The information I have on the oldest English ancestors comes from the College of Arms of London, where are kept the registers of the Visitations. In England the census, known as the Visitations, were made under the order of the King by the York Herald of Arms. Unlike the census that we have known here since the beginning of the colony, the registers of the Visitations do not contain information on many items, such as the size of the land, etc. Only the name of the head of the family, his spouse, his first descendant if male, and occasionally the names of other male children.
The purpose was only to verify if families, who were making use of a Coat of Arms, had the right to do so. In the register of the Visitation of 1619 in the county of Kent, in the South-East of England, we find five generations of "Handvile".

The "Red Dragon", title of the one who visited the families, has inscribed "Handvile" but the people so inscribed, used also the names"Handfylde", "Hanfelde" and other variants. The name "Handvile" appears in all registers and history books up until about 1700.

Unfortunately, the age of all the members of this family is not inscribed in the register of 1619. We find that the youngest is 20 years old, having been born in 1599. If we subtract 35 years for each generation, the eldest, named Thomas of the Manor of Handvile-Green, was born about 1465. His son, Hammond, born about 1500, resided in the Manor of Braborne. The son of Hammond was named Sampson and lived in Ulcombe. In the Manor of Ulcombe were the three sons of Sampson; the first was John; the second, Stephen, whose son, Thomas, was 20 years old; and the third was James. After the names, is found the description of the Coat of Arms: Argent a Lion rampant sable within an orle of Crosses sable. Crest: A Bird's head and neck, ermine, wings raised argent and crowned with a ducal Coronet or.

In his book History of Kent written in 1790, Hasted tells how these different manors belonged to some Handfields or Handviles. In the same volume, for the parish of Waltham, Hasted mentioned that Handvile-Green was so named because it was inhabited by the Handfield or Handvile Family, and that many of them were buried in the parish church yard.

It is in the book "History of Enfield" by Hodson and Ford 1911, that I found where come from the word "Field". It is derived from the past participle of the saxon verb "foellan" (to fall) and signifies a clearing where the trees have been felled.


These photos were taken at Handvile-Green. One brick at the back of the house is engraved "TH1617".

One of our ancestors, Stephen Handfield of Bircholt, co. Kent, born in Ulcombe, co. Kent , September 17th 1624, married April 9th 1660, Margaret Jenkin. Five children were born during the 8 years of their married life. Among them was John born 1666. 

Knowing his life was comming to the end, Stephen made his testament November 27th 1668. He was buried in the parish yard of Smeeth December 1st 1668. One of his executrix was a lady, Frances Wraight, of the City of Ashford.
She did interest one of their pupils for  the city life. John Handfield born 1666, married in St-Alpage of Canterbury August 28th 1690, Thomassine Irons and became a "Woollen Draper". He lived all his life and died in Ashford. He was the father of John Handfield born in Ashford November 1st 1693 who made all his military carreer in Acadia where he became Lieutenant-Colonel.


WILLIAM WINNIET (future Father-in-law of John)

What happened in Acadia in the ten years prior to the arrival of JOHN HANDFIELD.

 In the Biographical Dictionary of Canada, it is written that William Winniet was “probably” a Huguenot who had to leave France after the Revocation of the Nantes Edict, October 18th. 1685. What is true is that October 5th 1710 he was with the Sir Francis Nicholson’s troops, come to conquer Acadia. The military operations lasted eight days. On October the 13th, Daniel D’Auger de Subercase, the French Commander of Port Royal, surrender the arms.

 William Winniet served first as Ensign, then Adjutant and later as Lieutenant in the New Hampshire’s Regiment that stayed for garrison in the Fort of Port Royal whose name was changed for Annapolis Royal.  Acadia becomes English by the Treaty of Utrech, April 16th 1713.

During year 1711, William Winniet quits the military service to become a merchant and a ship owner. The 19th of December of the same year, he married Marie-Madeleine Maisonnat, daughter issued of the marriage of Madeleine Bourq, sister of the notary Alexander Bourq of Grand-Pré, with Pierre Maisonnat the famous Captain Baptiste, privateer of Port Royal. That marriage was rescinded when Captain Baptiste, after a voyage in France comes back with his lawful wife and family. Marie-Madeleine Maisonnat was fifteen years old at her marriage, being born October 23rd 1696. She died, 85 years old, June 9th 1781. Her husband, William Winniet died per accident, drowned in the port of Boston, August 14th 1741. The Winniet family had fifteen children. Here is the destiny of the first five children of the family. 

ANNE : Born March 10 th 1712/1713, married August 29th 1728, Major Alexander Cosby who became Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, and died December 27th 1742. They had 6 children. One of them, Phillip, is the man who made this list.

ELIZABETH:  Born August 6th 1714. Married at Annapolis Royal June 3rd 1730, Ensign John Handfield. They had eleven children.

MARY: Born July 30th 1716, married  Ensign Edward Amhurst.

MARY  MAGDALENE: Born July 10th 1718. Married Edward How, Esquire.

WILLIAM: Born April 21st 1720, Died April 25th 1747. He was known as Guillaume Ouimette. Married in the catholic church of Louisbourg October 6th 1742, Lisette Robichaud,  daughter of François Robichaud and Angélique Pitre.They had two children, David born 1744 and Elizabeth (Betty) born 1746. During 1755, Major John Handfield, to obey the orders of his superior officer, deported his sister-in-law, Lisette and her two children to Boston. On January 21st 1769, Elizabeth (Betty) married in Boston Thimothée Bourgeois, born 1739, son of Joseph Bourgeois and of Anne Leblanc. This marriage was confirmed in the Parish of Pointe-aux-Trembles in Montréal December 28th 1775.                                                                                        

John Handfield in Acadia

In the book of Charles Danton, George the First's Army, Volume II, I found that John Handfield was made an Ensign in the English army and assigned to the 40th Regiment of Foot at St. James on 26 February 1720. As the 40th Regiment had been formed in America in 1717 by Colonel Richard Phillips, John could not have wasted any time joining his regiment. In 1720, he would have been 27 years of age.

In his book "History of Nova Scotia" T.C. Haliburton gives a list of residents of Annapolis Royal in April 1720 and the name of John appears. So he arrived in Acadia in 1720.There is a document bearing his signature, as witness to the incrimination of the Lieutenant John Washington for bad behaviour in 1721. 

His name appears in the minutes of the Nova Scotia Council meeting held at the Office of the Government in Annapolis on 24 July 1731. John Handfield, Ensign, requested that he be granted a plot of garden ground at the back of a house he had built, at considerable cost, in the lower part of Annapolis. The land had not been improved. To the support of his request, John produced a letter signed by Colonel Phillips, of his regiment, in which the latter recommended to the Council approval of the request because, and I quote:

It is the King's will to encourage improvements of this kind in the city, and besides, the person who returned the title of this land to Mr. Handfield, in my opinion, had the right to it.

This title (deed) consisted of a formal document, written in French, of a grant made at the time of the French Government, to Mr. Christopher Cahouett and signed, on 12 September 1700 by Jacques L’Hermitte engineer and Lieutenant of the King for Cape Breton. Promotion given to him because of the strongly advise of Jacques-François de Bouillan, Governor.

It was at a meeting of the Council, held Monday, 11 September 1732 at the home of Lieutenant Governor Lawrence Armstrong*, that this request was granted. Title, good and true, for his house and lot of land in the lower city of Annapolis Royal was delivered to Lieutenant Handfield. (He had, by this time, gone up one rank.)

* Lawrence Armstrong was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia in 1724 and held that position until 1739 when he committed suicide.

John Handfield becomes a landowner

As a reward for the numerous services rendered to his province, the Council of Nova Scotia on 30 November 1734 turned over to John Handfield, and other individuals, title to land where mines had been discovered.

In 1736, Governor Armstrong named him a member of the Council of the Province. He held that position until the establishment of Halifax in 1749, when the seat of Government was moved to the new capital. From the time the Council of the Province began in 1720, the seat of government had been located at Annapolis.

In 1746, the Colonel Arthur Noble with a group of soldiers, was sent by William Shirley, Governor of Massachusetts, to oppose Ramesay in Acadia. His armed forces occupied Grand-Pré without opposition, Ramesay having retreated to Chignecto. But in February 1747, a party of Canadians and Indians under Coulon de Villiers surprised the English garrison at Grand-Pré and in the fight Colonel Noble, his brother and a large number of his men were killed. The rest were forced to capitulate, and the region remained unoccupied until September 1749 when Captain John Handfield and hundred men were assigned to occupy the area. The fort of Grand-Pré (named Vieux Logis) was repaired and served as General Headquarters to the small group.

This stronghold had been built by the English Government of Nova Scotia during the year 1732. That year, Henry Cope who was a counsellor of the Government, accused William Winniet, an other counsellor, to have informed the Indians of the construction of this "house" to serve as stronghold to a company of soldiers. January the 9th 1734, Mr Winniet was dismissed.

Response of the Micmacs helped by Acadians

The counter-attack of the Indians was not long in coming. November 27 of 1749, three months after the return of the English, many Micmacs with the help of eleven Acadians*, fell without warning on a detachment that was leaving the Fort. Two of the English were killed and the others taken prisoners. Among the latter was Lieutenant John Hamilton, future son-in-law of Captain Handfield, and Handfield's young son. I was not able to trace the first name of this son and, for a long time did not know whether he was killed or released by the Indians. Many books on the history of Acadia mention the loss of one of Captain Handfield's sons at the hands of the Indians on this occasion without giving additional details.

However, in a letter dated January 5, 1750, John Hamilton wrote to Governor Edward Cornwallis, told about the attack, his capture, and how a Catholic priest ( Mr. Jean Louis Le Loutre, french missionary for the Micmacs) had paid the Micmacs ransom for his release and the release of Handfield's son. Hamilton wrote his letter in French; Cornwallis was not impressed, as his reply to Hamilton indicates. [See Appendices 1 and 2]

Several days after the attack, on 13 December 1749, Honoré Gautrol went to Halifax and, after swearing to tell the truth, gave the English (probably in the hope of a reward) the names of all Acadians who helped the Indians in their attack against the Fort of Captain Handfield. Captain John Gorham, who launched a pursuit of these Acadians, was unable to catch them before they reached Chignecto and the English didn't dare venture that far.

 Here are the names of the Acadians as published in the "Selection from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia" by Thomas Akins, p. 177:

Joseph Clément

Claude et François LePrince ( among ancesters of Vincent Prince, journalist at "La Presse de Montréal")

Misques Lagorne, Charles Lagorne Sr, Petit Jean Lagorne et Charles Lagorne Jr

François LaVache

Joseph Vincent

Renauchon Aucoin

Charles Hébert (Ancestor of Terrie Hébert Alvarez, who kindly sent this list)

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