Medallion representing Nicolas Martiau.
Île de Ré, France
|Died||1657 (aged 65–66)
Colony of Virginia
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.
The garden behind the Ernest Cognacq Museum in Saint Martin de Ré holds a monument with a statue of George Washington, with the base of the monument featuring a medallion representing Martiau. The monument was inaugurated on October 11, 2007, by the ambassador of the United States to France. The filiation between the two men is described on the monument.
Nothing is known of Martiau's youth except that he had learned to read by studying the Gospels and the Bible. At the same time he absorbed the doctrine of Calvin, and learned to speak English. It is likely that, because of the political and religious context of the time, he was forced into exile in England since his signature is found on a register and a Huguenot church. On January 11, 1619, he was naturalised English. He married Englishwoman Jane Berkeley, widow of Sir Edward Berkeley. Nicolas Martiau's will written March 1, 1656/7, proven April 24, 1657, names daughters Elizabeth Reade, Mary Scarsbrook, Sarah Fuller, his three sons-in-law and provided freedom for slaves Phill and Nicholas. He also left one "heifer" to his servant Hugh Roy.
On May 16, 1620, Nicolas Martiau, aged 29, left England on the Francis Bonaventure in August 1620 and arrived in Jamestown which he built the fence 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".
Nicholas Martiau was married to Jane Berkeley, widow of Lieutenant Edward Berkeley. In 1646, he remarried Isabel (Isabella) Beech, widow of Robert Felgate and George Beech. He died in Yorktown, Virginia, in 1657.
- Nicolas Martiau – Jane Berkeley (1591–1657)
- Elizabeth Martiau – Colonel George Reade (1608–1674)
- Mildred Reade – Colonel Augustine Warner (1642–1684)
- Mildred Warner – Lawrence Washington (1659–1698)
- Augustine Washington – Mary Ball (1708–1789)
- George Washington (1732–1799)
- Robert E. Lee (1807–1870)
- Earl W. Bascom (1906–1995)