Nicholas Martiau – Early Colonial Ancestor
Nicholas Martiau is not only my earliest American ancestor, but also the earliest American ancestor of George Washington! George and I have a good thing in common!
Martiau was a French Huguenot, born in 1591, who came to Virginia in 1620. “The Huguenots were possessed of all those qualities which give nobility and grandeur to human nature,” says the historian Froude. Nicholas Martiau was naturalized in England before he came to Virginia. He was a personal representative of Henry, the fifth Earl of Huntington, a member of the Virginia Company. As a military engineer he built a line of fortifications from Jamestown Island to Yorktown and received several grants of land from the crown.
In 1936, archeologists of the National Park Service discovered a forgotten and neglected family burial ground in Yorktown, the skeletal remains of eighteen persons of the Colonial period, on what was Martiau’s land. The tombstones identified the ones of Nicholas Martiau’s son-in-law and daughter, Colonel George Read and Elizabeth Martiau Read, and by deduction those of Martiau and his first wife, Jane Bartley Martiau.
“Nicholas 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 Nicholas Martiau, 1591-1657, upon whose land the town of Yorke was founded in 1697. He was the earliest American Ancestor of General George Washington and Governor Thomas Nelson. Dedicated May 22, 1993.”