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Abraham MARTIN dit L'ESCOSSAIS - Misc

Ency. Can. Goelier of Canada 1972. Vol. 6, p. 394. Martin, Abraham, pioneer settler; b. about 1587, in Scotland - hence his nickname of L'Ecossais; d. at Québec, 8 Sep 1664. He came to Canada some time after 1614, probably in 1619 or 1620, and was for many years in the service of the Company of One Hundred Associates. He was one of the few French settlers to remain in Québec after its surrender to the English in 1628. On the heights of Québec he acquired a large tract of land - now known as the Plains of Abraham - which perpetuates his name. He became a pilot and in 1647 was named a Royal pilot. In 1613 he married Marguerite Langlois; they had several daughters and on son, Charles Amador, who became a priest, served in several local parishes and taught at the Québec Seminary. Martin is thought to have been the father of another daughter by a previous marriage.

Source:, interesting article posted by Janet Manseau, 13 July 2008

"Only a few decades after the discovery of Canada by Jacques Cartier, the establishment of New-France began. The foundation of Tadoussac in 1599, marks one of the first steps of the French establishment in America. The installation of a settlement of fur traders at this place, constitutes a center of attraction, which catches the attention of France. The commercial activity thus created requires the occupation of the land and this event is what gives the French the idea of sending people to the colonize of the territory."

"In 1608, Champlain founded Québec, but it was necessary to wait ten years before seeing the arrival of the first colonists. Thus in 1618, Abraham Martin-dit-l'Ecossais, the first Canadian pilot, his wife Marguerite Langlois, her sister Francoise and her brother-in-law Pierre Desportes sailed in the new town of Québec."

"Abraham MARTIN dit Ecossais was reported to have been on the sailboat LE SALLEMANDE that left France for Tadoussac on 30 August 1620. His origin is unknown and he could not sign his name. His nickname was l'Ecossais (the Scottish), undoubtedly started because of his Scottish ancestry. Certain authors suggest that he would have preserved this nickname because it was used to mask the identity of the army deserters. Martin, along with Louis Hebert, was one of the first colonists of Québec. He put aside his title of "King's Pilot", and became a farmer like almost all the inhabitants of this new country. He receives his land from Champlain in 1617."

"Below is information about the first three children of Abraham Martin-dit-L'Escossois and Marguerite Langlois born before Kirke captured Québec from Champlain."

"1. History tells us that Abraham's son Eustace was the first European child born and baptized in the new colony. Jette has his baptismal date as 24 Oct 1621 in Québec City. His cousin Helene Desportes according to Jette was baptized in Québec on 7 Jul 1620 PRDH did not record this. There is a possibility that she was born while crossing the Atlantic."

"2. Marguerite born on 4 Jan 1624, married Étienne Racine whose descendants gave two Bishops to the Canadian nation."

"3. Helene born 21 Jun 1627, was the goddaughter of Samuel de Champlain (founder and governer of Québec). She married Claude Étienne and later Medard Chouinart of Groseillers.
Sir David Kirke and his brothers Louis and Thomas captured the Québec on July 24, 1629 on behalf of England."

"After Kirke captured Québec, Abraham Martin with his wife and their three children went back to France and returned again about 1633. In 1635, the Company of New France made him a gift of 12 arpents. (One arpent is equal to about one and a half English acres of land). A few years later, he received in gift from Adrien d'Chesne of 20 arpents of land. He acquires the remainder of his property by buying part of the ground of the Ursuline Nuns. He then occupies a total of 32 arpents. The limits of his property extend over a vast territory. Abraham's land was contained between the streets of Sainte-Geneviève, which goes down to the Protestant cemetery; the street Claire-Fountain which passes in front of St. Jean's church; the grand road St. Jean and in line with the peak of the Sainte-Geneviève and ends at the coast of Abraham. The coast of Abraham bears his name because he went there to water his herd at the Saint-Charles river. As for the Plains of Abraham, they also bear his name because the land belonged to him.
The offspring of Abraham Martin, nine children, started the population of this New French colony. The Martin name, however was not carried on since his three sons never married."

"Jette claims that their son Adrien may be listed as Jean 43 years old in the 1681 at the house of the 'Jesuits of Notre Dame des Anges'.
Their son Charles Amador Martin became a priest on 14 Mar 1671. He was a singer and musician. In the 1681 census he was at the Seminar of Québec. He was Canon of the first chapter of Québec on 8 Nov 1684."

"On 15 Feb 1649, Abraham Martin was imprisoned for bad conduct towards a young girl, this may or may not have discredited him with his fellow-citizens.
About the imprisonment of Martin the Jesuits recorded this: the Journal des Jésuites for 1649. Little is recorded for January outside of the usual list of New-year's gifts; but " on the pith, occurred the first execution by the hand of the hangman, in the case of a Creature of 15 or 16 years, a thief." At the same time, Abraham Martin is imprisoned on a scandalous charge connected with this poor girl; but "his trial is postponed till the arrival of the vessels".
PRDH #94027 states:
Lieu indéterminé (au Québec) (Journal des Jésuites) 1649-01-19
"UNE CREATURE DE 15 OU 16 ANS" (a creature of 15 or 16 years).• "LARONESSE EXECUTEE DE LA MAIN DU BOURREAU" (Thief executed at the hand of hangman).
I have not found anything about where or for how long Martin was imprisonned. It appears that his scandalous charge (presumed to be rape) was less important then a young 15-16 year old creature being hung after being accused of thief. On the web someone claims that this young girl was told to confess to the crime of thief or she would have her hands cut off before being hung. I am not sure that this was true; however it sounds like something that could have happened at the time."

"Years later historians found his trail in the local, popular culture where his name was inscribed--first in the topography of Québec under the French regime and then in notaries records making reference to Abraham's Coast. A Street named Abraham appears in a 1734 Québec City map. Then, later, we find his name preserved in reports of the celebrated historic battles of 1759 and 1760. There were accounts signed by English officers and published in London as well as in the journal of New France's Chevalier de Levi."

"In 1863 the historian, J. B. A. Ferland began to follow the track of the great curate Thomas Maguire. M. Maguire 'suggested that a part of the Plains had belonged to an individual by the name of Abraham." In consulting civil registers for the parish of Notre Dame de Québec during the time of the French regime, Ferland found only one person with the first name Abraham: Abraham Martin, called l'Ecossais [the Scot], who was shown as a royal pilot. He was our man."

"The name Abraham MARTIN also appears in the controversial will Champlain signed in November 1635, two months before his death. Canadian history was young then and still in the making. The original will was not discovered until 324 years later, in August 1959 to be exact, by the historian and archivist Olga Jurgens, and published in 1963. In his will, Champlain "gives to Abraham and his wife 600 livres with the charge of using it to clear land in this country of New France." The founder also gave 600 livres to Marguerite, daughter of Abraham, "to support her in marrying a man of this country--New France--and no other." The original will stated clearly that if Champlain should leave little or nothing in goods and Québec properties to his widow, he wanted her to have the largest part of his inheritance in France."

"In 1635 Abraham Martin accepted, from the Company of New France, a land grant of 12 arpents in Québec. Another parcel of 20 arpents was added 10 years later. The combined land was well-situated in the upper town, but north of the present Grand Allée, on what was at that time called St-Genevieve Hill. For this reason Abraham Martin's land should not be confused with the Plains today. What may also be seen from this little history is that should a man take his animals down to the Charles River to drink, in taking the road of descent he would come to the Coast of Abraham. We discover in a notary’s act dated 16 October 1675 the name Charles-Amador Martin, only surviving son of Abraham. Priest and co-inheritor, Charles-Amador cedes to the religious order of Ursulines, 32 arpents of land situated in a place called Claire-Fontaine in exchange for the sum of 1200 livres, a small fortune at the time."

"In the decisive battles of 1759 and 1760 French and English soldiers played a prominent role in insuring that the topographical name Abraham was engraved in the historical record. The Chevalier de Levi mentioned in his journal on 19 July 1759 that the English "have four ships passing above the town and in consequence will be able to send dispatches via the Heights of Abraham and as far as Cap Rouge." On the same day the troops of Wolfe and Montcalm clashed, 13 September 1759, a Captain in an English regiment, John Knox, wrote in his journal, later published under the title The Siege of Québec, that once landed at the foot of the cliff, they did not stop, "till we comes to the Plains of Abraham."
Another English officer, John Montresor, wrote a book published in London and titled The General Battle of the Heights of Abraham. If the land of Abraham Martin was not contiguous with the present Plains, the battle of 1759, on the other hand, really and truly was fought on the Plains of Abraham and on the ancient property of Abraham Martin. The great historic battle raged all over the upper town. The French and English troops had taken position on the cliff as far as the Sainte Foy Road and Parliamentary Hill--today approximately up to Rue Belvedere. Reckoning from the beginning of the English regime, local cartography considerably expanded the dimensions of the Coast of Abraham and the Plains. Abraham's hillside covered the continuation west of St. Genevieve's Hill up to Rue Suéte which leads to St-Foye at Lorette."

"Regarding the Plains of Abraham, more often called the "Heights of Abraham," the topographical name usually appeared on maps designating a large part of the upper town outside the ramparts. It was not until 1879 that city maps delineated exactly as it is known today. In 1908 the federal government created Battlefield Park. But for the people of Québec it will always be the Plains of Abraham or simply the Plain. This was a popular and gratuitous tribute to the earliest setters of the country."

"Each time has its own history. After the Conquest, the British Empire could not abandon the location of its victory to anonymity. The place name had to be in accord with the importance of the event. Historians Jacques Mathieu and Alain Beaulieu advance an interesting theory in their monumental history of the Plains published in 1993 by Septentrion. For them, the 1759 conqueror preserved the popular name believing that it referred to the Biblical patriarch. They write: For people of the Protestant faith, strongly imbued with Biblical tradition, the designation "Abraham" makes use of a major symbolic power. The conquerors could not fail to see themselves in the image of the great prophet. It was in this way, through a series of misunderstandings, that a colorless colonist had his name immortalized. History has kept the secret!"

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