A Blupete Biography Page

William Winniett

While Justice Savary doubts it1, Calnek claims that William Winniett was born in France of French Huguenot parents. What we know is that Winniett came to Annapolis Royal with the British forces under Nicholson in 1710 when that place, then known as Port Royal, was taken by the British. In 1711, Winniett resigned his commission and married a French girl, Marie Madeleine Maisonnat, daughter of the famous French privateer, "Baptiste."

According to Calnek, Winniett had a number of children: Anne, Élizabeth, Mary Magdalene, Margaret, Charles, Edward, Joseph, Matthew,2 John, Alexander and Susanna. Arsenault lists a couple of more children: Guillaume (William) and Marguerite. Not much is known about Charles, Marguerite (b.1723), John, Alexander and Susanna. As for Margaret, Ann, Élizabeth, Mary Magdalene, Edward and Guillaume: well, I will deal with them in turn.

Six year old Margaret did not survive the winter of 1723/1724; a gravestone continues to sit on the lawn of the old burial ground at Fort Anne located at picturesque Annapolis Royal: "Here lyeth the body of Margaret Winniett born the 6 day of April 1723 and dyed the 28 day of February 1729."3

Three of the girls married well. They married English army officers: Anne (b.1712), Alexander Cosby; Mary Magdalene (b.1715), Edward How, and Élizabeth (b.1713), John Handfield who superintended the deportation at Annapolis Royal in 1755. (It had to be a touching scene as Lieut-Col. Handfield went about his duties of loading his wife's close relatives on to the transports.)

Edward (b.1722), in 1752, was to became the captain of a vessel, that, at least at one time, was owed by his brother-in-law, Edward How; it was an armed schooner, the Warren, 70 tons.

Arsenault writes: Guillaume (1720-1747) married at Louisbourg on October 16th, 1742 to a Louise Robichaud; they had a boy (Guillaume-David, b.1744) and a girl (Isabelle, b.1746). Guillaume died at Port Royal on the 7th May, 1747. William's widow and two of her children (William David and Elizabeth) were deported to Boston in 1755.

Joseph (1726-1789) married in 1751 to a Mary Dyson (1728-1804). The Joseph Winniett family somehow managed to survive the tumultuous upheavals of 1755 [cf. the widowed family of his brother's, Guillaume] and continued to live in Annapolis Royal right on into the new era of English Nova Scotia. Joseph Winniett was to go on and become an upstanding member of the Annapolis community: Justice of the Peace, Register of Deeds and was elected a member of the Nova Scotia Assembly shortly after peace was finally to come in 1763.


[1] Savary makes reference to an article in the Genealogist (London), April, 1911, vol XXVII.

[2] In Marble's work, Deaths, Burials, and Probate of Nova Scotia, there is listed a "Matthew Winniett," Major on the 5th of July, 1794.

[3] However, in Marble's work, Deaths, Burials, and Probate of Nova Scotia, there is listed a 75 year old "Margaret Winniett" who was buried at Annapolis on the 28th of February, 1799.


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)