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Martin (name)

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Martin (name)

Martin may either be a surname or given name.

Gender Male
Word/name English,
Meaning Of Mars, Warlike Latin
Other names
Related names Martyn, Martti, Marta, Martina

Martin is a common given and family name in many languages. In some languages, and as a given name, it comes from the Latin name Martinus, which is a late derived form of the name of the Roman god Mars, the protective godhead of the Latins (and therefore the god of warring).[1] The meaning is usually rendered in reference to the god as "of Mars", or "of war/warlike" ("martial").

It has remained a popular given name in Christian times, in honor of the Catholic saint Martin of Tours; it is also the most common French surname. One well-known Irish family are called Martyn. Along with its historic Catholic popularity, it has also been popular among Protestants due to Martin Luther. In addition, African American children are often given the name in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Additionally, many Black Americans have the name Martin as a family name.

Martin is also an Anglicized surname for a much older, ancient proto-Celtic tribe, who arrived in Ireland roughly 2000 years ago. The Mairtine are noted in the Book of Munster and other historical documents. The names, though recently similar, are disassociated with either Martin de Tours, or Martin de Porres.

Etymology of the surname

St Martin of Tours, the patron saint of soldiers, leaves the life of chivalry and renounces the army. St Martin is one of the most familiar and recognizable Roman Catholic saints.


Before the Normans arrived in England in the 11th century, Martin was almost nonexistent in England, except for in Cornwall where the Celtic derived Martyn was common. When the Normans arrived, the noblemen, knights and traders from the continent, that settled there brought the first name "Martin" with them, which was however a rare given name in France at the time. When the Normans married into Anglo-Saxon families, usually they would adopt the nickname or the village name, because most nobility were men. Also, French names would be Anglicized and Anglo-Saxon names would be made more French like, but only in spelling. The surname "Martin" became common in Kent and Sussex, and also in Ireland and Scotland due to the Norman invasion of Ireland, and landownership in Scotland. It is still present in England today.


With over 230,000 people holding the surname Martin in France, it is the most common French surname.[2] The origins of its frequency can be attributed to Saint Martin of Tours, who was the most popular French saint, but the reason is not clear.[3]

Martin was never a common given name (Christian name) in the Middle Ages, unlike Bernard or Thomas (which were later officialized and became common surnames, nowadays ranking second and third respectively). Onomastics have tried to find other reasons for Martin's popularity, by examining, for example, the repartition of place names, but this explanation also lacks empirical support.[3]

It can be a late surname connected with children of orphanages, like Alexandre, which was never a common first name in the Middle Ages but now appears quite frequently as a surname. Martin can represent charity towards orphans.

France[4] Belgium (Wallonia, 2008)[5]
1. Martin 1. Dubois
2. Bernard 2. Lambert
3. Dubois 3. Martin
4. Thomas 4. Dupont
5. Robert 5. Simon

However, this list hides strong regional differences in France and the increasing number of foreign names among the French citizens. Table based on births between 1966 and 1990:[6]

Basse-Normandie Alsace Brittany PACA Paris-IdF
1. Marie 1. Meyer 1. Le Gall 1. Martin 1. Martin
2. Martin 2. Muller 2. Thomas 2. Garcia (Spanish) 2. Da Silva (Port.)
3. Jeanne 3. Schmitt 3. Le Goff 3. Martinez (Spanish) 3. Perreira (Port.)
4. Duval 4. Schneider 4. Le Roux 4. Blanc 4. Petit
5. Lefèvre 5. Klein 5. Martin 5. Fernandez (Spanish) 5. Dos Santos (Port.)
6. Leroy 6. Weber 6. Simon 6. Lopez (Spanish) 6. Ferreira (Port.)
7. Hébert 7. Fischer 7. Tanguy 7. Roux 7. Rodrigues (Port.)
8. Guérin 8. Martin 8. Hamon 8. Sanchez (Spanish) 8. Dubois


Martín, with an accent on the “i” and pronounced [mar 'tin] (mar-teen) is a common given name and is also among the most common surnames in Spain. Its Catalan variant is Martí and in Galician is Martiño. Jewish families in medieval Spain (Sephardic) Jews who remained in Spain and agreed to accept Christianity were asked to change their surnames. One of the names taken up by these Jewish conversos (originally known in Spain as Marranos, but preferred term is 'anusim' which is Hebrew for "forced") was “Martí” (also spelled "Marty"). Sephardic Jews also used Martin or Martinez, as a variation from the Hebrew name Mordecai.[7]


See The Mairtine for early Irish beginnings. Later surname variations include Mac Giolla Mhártain, Ó Maol Mhartain, Ó Martain, Ó Máirtín, Mac Máirtín, Mac Máel Martain and were probably distantly related from a Keltoid root stock. Recent DNA evidence has this group in Ireland for 3000 years and aligning with the Ulaidh, Errain, and Eóghanacht in Munster and later in the DalRiata kinship groups.

Echmílid mac Máel Martain was Bishop of Down to 1202. Giolla Ernain Ó Martain, who died in 1218, was an Irish poet and Chief Ollam of Ireland. Fearghal Ó Martain, O.E.S.A., was Bishop of Killala from 1425 to 1432.

After the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, numerous new, unrelated bearers of the name from Britain and France, settled in Ireland.

The most well-known Norman family in County Galway were the Martyn family, who were counted among The 13 Tribes of Galway.


There are several groups of Martins or Macmartins in Scotland. The MacMartins of Letterfinlay appear to have allied themselves to the Clan Cameron in the late 14th century, and finally merged with the Camerons after the Battle of Lochaber in 1429. There is a branch of MacMartins from the ancient Strathclyde area or the Cumbric Ystrad Clud or Alclud in Hen Ogledd, the Brittonic-speaking parts of what is now southern Scotland and northern England. The Martins in Skye are traditionally associated with Clan Donald, and the Lothians were home to a powerful 'de St Martin' family from the 12th century. In Ireland there are at least three major families bearing the name "Martin";[8] one being of foreign origin and the latter two, indigenous Irish clans. There are many mottos and arms registered by various Martins throughout the British Isles. The motto of Abraham Martin of Cleveragh and Bloomfield, County Sligo, was "Hinc Fortior et Clarior", which translates as: "... hence stronger and more illustrious". This same motto was registered by another Martin in Edinburgh, 1672.[9][10] Foster, Sally M., Picts, Gaels, and Scots: Early Historic Scotland. Batsford, London, 2nd edn, 2004. ISBN 0-7134-8874-3, Hanson, W.S., "Northern England and southern Scotland: Roman Occupation" in Michael Lynch (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Scottish History. Oxford UP, Oxford, 2001. ISBN 0-19-211696-7 Higham, N.J., The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350–1100. Sutton, Stroud, 1993. ISBN 0-86299-730-5, Jackson, Kenneth H., "The Britons in southern Scotland" in Antiquity, vol. 29 (1955), pp. 77–88. ISSN 0003-598X. Koch, John, "The Place of 'Y Gododdin' in the History of Scotland" in Ronald Black, William Gillies and Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh (eds) Celtic Connections. Proceedings of the 10th International Congress of Celtic Studies, Volume One. Tuckwell, East Linton, 1999. ISBN 1-898410-77-1


An Anglo-Norman knight named Robert fitz Martin, born in the late 11th century, settled in England's West Country, on lands inherited from a grandfather, and later participated in the invasions of Wales, where he was awarded the barony of Cemais, located between Fishguard and Cardigan. Robert fitz Martin established the caput of his barony at Nanhyfer or Nevern. Robert's son William fitz Robert fitz Martin (born c. 1155) inherited the family's property and re-established family control over Cemais, which had been lost to the Welsh. The senior line became extinct in 1326, but cadet lines still flourish in England, Wales, Ireland and elsewhere.

United States

Martin was the sixteenth most frequently reported surname in the 1990 United States Census, accounting for 0.27% of the population.


Marton, the Hungarian form of the name, is commonly used as both a first name and surname.


In Portugal, Martin is written "Martim". One famous Martin from the Portuguese history is Martim Moniz.

Persons with the surname

Notable people sharing the surname "Martin" include:

Born before 1600

Born 1600–1699

Born 1700–1799

Born 1800–1899

Captain W.W. Martin (1834–1911), PHILANTHROPIST, Instrumental in getting Hendrix College to move location of campus to Conway, Arkansas. He is the only known person buried on the Hendrix campus. Martin Hall named after him. National Resgistar (1982).

Born 1900–1949

Born since 1950

Living with unknown birth year

Unknown living or dead with unknown birth year

Fictional characters

Derived surnames

They generally mean "descendant of Martin".

Given name

Those people who are known primarily by the name "Martin" are listed below. Other notable people sharing this given name can be found through consulting .

First name

Middle name

See also


  1. ^ Albert Dauzat, Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de famille et prénoms de France, Larousse, Paris 1980. p. 420. New completed edition by Marie-Thérèse Morlet.
  2. ^ (French)
  3. ^ a b Marianne Mulon, Origine et histoire des noms de famille. Essais d'anthroponymie, éditions errance 2002. p 137–138 : D'où viennent donc tous ces Martin (Where do all these Martins come from?).
  4. ^ Noms de famille: les noms de famille les plus portés, l'origine de votre nom de famille (French)
  5. ^ Noms de famille les plus fréquents en 2008 – Belgique et Régions (Top 100)
  6. ^ Géopatronyme : Regional most commons surnames
  7. ^ Nelly Weiss. The Origin of Jewish Family Names. p. 216 Published by Lang, Peter Publishing, Incorporated. 2002.
  8. ^
  9. ^ John Peter Elven (1864), The book of family crests, Henry Washbourne, p. 71 
  10. ^ Bernard Burke (1864), The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, Harrison & sons, pp. 663–664 

External links

  • The Worldwide Family History Society of Martin
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