MARTEL DE MAGOS (Magesse), JEAN, soldier, merchant, trader, seigneur, clerk in the king’s stores, b. c. 1650 in France, d. 7 Nov. 1729 at Quebec.
Martel came to Canada in 1672 as a soldier in the personal guard of Governor Frontenac [Buade*]. After his discharge he settled in Acadia, and in 1683 was granted the seigneury of Magos (Magesse; Machias, Me.), half of which he ceded on 8 May 1683 to Pierre Chenet Dubreuil. He married Marie-Anne Robinau, believed to be the illegitimate daughter of Joseph Robinau* de Villebon, commandant of Acadia. Martel engaged in trade and, frequently, in transport on behalf of the crown, in partnership with Pierre Maisonnat, dit Baptiste, who had acquired Dubreuil’s half of the Magos seigneury. As was usual in Acadia, Martel engaged in illicit trade with New England, and in 1692 Villebon had him arrested and seized a cargo of merchandise he was carrying in a small vessel belonging to the Boston merchant, John Nelson, who since 1674 had represented in Acadia the interests of his uncle, Sir Thomas Temple*.
In the spring of 1694 Martel began, with Baptiste, to clear a homestead on the Saint John River, opposite Fort Nashwaak (Naxouat). Though in 1695 he reportedly undertook improvements “with great care,” it would appear that both he and Baptiste continued to devote the better part of their energies to other enterprises. In 1696 he had harvested “but a small quantity of wheat,” and the following year he still raised no livestock. When the Martel-Baptiste partnership was dissolved in 1701, Martel moved to Quebec.
If P.-G. Roy’s information is accurate, Martel became a clerk in the king’s stores in Quebec. He resided in 1716 in the Faubourg Saint-Nicolas or Du Palais. He must have enjoyed some measure of standing, for in 1717 he and his wife were godparents for Jeanne-Élisabeth Bégon, the infant daughter of the intendant, Michel Bégon*. Two years later, the same Mademoiselle Bégon was a godparent, along with the governor’s son, François de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil, for Martel’s own son, Pierre-Michel*.
Jean Martel died in Quebec on 7 Nov. 1729, and was buried the following day. His wife continued to reside in Quebec, where she is mentioned in 1745, and appears to have died by 1747. Several of Martel’s eight sons became prominent, notably François (b. 1703), parish priest of Saint-Laurent, Île d’Orléans; Jean-Urbain (b. 1708), a director of the Saint-Maurice ironworks; Jean-Baptiste-Grégoire (1710–67), keeper of the king’s stores in Montreal; Pierre-Michel (1719–89), financial commissary in Montreal; and Joseph-Nicolas (b. 1721), first a Jesuit in France, later parish priest at Saint-Laurent and at Contrecoeur. Both Jean-Baptiste-Grégoire and Pierre-Michel were implicated in the notorious “Affaire du Canada,” and served brief sentences in the Bastille in the early 1760s.
AN, Col., B, 23, ff.50–52; C11A, 19, f.25; C11D, 3, ff.116–16v, 157; Section Outre-Mer, G3, 2040. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, III, 241–42. Webster, Acadia, 34–35, 144, 148. La Morandière, Hist. de la pêche française de la morue, II, 706. P.-G. Roy, La famille Martel de Brouage (Lévis, 1934), 5–6. BRH, VI (1900), 21–24.