Select Martin Surname Genealogy

There was a famous fourth century saint, St. Martin of Tours, and, because of him, the name became extremely popular throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, especially in Mediterranean countries and in Normandy in France. 

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Martin remains a common surname in Spain and France, as well as in England.  Martins today run about: 
  • 600,000 in Spain  
  • 220,000 in France  
  • versus 153,000 in the UK.  
Martins from France in particular have added to the Martin numbers in America and Canada.  In France they have been mainly concentrated in the Normandy region of northern France (where Martin is the second most common surname today).  Blessed Louis Martin, the father of Saint Therese, came from Normandy.

  The Normans brought to the name to England.  William Martyn de Tours joined up with William the Conqueror and was granted Combe Martin in Devon.  His family became the FitzMartins.  Another FitzMartin family owned Blagdon Manor in Somerset.  However, both of these lines apparently died out about 1350. Clusters of Martins were also to be found at an early date in Sussex, near where the Normans had landed. 

The names Martin has remained strong in the southwest of England, in both Devon and Cornwall, as well as in the southeast.  The variant Martyn is evident in Cornwall. 

Martin family was established at Anstey village in Leicestershire from the 14th century.  A branch of this family built Leeds castle in Kent.  They had s strong seafaring side to them, as their numbers included Admiral Thomas Martin, Captain Matthew Martin, and John Martin who circumvented the world with Sir Francis Drake. 

Another Martin family, said to have originated from Dorset, was settled at Melford Place in Suffolk from the early 1400’s.  Roger Martin was a Catholic recusant during Elizabethan times; but these Martins, having supported the Royalist cause, became baronets in the next century.  They departed Melford Place in 1762. The last of the Martins died in India in 1854 with his mistress, leaving no heir.

Fleeing Huguenots from France brought the Martin name to England.  Jean Martin was a Huguenot exile in Sandwich, Kent in 1622.  There were 14 Martin exiles recorded as being naturalized in England between 1682 and 1702. 

The name Martin came with the Normans to Ireland, Thomas Martyn arriving in Galway around the year 1365.  These Martyns were one of the fourteen tribes of Galway at the time of Cromwell, by which time they had become Catholic in their sympathies

Richard Martin of this family was the founder of the RSPCA (Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals) in London in 1824.  He married twice and had various literary sons and daughters, but none so noteworthy as his son Thomas: 

“Following the revelation of his wife’s affair, he sued her for ‘criminal conversation’ and was awarded 10,000 pounds.  He had this distributed to the poor by throwing it out of the windows of his coach on the long journey back from London to Galway.”  

Martins also came to Ireland during the Protestant plantations.  Many of them settled in Tyrone where they became MacMartin or Gilmartin.  There were also some early Gaelic Martin-like names
- Fearghal O’Martain, for instance, had been Bishop of Killala from 1425 to 1432 - that became Martin during the English occupation.   

.  Early Martins or MacMartins in Highland Scotland were the MacMartins of Letterfinlay, associated with clan Cameron, and the Martins of Skye, associated with clan Donald.  Martin Martin of Skye (Martainn Martainn in Gaelic) was a travel writer of the Western Isles in the late 17th century.  

Christopher Martin and his family from Essex arrived on the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in 1620.  However, they all perished there that first winter. 

An early
Martin who remained was Peter Martin, a Huguenot refugee in Virginia sometime around 1700. Joseph Martin, the second son of a Bristol merchant, came to Virginia in the 1720’s and settled in Albemarle county.  His son Joseph was a brigadier general of the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War and later was an early settler in what was to become Tennessee.

Martin was also a Mennonite name and many Martins arrived in Philadelphia and settled in Pennsylvania in the years between 1722 and 1732.  Christian Martin, who arrived on the Plaisance in 1732, is considered the patriarch of these Martin Mennonite families.

.  Jacques Martin from La Rochelle in France was an early arrival with his family in Quebec sometime in the 1650’s.  Joseph Martin was born in Nova Scotia in 1736 but made the trek southward with other Acadians to Louisiana in the 1760’s.  However, some Martins – the Martins of Madawaska - managed to escape the deportation and remain. 

Paul Martin, Canada’s Prime Minister from 2003 to 2006, has an Irish immigrant background, his great grandfather having arrived from county Mayo in the late 19th century.

Select Martin Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Martin Names

Joseph Martin was an Indian trader and pioneer settler in what was to become Tennessee.
Lionel Martin founded the British car company Aston Martin.
Dean Martin, the Italian-American singer, was born Dino Crocetti.
George Martin was the record producer for the Beatles.
Paul Martin was Prime Minister of Canada between 2003 and 2006.
Steve Martin is an American comic actor.

Select Martins Today

  • 153,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 262,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 120,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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