A Blupete Biography Page

John Handfield:

Not much is known of Handfield's early life. Apparently, in 1720, he joined, as an ensign, a very famous British regiment that had its birth in Nova Scotia, "The Fighting Fortieth."1 Handfield was made Lieutenant in April of 1731; in 1736, appointed to sit on Council; made captain, in 1740; major, in 1754; and Lieut-colonel, in 1758.2 It is to be observed that John Handfield was to spend his entire military career in Nova Scotia. (He was to be at Annapolis Royal when the French put it under siege in 1744 and was with Amherst at The Second Siege of Louisbourg, 1758).

At some point, before 1731, Handfield (as two other English army officers were also to do: Cosby and How), married one of the Winniett girls, Élizabeth (b.1713). The DCB, in its write up of Handfield, makes reference to two sons, John3 and Thomas4; and a daughter, Mary.

With the arrival of Cornwallis and the general strengthening of the British presence in Acadia in 1749, Handfield was sent up in the fall of the year from Annapolis Royal with 100 men to establish a stronghold at Minas. There he built "a picketed fort containing a blockhouse"; this, in order to better protect the road connecting the old and new capitals (Annapolis Royal and Halifax).5

We deal with The Deportation of the Acadians in 1755 as a separate part in our history of Acadia; and, there, will be found a number of touching scenes of the deportation, one of which was to take place at Annapolis Royal.6 Captain John Handfield was then the officer in charge at Annapolis Royal. Imagine! as he went about his duties of loading his wife's close relatives onto the transports.


[1] See Piers' work "Regiments Raised in Nova Scotia," NSHS#21 (1927), p. 69. Calnek, at p. 78, wrote that Handfield was with the British forces when Port Royal was taken in 1710.

[2] See NSHS#21; and, more generally see DCB.

[3] The son, John, was enrolled in the British army, and, as a lieutenant, is noted to be with his father who built and commanded a fort at Minas in 1749; indeed, it is noted that in a skirmish with the Indians, John was taken prisoner. (DCB.)

[4] Thomas was the progenitor of the "Handfields of Montreal." (DCB.)

[5] NSHS#30, p. 54; NSHS#21 p. 131 & DCB.

[6] The principle embarkation points of the Acadian population, as we will see in the mentioned part of my history, were: Chignecto (Fort Beauséjour), Piziquid (Windsor) Grand Pre and Annapolis Royal. (See map.)


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)