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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). 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 CatholicsaintMartin 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 The Mairtine are noted in the Book of Munster and other historical documents.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.
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 French noblemen and peasants that settled there brought the surname "Martin" with them, including the name "Martin", which was a popular name in France at the time. When the French married into Anglo-Saxon families, usually they would adopt the French last 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 YstradClud 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"; 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. 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.
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:
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).