Abraham Martin


By Yolande St-Arneault

Échos génealogiques

Société de Généalogie des Laurentides

Volume XVII, #1, spring 2001


Translated by Lorelei Maison Rockwell, May 2002



Text Box: This insignificant historical person nevertheless gave his name to the Plains of Abraham and Abraham's Coast.
	He was one of the trivial actors in the history of New France. An obscure character. An antihero. Paradoxically he gave his name in perpetuity to two properties that are part of Champlain's city.



On 15 February 1649 the little colony was in shock. Abraham Martin, age 60, a companion of Champlain and the head of a large and respected family was thrown in prison. The accusation: he had forfeited the honor of a strapping young girl of 16 [translator's note: statutory rape?]. Certainly it would be said that this old pig Abraham had debauched a fine 'young thing.' Three months later his wife gave him his ninth, and last, child.


Abraham Martin arrived in Quebec in the summer of 1617--probably making the voyage in the same ship as Louis HÉBERT. His family accompanied him: his wife Marguerite LANGLOIS [translator's note: Jette[1] gives their date of marriage c 1620 'in France'], her sister Francoise and Francoise's husband Pierre DESPORTES. This couple would have a daughter Helene, who would become the goddaughter of Quebec's founder. This same Helene would marry, as a second husband, Medard Chouart des Groseillers, the colorful explorer, fur trader and co-founder of the Hudson's Bay Company.


From his arrival onwards our Abraham MARTIN was in no hurry to disappear into nameless obscurity in the tiny world of the first colony.


Years later historians found his trail in the local, popular culture where his name was inscribed--first in the topography of Quebec under the French regime and then in notarial records making reference to Abraham's Coast.


A street named Abraham appears in a 1734 Quebec 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.


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 Quebec properties to his widow, he wanted her to have the largest part of his inheritance in France.


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 Quebec 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.


In 1635 Abraham Martin accepted, from the Company of New France, a land grant of 12 arpents in Quebec. 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 notarial 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 Quebec, 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 Quebec it will always be the Plains of Abraham or simply the Plains. An affectionate name. 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!


Sources: "Les Plaines d'Abraham, le culte de l'idéal" de Jacques Mathieu et Eugen Kedl; le dictionnaire biographique du Canada, tome 1; Les Cahiers des Dix, no 42; la Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique français, no XVII.

Text publié dans le Soleil du dimanche le 4 mai 1997 et ecrit part Louis Guy Lemieux. Voir Internet http://www.lesoleil.com





Abraham Martin is Yolande St-Arneault's ancestor through 3 of his daughters: Anne, Marie, and Marguerite [more available here].Text Box: Charles-Amador Martin was the second Canadian priest. He was born at Quebec where he was baptized 7 March 1648 by Father LeJeune. He was the 9th child of Abraham Martin and Marguerite Langlois and he had as his godfather: Charles-Amador de St-Etienne, sieur de la Tour, who was famous for his bravery and loyalty to France during the wars in Acadia. In 1672 he built the first stone chapel at Beauport to replace the old wooden one. He continued to serve this parish until 1677, when he went to Sainte-Famille. On the erection of the Chapter House at Quebec, he became canon. He was named parish priest of Chateau-Richer in 1685. On 19 September 1697 he resigned the honor of canon and on the following 18 October he was named parish priest of Notre-Dame de Foye. He remained there until his death 19 June 1711 at the age of 63. A manuscript titled "On the devotion at Sainte-Famille by Mother Superior M-Andre Regnart-Duplessis de Sainte-Helene," we find that M. Martin was an expert chanter and that he composed the chant for the mass and divine service at Ste-Famille still used today.



She says:

I report the results of some of my research to flesh out the story of Abraham Martin.  [Translator's note: Abraham Martin is also my ancestor through his daughter Marguerite].


The family of Abraham MARTIN, dit L'Ecossais


His origin is unknown. He was buried 08/09/1664 in Quebec, age 75; arrived Quebec 1619, returned to France after the capture of Quebec by Kirke 24/07/1629, and returned to Quebec in 1633 or 1634, master pilot. [MSGCF (129): 162-164, T-27, DBC I 506-507, J.J.]


Married about 1620, France


LANGLOIS, Marguerite […] origin unknown; died 17, buried 19/12/1663, Quebec: sister of Francois wife of Pierre Desportes: Marguerite remarried in 1665 to Real Branche.


Eustache b 24-10-1621 Quebec d after 1663

Marguerite b 04-01-1624 Quebec m 1638 Etienne Rachine

Helene b 21-06-1627 Quebec m 1640 Claude Etienne

Marie b 22-11-1638 Quebec m 1648 Jean Cloutier

Adrien b 22-11-1638 Quebec [perhaps Jean, age 43 in the 1681 census at the      

          House of the Jesuits of Notre Dame of the Angles]

Madeleine b 12-00-1640 Quebec m 1653 Nicolas Foret

Barbe b 04-01-1643 Quebec m 1655 Pierre Biron

Anne b 23-03-1645 Quebec m 1658 Jacques Rate

Charles-Amador b 06-03-1648 Quebec d and buried 19-06-1711 Ste-Foy; in the

1681 census at the Quebec Seminary, priest 14-03-1671, chanter and musician, chanter of the 1st chapter-house of Quebec 06-11-1684 [DBC II 480]


Taken from Jetté: Dictionnaire genealogique des familles du Quebec


Note: Abraham could not sign his name. We don't know what caused the accusation causing him to be imprisoned. Taken from Les émigrants 1602-1662, Marcel Trudel.



The author closes with Madonna's ancestry traced back to Abraham Martin.




Abraham Martin Macomb County Ancestor

 June 2002

Lorelei Maison Rockwell




1-- Abraham Martin                       1589-1664

[see Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec, p 778, by René Jette]

+ Marguerite Langlois           ?--1665     

   2-- Marguerite  Martin        1624-1679

         + Etienne Racine         1607-1689

                 3--M Madeleine Racine  1646-1726

                       + Noel Simard         ?    -1715

4--Noel Simard    1664-1726

                               +Anne Dodier 1671-1728

                             5--Noel Simard dit Lombret 1695-1758

                                  +Catherine Fortin          1698-1739


                     6--Marguerite Simard                  1726-1771

                            +Ambrose Tremblay            c1712-1767

This couple CAME TO MI about 1750 and settled at Grand Marais, Grosse Pointe. Both were b. at Baie St Paul, PQ and died at Detroit.  


This line is published in Father Christian Denissen's FRENCH FAMILIES IN THE DETROIT RIVER REGION, 1701-1936, p 1180, #6.





[1] Jette, Rene, DICTIONNAIRE GENEALOGIQUE DES FAMILLES DU QUEBEC, des origines a 1730, Les Presses de l'Universite de Montreal, Montreal, 1983, p 778.

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