Winter Family History

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The Winter Family of Newfoundland

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Almost all of the genealogical information I have on this family is from a hand-written family tree prepared by a fellow descendant of F.A.R. Winter. He obviously spent a great deal of time collecting this data, but, unfortunately, the copy I have does not contain any citations. As a result, the reader should not treat this information as 100% reliable.

The Surname

The Winter name is English in origin and apparently originated in the Saxon times, prior to William's Conquest in 1066. A completely unrelated Winter family originated in Germany, and should not be confused with our family.

The Family History

The first Winter to arrive in St. Johns was James Winter of Devon, England. He later returned to England, but at least two of his sons, John and George, remained in St. Johns. The Winters became one of the town's leading merchant families, and most of this family history is dedicated to their descendants.

The Family of John Winter

There is a debate in the family as to whether James Winter, Esq., of Her Majesty's Customs, was a son of John Winter, or his brother George, as they both had sons named James. There is a well documented essay advocating the view that the aforementioned James in the son of John, and I have adopted this lineage in my history. What is undisputed is that James had a son, also named James, later Sir James Spearman Winter, who was a prominent member of the community, and was heavily involved in the colony's social, political, and religious scenes. He was a Grand Master of the Orange Order, and a leader of the Protestant community in Newfoundland's constant religious feuds. He was an attorney general, a Supreme Court Judge, and later a Prime Minister.

Sir Marmaduke George Winter was another son of James Winter, and a brother to Sir James Spearman Winter. He was born on the Burin Peninsula, then went to Canada for his education. He later returned to St. Johns to start a business with his brother Thomas. T. and M. Winter was a wholesale provision agency, then branched into ship building for the seal industry, cod export, and fire insurance. T. and M. Winter is still around today, although it is no longer associated with the family. Marmaduke George was the builder of Winterholme, which is a mansion in St. Johns, famous for it's Queen Anne style. It went through many incarnations including apartments and troop housing, but has been restored and is now a bed and breakfast. Marmaduke George turned to politics in his later life, and elected a memeber of the Executive Council. He was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and was eventually knighted in 1923.

Sir Marmaduke George's grandson, Gordon A. Winter, was a lietenant-governor of Newfoundland, and a signatory to the 1948 Terms of Union between Newfoundland and Canada.

The Family of George Winter

George Winter, the other son of James, was the deputy ordnance storekeeper of St. Johns. He accumulated extensive property holdings which were distributed among his eleven children upon his death. He also built one of the town's most historic homes, Winterton, which was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1996.

Two of George's youngest sons, Frederick Augustus Rothwell (F.A.R.) and George, left Newfoundland for British Guiana to find their fortune. F.A.R. probably was involved in the mining business in Demerara, but George ended up in Barbados. F.A.R's youngest son, Alfred, moved his family to Trinidad. His daughter, Ivy Maud Winter, was my Great Grandmother.

The Family Today

Research Goals


McBurney, Margaret, and Byers, Mary. "St. Johns, Merchants and Politicians." In True Newfoundlanders: early homes and families of Newfoundland and Labrador. Boston Mills Press, 1997.