In 1620, Captain Nicholas Martiau, a French Hugenot who had immigrated to England, received a grant of land in the Port of York area. Martiau was ordered by King James I to build forts in the colony of Virginia, one which he built in near the present day site of Yorktown, Virginia. In addition to building the forts, Captain Nicolas Martiau was tasked to complete the great log palisade between College and Queen Creeks.
In 1691, Yorktown was founded by the Virginia Port Act of 1691 by the state legislature in Jamestown. Joseph Ring and the lawyer Thomas Ballard assisted with the passage of the Virginia Port Act and the state legislature named Yorktown after the ancient town of Yorkshire in Northern England.