Nicholas Martiau

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.

Captain Martiau built his home on his land in what is now Yorktown, Virginia, on a bluff overlooking the York River.

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.

On Memorial Day, May 30, 1941, the remains of the eighteen persons were re-interred in the Colonial Grace Episcopal Churchyard in Yorktown.

“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.”

12 replies »

  1. Very interesting pictures! I arrived at your blog by looking up NIcholas Martiau because I just discovered that he is my earliest American ancestor, as well. My line comes through his daughter, Sarah Martiau Fuller. Thanks for providing all of this extra information!

  2. I to am related to Col George Reade and Elizabeth Martiau. I descend from the Nash line, Col Thomas Nash married Mary Hill Reade. Her father was Clement Reade SR. and his father was Thomas Reade.

  3. Thank you for the information on Nicholas Martiau. You are very precise and provide much needed information. According to Ancestry.com, Nicholas Martiau is the great grandfather of husband of sister-in-law of 1st cousin 7x removed. Distant relation.

  4. Hi! I’m related to Nicholas through my 12th g-grandfather Col. Govenor George Reade, He married Elizabeth Martiau in 1641, I’m also related to George Washington, General Lee, & I believe the Queen of England through their daughter Mildred Reade, Who married Col. Augustine Warner Jr. Thank you for the info.

  5. The York County Historical Museum has items from an archaeological dig of an area that we believe includes a fort possibly designed by Martiau.

  6. Hello, I am doing some research on enslaved people’s in Yorktown, specifically documentation of those involved in construction of Grace Church. I a a member of Grace and live a block away on the hill that was once Martiau’s fort. I trust you have seen the artifacts from that archaeological dig in the mud 1990’s. Any information, links, etc. Would be appreciated. Thank you, Belinda Willis, Yorktown, Va

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