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Windgeat People

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Out of date now - will be updated in the coming year.

NOTE: If you have anything to add (or to contradict) or know of any other interesting Windeatts, Wingetts or Wingates from Devon please leave a message on the Message Board.

Artistic Windgeats

  1. There are two enigmatic references to an Emma WINDEAT and a William WINDEAT who are listed as artists on an Italian website:

    William is down as being a nineteenth century artist and Emma as belonging to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  From the spelling they would appear to belong to the North Bovey branch.  I haven't explored further as the website does not meet the usual web credibility criteria.  It appears that anyone can submit the name or names of artists and the aim appears to be to sell biographies to those willing to pay.  The site, which offers free birthdates, may even be targeted at naive family historians.

    [Later: 21st April 2006]
    I have now found references to both these artists courtesy of the Gale databases which were freely open to search during April 2006:

    Emma S. Windeatt, d. 1926, fl. 1884-1922

    • Dictionary of Women Artists. An international dictionary of women artists born before 1900. By Chris Petteys. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1985. [DcWomA]
      Source Citation: Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 1980-2006
    • Biographical Index of Artists in Canada. By Evelyn de R. McMann. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. [BiInAC]
      Source Citation: Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 1980- 2006

    William Windeat, 1826, fl. Toronto, 1858-1870, 19th cent.-

    • Biographical Index of Artists in Canada. By Evelyn de R. McMann. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. [BiInAC]
      Source Citation: Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 1980- 2006
    • Who Was Who in American Art. 400 years of artists in America. Second edition. Three volumes. Edited by Peter Hastings Falk. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999. [WhAmArt 2]
      Source Citation: Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 1980- 2006
    • The New-York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564- 1860. By George C. Groce and David H. Wallace. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957. [NewYHSD]
      Source Citation: Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 1980- 2006

    So it would appear that they are genuine artists, apparently from Canada, and, maybe, father and daughter.  

    Clues as to their identity:

    1. In the Penn State University Special Collection there is a record of a photograph taken by a W. Windeat in Toronto, Ontario some time between 1860-1900.  This could be the same person.  
    2. The Library and Archives of Canada lists a WENDEAT , WILLIAM, aged 45 from ENGLAND living in TORONTO WEST, St. George's Ward with a WINDET , LOUISA, aged 56 from ENGLAND also living in St. George's Ward, Toronto West (see the Federal Census of 1871 (Ontario Index)).

    These point to a connection with the Staverton tree (see below) but I am not sure how.  If anyone has access to the reference books quoted above, it would be very interesting to see what they say.

  2. W. N. WINGET, c. 1930
    The Burnet-Morris index lists a W..N. WINGET who was an artist and whose topical cartoons (1927) and  collection of local pictures (1930) were reprinted in the Torquay Directory.

  3. The Staverton tree, has an artistic branch headed by John (1823-1900) a hairdresser and wigmaker in Plymouth, two of whose sons also became hairdressers and another of whom became a compositor and printer.  His youngest son, James, emigrated to the US and became a portrait photographer in turn of the century Chicago . . . [more ]

Heraldic Windeatts

Arms aren't granted to a name but to an individual so these coats of arms can't be regarded at all proprietarily but they do illustrate a sense of humour being canting arms (canting = punning) and confirm the original meaning of the name - windy gate.

The following two websites used to display different examples of WINGATE coats of arms - at the time of writing (12/08/04) they have disappeared.

Wingate of Harlington, Bedfordshire
The windy gate here appears as a crest.
A full-blown windy gate or portcullis as a charge.

I have a bit more about this on my Origins page.

Infamous Windeatts

Oral history tells of a Windeatt hanged for sheep stealing but I haven't come across such a record yet.  There is an early record of a Robert WYNDOUT fined one pound in Exeter in 1332 and, much later, in 1666 Daniell & Phillip Windeat appear in the Walkhampton Manor Court Rolls: "Daniell & Phillip Windeat spoylinge the comons by Cuttinge ffaggs".  There is the usual sprinkling of base children to Windeatt women but not more so than in other families except for the strange circumstances in Walkhampton in 1705 where three women (Mary, Jane and Rose Windeatt) were all on parish relief -  presumably for having bastard children?   In 1792, a maintenance order for the support of Ann Williams' bastard child was taken out against Richard WINDEATT of Ermington (he married someone else a couple of years later).  But, on the whole, they seem to have been a reasonably well-behaved lot - well at least while they were in Devon.  Check out the court reports page for various crime reports of Windgeat variants in Devon, London and elsewhere.  

The most interesting Windeatt so far would seem to be Thomas White Windeatt (1769-1827) who is probably the same gentleman as the Thomas Windeatt who features in several works by Crossing as the vandal who destroyed Childe's tomb at Fox Tor farm on Dartmoor in 1812.  The full story is intriguing and I have devoted a whole page to it - see Thomas White Windeatt - Pastor, Poet, Vandal?

Impoverished Windeatts

Only the Totnes tree WINDEATTs seem to have managed to hold on to any money across the centuries.  And even they had quite a few bankruptcies in the nineteenth century.  Other WINDEATTs were agricultural labourers or craftsmen.  On Dartmoor, a name occasionally appears as a tenant on a lease, but they never seemed to stay there for more than a generation and this is probably why they are so hard to trace.  

Mike Brown has written a very informative page for Genuki Devon called Settlement & Removal in Rural Devon Parishes.  This  illustrates exactly how such people managed to move around in those days before 1834 avoiding the immobilisation imposed by the Settlement acts.  He also includes the records of Mary WINDEATT who seems to have caused the Overseers of the Poor some expense in Walkhampton in 1705 as they unsuccessfully sought settlement for her in Newton, Exeter and Lamerton.  Mary was one of the three Windeatt women receiving relief for bastard children in 1705.  What had they been up to?  This family seems to have disappeared shortly afterwards possibly surfacing in Kingsbridge towards the middle of the century?

In another page for Genuki Devon Mike Brown quotes the life of a William WINDEATT in Ugborough as an example of the miserable existence of the paupers in past times: 

"Amongst the late C18th inmates of  the workhouse was William WINDEATT, who was made to work on the roads for 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for nearly 25 years - Sundays was always a day off, but the only “holiday” was Christmas Day (back on the roads on Boxing Day)"  (1).

I am in the process of putting together some index lists of WINDGEATs who appear in the Poor Law records.  So far I have found over 50 poor apprentices and 27 employers:

And index page to other records: settlement and removal and bastardy hearing will follow eventually!

Of the 265-odd WINDEATTs in the 1851 census for Devon the following are listed as paupers

In addition James WINGYETT, a married painter and glazier aged 34 from Plymouth  is in the Sherriff's Ward for Debtors in Exeter and one John WINDEATT, an unmarried labourer aged 33, was a patient pauper in the Devon County Lunatic Asylum also in Exeter the same year.  This is perhaps the John who died three years later in the Plympton Workhouse.  The cause of death was given as "Chorea (10 years)".   I am unsure where these two patients fit onto the current trees.

Literary Windeatts

Only the Totnes tree can make much in the way of claims to have written literature: Thomas White WINDEATT (see also above under infamous),his daughter-in-law, Mary, and a distant cousin, Richard KING whose mother was a Windeatt,  all wrote poetry - or at least were included in the  West Country Poets book.  Thomas White WINDEATT's grandsons, Edward Windeatt and John Sparkes Amery wrote many local history papers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

In the 20th century a Mary Fabyan WINDEATT (1910-1979) wrote many books for children about the lives of the saints.  Mary Fabyan Windeatt was Canadian and a catholic and I cannot work out how she fits into the staunchly non-conformist Totnes tree.  She must belong there though because there are two other Mary Fabyan WINDEATTs on the tree and it was clearly a family name.  There is a brief biography on the Race for Heaven website - select the Windeatt Biographies link from the left-hand menu.  (American Vital Records  give her birth date as 22nd August 1910 and her death date as November 1979 at Vincennes, Knox, Indiana. and from another source I discover "A native of Alberta, Canada, Mary Fabyan Windeatt was born on Aug. 22, 1910, the daughter of William and Margaret Ellen McFadden Windeatt".

Funnily enough, for such a rare surname, it has appeared in at least four works of fiction:

  1. John Galsworthy, in a short story called A Stoic, mentions some WINDEATT Almshouses.  Galsworthy's family originally hailed from Devon and he often escaped there from London with his married cousin where they stayed quietly on a remote Dartmoor farmhouse with his married cousin.
  2. Eden Phillpotts included a 'Widow Windeatt' as one of the characters in his play 'The Farmer's Wife'.  Hitchcock later used this play as the story for one of his early films.  Eden Phillpotts must have been well aware of the family since he based one of his Dartmoor novels on the story of Thomas White Windeatt and Fox Tor farm (see above).
  3. Rosa Praed (1851-1935), who spent her last years in Torquay, wrote a book in 1915 called Lady Bridget in the Never-Never Land.  Set in Australia, it includes a minor character called 'Windeatt', a sheep farmer.
  4. Mary Wesley  has a character called Hubert Windeatt-Whyte in her novel 'A Sensible Life' On enquiry she replied that "she thought she had taken the first part of the name from a brass plate outside the WINDEATTS SOLICITORS office in her home town of Totnes.  She then turned the name around to use in the book.
  5. Arthur Conan Doyle in one of his Sherlock Holmes stories includes a Mr. Windigate, the landlord of a public house, "The Alpha", in London. No connection to Devon apparently but a recognisabe variant of the name.

Musical Windeatts - 15 currently!

The Horrabridge tree has several family members who were amateur or professional musicians.  We have now found fifteen who are described on certificates or censuses or other sources as musicians of some kind.  If you know of any others please get in touch via the Message Board.

Descendants or relations of John WINDEATT (1805-1885)

John's nephew John (1841-1890) [. . . More ]
John gave his occupation as 'professor of music' on occasions.  Earlier in his life he was an asylum attendant and later a coal dealer. Descendants tell of his being able to play a variety of instruments including the piccolo.
John's daughter Emma Froom WINDEATT(1834-?1886)
Descendants report that the family are all musical.  [ . . .More ]
John's son Charles Allen WINDEATT (1837-1897)
Charles was a music teacher, a leader of amateur orchestras and bands.   He also appears to have tried his hand at composing. [ . . . More ]
John's grandson Charles John William WINDEATT (1860-1898)
Charles played the cornet in his father's band. [ . . .More ]
John's grandson Frank Benjamin WINDEATT (1864-1933)
Frank played the double-bass in his father's band. [ . . .More ]
John's grandson Edmond Robert WINDEATT (1866-1916)
Edmond was a music teacher  [ . . .More ].
John's grandson Corelli Ernest Bere WINDEATT (1868-1947)
Corelli was a violinist, composer and professional musician who became leader of a famous dance band orchestra  [ . . . More ]
John's grandson Fredolf (Alf) WINDEATT (1871-1955)
Alf was also a violinist and professional musician who played in his brother's orchestras and bands [ . . . More ]
John's granddaughter Charlotte Sophia Lily WINDEATT (1874-1944)
Charlotte was a violinist and music teacher  [ . . .More ]
John's granddaughter Adelina Beatrice O WINDEaTT (1879-1959)
Adelina also became a music teacher  [ . . .More ]
John's great-granddaughter: Beatrice Adelaide WINDEAT (1887-?)
Ada became known locally as an opera singer [ . . .More ]
John's great-grandson Stanley Ernest Corelli WINDEATT (1893-?)
Stanley also became a professional musician and worked at the Alhambra Theatre  [ . . .More ]
John's great-grandson George Alan WINDEATT (1901-?1959)
George was also a professional musician, a composer and arranger of music and also an orchestra director for Me and My Girl at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1938  . . .More
John's great-grandson Louis Vernon WINDEATT (1898-1918)
Louis was studying music and intending to become a professional when he was killed in the First World War [. .  . More ]


Currently we don't know exactly who Harry WINGETT is but he is the author of a humorous song held in the British Library Music Collection: H.2345.  Details:

System number   004751909
Cataloguing level   Minimal record
Author - personal   Wingett, Harry.
Title   Old Mother Gum. [Song and chorus.]
Publisher/year   London, [1872]
Physical descr.   fol.
General note   No. 4911, 4912 of the "Musical Bouquet

I am sure I have also seen an extract of a newspaper story commenting on Mr. H. WINGETT who amused an audience with some comic songs.  Unfortunately I can't find it anywhere.  Please leave a message on the Message Board if you know any more about Harry or his family.

Respectable Windeatts

Latter-day pillars of society are the many members of the Totnes tree who became solicitors, local historians, town clerks and mayors of their home town: Totnes.  There is even a Windeatt square in Totnes which was, presumably, called after one of the three gentlemen below:

Totnes worthies:

William Fabyan WINDEATT  (1807-1865), son of Thomas White Windeatt, Attorney in Law at Practice, Totnes Workhouse Union Clerk and Superintendent Registrar.  
NOTE: There may have been a shadow over this gentleman's respectability since it is possible he fathered a child (Jane Windeatt Tucker) by one of the Workhouse inmates and then moved the family  to some rooms at the back of his law offices.  Of course, he may just have been being  charitable and the child was named after him in gratitude!

Thomas White WINDEATT  (1804-1903), son of William Fabyan above.
Solicitor.  Mayor of Totnes, 1900, 1902,1903.  

"Whether a mayor, churchwarden, sidesman, councillor, volunteer, officer or manager of church schools, he did his duty faithfully and honourable, and left behind him a name and reputation untarnished and unsullied" (2)

Edward WINDEATT (1846-1921), brother of Thomas White above.
Solicitor. County Alderman.  Town Clerk of Totnes for 23 years, Mayor of Totnes for five terms.
Author of numerous papers on local history.  President of the Devonshire Association (3).

Here is a photograph of a George WINDEATT, Town Clerk, from the Totnes Image Bank.  [Unfortunately the following link has disappeared in the restructured website.] And a further reference to him when he was Deputy Town Clerk (gosh, those boys sound like a handful!).

The Ughborough tree also boasts a mayor:

George John WINGETT (1903-1983), Mayor of Plymouth 1958-9.

Sporty Windeatts

I haven't found any records of sporting prowess in earlier centuries but, more recently, WINDEATTs from both the Staverton tree and the Torquay tree have distinguished themselves as swimmers.  Graham Windeatt , of the Staverton tree, won a silver medal for Australia in the 1972 Olympics while Malcolm Windeatt of the Torquay tree swam for the British Olympic Team at the same event.  This amazing co-incidence (WINDEATT is a rare surname) does make one wonder about possible genetic links between these two trees.

More recently Terry Windeatt and Claire Windeatt, also from the Torquay tree, appeared frequently on web pages about swimming events.  Claire Windeatt also had her own profile on the British ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) web site.

Links to other sites mentioning WINDEATT family members:

See my LINKS page - click on the grey button below or at the top of the page.


  1. Brown, M., Dartmoor Press Online Magazine: Ugborough, (2001) [online] Available from: [accessed on 20/04/01]
  2. Windiate-Blackmore, R. Real Names, letter to Family Tree Magazine, October 1995, p.40.
  3. Obituary Notice, The Devonshire Association, Vol. 35, p.44.

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These pages are being put together by Sandra Windeatt with a lot of help from many correspondents and in particular 

last updated: 21 May 2001