Capt. Nicholas Martiau

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Capt. Nicholas Martiau

Also Known As: ""Father of Yorktown"", "Martin", "Martian", "Martieu", "Marlier", "Nicholas Martiau", "Nicholas de la Malier", "Nicholas Martiau (Martineu)", "Nicholas Marteaw"
Birthplace: Saint Martin De Ré, Charente-Maritime, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
Death: April 16, 1657 (66)
Yorktown, York County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
Place of Burial: Yorktown, York County , Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of 1st wife of Nicholas Martiau; Jane Martiau and Isabella Martiau
Father of Nicholas Martiau, Jr. (died young); Elizabeth Reade; Mary Scasbrook and Sarah Fuller

Occupation: Engineer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Capt. Nicholas Martiau

Nicolas Martiau

  • born 1591 in France
  • will dated 1 March 1656, proved 1657 in VA.
  • Parents unknown
  • Married 1) unknown 2) Jane, widow of Edward Berkeley 3) Isabella, widow Beech

Nicolas Martiau (1591–1657) was a Frenchman who immigrated to the English colony of Virginia in the 17th century. Born in the western island of Île de Ré, he is an ancestor of the first American president, George Washington.

An engineer, Nicholas Martiau was hired by the Virginia Colony in 1620 to survey and patent the land near what is now Yorktown, which led in 1632 to the establishment of a fort at Middle Plantation, later Williamsburg.


[Martieau's French wife and children probably did not survive " the seasoning period " - is this proven?]

In 1639 he obtained a patent for land at Yorktown due him on account of importing himself, Nicholas Marlier, wife Jane, Michlas, his son, Elizabeth Marlier, his daughter, and Jane Berkeley her daughter and several others "the first year to Chiskiack."

Edward Beverley died in 1625, so Nicholas married Jane after then.

Children of Nicholas Martiau and Jane (Unknown) Berkeley Martiau:

  1. Nicholas Martiau, Jr d before reaching majority
  2. Elizabeth Martiau; mar Col. George Read
  3. Mary Martiau; mar Col. John Searsbrook
  4. Sarah Martiau; mar Capt. William Fuller

Jane (Unknown) (Berkeley) Martiau died before 1640, and according to Stoudt, found in the County Court Records is the subsequent marriage of Nicholas to Isabella, widow Beech, who is not mentioned in his will, so must have predeceased him.



excerpts from Will of Captain Nicolas Martiau (1591-1657)

"Item I give and bequeath to my Daughter, Mary Scarsbrook, wife of John Scarsbrook soe much of my sd. Divydent of Land in York Parrish as is scituate and lying beyond the Swamp [vizt.] on the Southward side of that Swamp called commonly Broccas Swamp upon part of which the said John is now seated to be held by the sd. Mary and her heirs lawfully begotten & to be begotten forever with the appurtenances --"

Item I give and bequeath to my loveing Daughter Mary Scarsbrook & her heires forever the Mare Foale now runing wth. my mare wth. whole Increase Male & Female --

Item I give to my said Daughter Elizabeth and her heires my Grey Gelding but my Sonn John Scasbrook to make use of him for his occasions -- Two years after my decease when he shall desyre the same.

Item I give to my loveing sonn, George Read, Esq. all my weareing apparrell except my Stuff Suite and Coate and new Dimity Caster which I hereby bequeath to my Sonn John Scarsbrook and alsoe will that five pounds ready money now lying by me be equally divyded between my said Two Son in lawes

Item I give and bequeth to my above named Two loveing Daughters Elizabeth Read and Mary Scarsbrook for the good of themselves & their Children All the rest of my Estate whatsoever in Virginia or elsewhere to be equally divyded betweene them but this Divysyon not to be made untill all my Debts & Legacyes be satisfied which said severall Debts are to be paid out of the part of my Estate as is given to my said Two daughters & their Children without any Charge to my Daughter Sarah or her heires. ~~

Item lastly I doe by these presents nominate & appoint & Confirme my two beloved Daughters Elizabeth and Mary Joynt Executrixes of this my last Will & Testament to see the same performed and kept And in Confirmacon of this my said last Will & Testament & of every matter Course & thing therein conteyned I have hereto sett my hand and Seale this first day of March One Thousand Six hundred Fifty Six.

Nicholas Martian


"Sealed & Signed in the presence of [5]



When he wrote his will in 1656, Nicholas Martiau included two "negroes": Phill and Nicholas. In his will, Nicholas granted them their freedom and one cow each.[16] This may have been the first incidence of a bequest of freedom in the colonies.[5]


Nicholas Martiau was a Frenchman who immigrated to the English colony of Virginia in the 17th century. Nothing is known of his youth except that he has learned to read by studying the Gospels and the Bible. At the same time he impregnated the doctrine of Calvin, and he learned to speak English. But it is likely that, because of political and religious context of the time, he was forced into exile in England since it contains his signature on a register and a Huguenot church. In January 11, 1619, he was naturalised English. He married Englishwoman Jane Berkeley, daughter [SIC: widow] of Edward Berkeley. Nicholas and Jane had children, one of whom was a daughter Elizabeth Martiau (Martian).

On May 16, 1620, Nicolas Martiau, aged 29, left England on the Francis Bonaventure in August 1620 and arrived in Jamestown which he built fences defense which allowed the city to be spared in a massacre by the Indians in 1622. The success of this action earned him the title of "master engineer fences". - Wikipedia

George Reade married Elizabeth Martain, daughter of Captain Nicholas Martain, born in Belgium, and came to Virginia with her parents. Capt. Nicholas Martain represented Kent Island, York, and Cliiskiack, in the House of Burgesses, in 1632.


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Capt. Nicholas Martiau's Timeline

April 2, 1591
Saint Martin De Ré, Charente-Maritime, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
Age 27
Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, Pays de la Loire, France
Age 27
Age 27
Age 28
Tolland, Somerset, England, United Kingdom
Age 28
Tolland, Somerset, England, United Kingdom
December 12, 1625
Elizabeth City County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
Elizabeth City, , Virginia, USA