MAISONNAT, MARIE-MADELEINE (Winniett), b. 1695 at Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.), daughter of Pierre Maisonnat*, dit Baptiste, and Madeleine Bourg (sister of Alexandre Bourg); d. sometime after 1770.
Marie-Madeleine Maisonnat’s father, Pierre, the renowned corsair, is listed in the 1693 census of Port-Royal as being married to Madeleine Bourg, aged 16. The couple had a comfortable estate with numerous livestock and an arsenal of 15 guns. By the time of the 1698 census, however, Pierre had been reunited with Judith Soubiron, a former wife – he was reputed to have many. Madeleine Bourg had married a widower, Pierre Le Blanc, by this time and was living in his household with her three-year-old daughter, Marie Madeleine.
In 1710, at 15 years of age, Marie-Madeleine witnessed the capture and occupation of Port Royal (renamed Annapolis Royal) by British forces. The next year, before John Harrison*, the Protestant chaplain of the garrison, she married Lieutenant William Winniett, one of Francis Nicholson*’s colonial troops, who had volunteered to remain at Annapolis on garrison duty. Winniett soon abandoned his military status to pursue a successful career as a merchant and shipowner, and was later a member of the Nova Scotia Council. The couple had 13 children. When Winniett died in 1741, Marie-Madeleine and her family were left impoverished, “a particular concern to everybody here,” according to Paul Mascarene, the administrator of the province. Mascarene urged Winniett’s debtors to settle their accounts as soon as possible.
Three of Marie-Madeleine’s daughters were married to prominent members of the British establishment in Nova Scotia: Anne (b. 1712) to Alexander Cosby, Elizabeth (b. 1714) to Lieutenant John Handfield, and Marie-Madeleine (b. 1718) to Captain Edward How. There are indications that Marie-Madeleine Maisonnat and her daughters had some influence among the garrison and officials at Annapolis Royal. Captain John Knox* speaks in 1757 of “an old French gentlewoman . . . of the Romish persuasion” – undoubtedly Marie-Madeleine – “whose daughters, grand-daughters, and other relations, have . . . intermarried with Officers, and other gentlemen of this garrison . . . ; the ladies soon acquired an influence, the spirit of the soldier and the characteristic of a good Officer were gradually changed, and succeeded by rusticity.” According to Knox, some soldiers were persuaded to do work for the inhabitants of the town and neglected their own duties. If any soldier was confined for his negligence, however, “the old gentlewoman ordered him to be released by her own authority, which was deemed sufficient. . . . I am also assured that this good lady has actually presided at councils of war in the fort, when measures have been concerting to distress the common enemy, her good kindred and countrymen.”
Marie-Madeleine Maisonnat was still alive in 1770, as she is mentioned in the census of Annapolis Royal.
AN, Col., C11A, 12, f.225; 13, f.322; Section Outre-Mer, G1, 407, 466 (recensements de l’Acadie, 1693, 1698, 1700). “Mass. Archives,” V, 452. PAC, MG 9, B8, 24 (registres de Saint-Jean-Baptiste du Port Royal) (original of the volume for 1702–28 is at PANS, and that for 1727–55 is at the Diocesan Archives, Yarmouth, N.S.); MG 23, C16. Knox, Historical journal (Doughty). Shipton, Sibley’s Harvard graduates, VI, 423, 511–27. Calnek, History of Annapolis (Savary), 95–96, 119–21, 152–56, 631–32. Savary, Supplement to history of Annapolis, 92–93, 97. C. J. d’Entremont and H.-J. Hébert, “Parkman’s diary and the Acadian exiles in Massachusetts,” French Canadian and Acadian Geneal. Rev. (Quebec), I (1968), 241–94.