B. 1589 (probably) in France
M. before 1620 in France
Wife: Marguerite Langlois
D. September 1664 in Quebec City, Quebec
Abraham Martin dit L'Ecossais was one of the earliest settlers in Quebec. He was born in 1589, probably in France, and was said to be illiterate, but everything else about his origins are unknown. Another mystery about Abraham is why he was called "dit L'Ecossais," which translates as "the Scotsman." Some say he served on ships that traveled to Scotland when he was a young man and others that it's a derogatory name given to deserters and those engaged in illegal activities. It's unlikely that Abraham was actually of Scottish descent.
Abraham may have been in New France as early as 1614 working as a ship's navigator for Jean de Biencourt, who was trying to set up a settlement in what later became Acadia. A few years later, maybe as early as 1617 or as late as 1620, Abraham was recruited by fur-trading interests to be amongst a small group of settlers going to Quebec.
Before sailing to Quebec, Abraham married Marguerite Langlois in France. The timing of his wedding may have been tied to the idea the settlement needed married men. The Martins are believed to have arrived with another couple, her sister Françoise who was married to Pierre Desportes. On October 21, 1621, Abraham and his wife saw the birth of their first child, a son they named Eustache. He would be considered the first European male born in what is now Canada. Between 1624 and 1648, Abraham and Marguerite had eight more children.
Abraham made his living as a river pilot, fishing around the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He also owned land in what would become Quebec City, amounting to 32 acres. It is said that Abraham led his animals down a path to the water and this area became known as Côte d'Abraham, or the Coast of Abraham. The area gained greater fame in 1759 as the site of a battle that decided the fate of Quebec when it fell into the hands of the British: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
During Abraham's life, the British forced another takeover of Quebec when in 1629, Englishman David Kirke sailed in and ordered the settlers to give up control of their land. Almost everyone went back to France, and Abraham and Marguerite were among them. By 1635, the family was back living in the colony after the French had returned to power.
Abraham had a relationship with Samuel de Champlain, Quebec's founder. Champlain was the godfather to one of Abraham's children in 1627. And when Champlain died in December 1635, he left 600 livres to Abraham so he could pay for clearing his land. Champlain also bequest 600 livres to Abraham's oldest daughter Marguerite, with the reason "to help her to marry a man of Canada." It's not known if these gifts were paid out because the will was contested by Champlain's cousin back in France and was overturned.
In 1649, Abraham was accused of raping an unnamed girl who was 15 or 16 years-old. The girl had been a thief and was hanged for her crime in January of that year. Abraham was imprisoned to be tried for the offense on February 15, 1649. It isn't known if his trial was held and speculation is that Jesuits later removed mention of it from the records.
Abraham died in Quebec City in September 1664. His wife Marguerite died a year later in December 1665. Abraham's only surviving son, Charles-Amador Martin, became a priest and sold his father's land to the Ursuline order in 1675.
Famous descendants of Abraham Martin include the Dionne Qunituplets, Madonna, Céline Dion and Alanis Morisette.
1. Eustache Martin – B. 24 Oct 1621, Quebec City, Quebec; D. before 1663
2. Marguerite Martin – B. 4 Jan 1624, Quebec City, Quebec; M. Etienne Racine, 22 May 1638
3. Helene Martin – B. 21 Jun 1627, Quebec City, Quebec; M. (1) Claude Etienne, 22 Oct 1640, Quebec City, Quebec; (2) Medard Chouart dit Groseillers, 3 Sep 1647, Quebec City, Quebec
4. Marie Martin – B. Apr 1635, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 25 Apr 1699, Chateau Richer, Quebec; M. Jean Cloutier (1620-1690), 21 Jan 1648, Quebec City, Quebec
5. Adrien Martin – B. Nov 1638, Quebec City, Quebec
6. Madeleine Martin – B. Sep 1640, Quebec City, Quebec; D. Feb 1688, Lachenaie, Quebec; M. (1) Nicolas Forget (?-1680), 6 Feb 1653, Quebec City, Quebec; (2) Jean-Baptiste Fonteneau dit Saint-Jean, 1 Feb 1681, Lachenaie, Quebec
7. Barbe Martin – B. Jan 1643, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 4 Oct 1660, Quebec City, Quebec
8. Anne Martin – B. 23 Mar 1645, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 14 Jan 1717, St-Pierre, Isle d'Orleans, Quebec; M. Jacques Ratté (~1630-1699), 12 Nov 1658, Quebec City, Quebec
9. Charles-Amador Martin – B. 6 Mar 1648, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 19 Jun 1711, Ste-Foy, Quebec
The Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. 2, William Stewart Wallace, 1945
Wikipedia article on The Plains of Abraham
Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles du Quebec, Jette, Rene, 1730
Hélène’s World: Hélène Desportes of Seventeenth Century Quebec, Susan McNelley, 2014
A Social History of Canada and Its People [website]
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]