or 1608 is possible, considering the known dates of baptism of his siblings. The gravestone of Elizabeth (Martiau) Read now states she was born in 1625 and died in 1696, "being in ye 71st yeare of her age." Since the year of death should be 1686 (per her will), again the age or year of birth is in error. Since Nicholas Martiau claimed his son Nicholas and daughter Elizabeth as headrights (see note 4), but not the children of his (2) wife, it would appear that either Elizabeth was born prior to his arrival in Virginia in 1620 or that his family had visited England and the claim was made following a second arrival in the colony. Martiau's use of the plural "ones" in referring to his children in his letter of 12 Dec. 1625 (see note 15) and the fact that his (2) wife was still married to Edward Barkley in February 1624/5, coupled with the fact that Thomas and Benjamin Reade were still under age when Elizabeth made her will, 10 Feb. 1685/6, although Benjamin was certainly of age when he shared in the division of his brother's estate, 12 Nov. 1688, indicate a 1625 birth for Elizabeth but almost certainly require her placement as a child of Martiau's (1) wife.
[nb: "ye" is a rendering of how "the" was printed. nb: Thomas and Benjamin Reade are sons of Elizabeth]
(Contribution by Wendy Janey)
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 commemorative 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 Pennsylvania, 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)
See Martiau Family Cemetery in FIND A GRAVE for additional details on the original burial site.

Family Members




Gravesite Details Reinterments actually was held in a ceremony on May 30, 1941. The skeletal remains were found in 1936.