Anna Wintour Family History

Overview

Anna Wintour was born on November 3rd, 1949 to Charles and Eleanor Wintour in Hampstead, London.  She grew up in London with an interest in fashion and some encouragement from her father, a newspaper editor.  She began her own career in fashion journalism in London in 1970.  However, the rebellious streak in her then took over.  She quit over a spat and departed for New York.

She worked there for a number of fashion magazines before arriving at Vogue in 1983.  She became its US editor in 1988, a post she has held with Conde Nast since that time.  She has also chaired the Met Gala, New York’s showcase for fashion and fundraising, since 1995.  Her longevity in the industry is astounding.

 

With her trademark pageboy bob haircut and dark sunglasses, she has become something of an icon in the fashion world.  Yet her apparently aloof and demanding personality has also earned her the nickname of Nuclear Wintour.

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The Wintour Line

The Wintour name is a variant of Winter that was found in Elizabethan times, but since that time has more or less disappeared from use.  There were just 90 Wintours recorded in the 1881 English census (of whom 35 were in Gloucestershire).  One notable line of Wintours has continued until the present day.

Were these Wintours connected to the Wintours of Huddington Court in Worcestershire, the home of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators Robert and Thomas Wintour?  The answer is probably no as that line of Wintours had died out during the 1600’s.

Wynter and Wintour.  Instead, the ancestor of these Wintours would appear to have been a Thomas Wynter.  He had been born in 1684 at Kendal in Westmorland and was described as a “gentleman ironmonger.”

His son Forth changed the spelling of his name at some point from Wynter to Wintour, probably after he had moved south and married Ann Fitzgerald in 1751.  Did he regard the Wintour name as more noble or more glamorous?  Forth and Ann had five children, but Ann died after the birth of her last child Henry in 1777.

The Church and the Armed Forces.  For the families considered minor aristocracy such as the Wintours, the Church and the Army or Navy offered respectable careers.  Henry Wintour, who attended Eton and Oxford, joined the Church.  Sadly he died in 1804 at the age of twenty-seven from tuberculosis, leaving a wife and three children.

Henry named one of his sons Fitzgerald after the mother he did not know.  This Fitzgerald name would be passed down through three generations of Wintours.

His daughter Anna Wintour was a beauty and attracted many admirers, including James Milnes Gaskell and the poet Arthur Hallam from Eton.  Nothing came of these potential matches.  Indeed, Arthur would die in 1833 at the tender age of twenty-two.  However, Anna’s nephew Fitzgerald would go on to marry Isabel, the daughter of James Milnes Gaskell, in 1855.

This Fitzgerald Wintour, the third of the Wintour clergymen, became vicar at the High Hoyland church in Yorkshire in 1866.  He stayed there until his death in 1898.  During that time he was said to have galvanized Anglican worship in the area.

The Wintours in the armed forces had begun with Charles and George Wintour, elder sons of Forth and Ann.  Both were officers in the Royal Navy.  Later came three of the sons of the Rev. Fitzgerald Wintour:

  • the brothers Fitzgerald and Evelyn Wintour, born in the 1860’s, who joined the British Army.  Fitzgerald rose to the position of Major General and Evelyn to Lieutenant Colonel.
  • and their younger brother Captain Charles Wintour, born in 1872, who joined the Royal Navy.  He died with his ship HMS Tipperary at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

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The Foster Connection

The Wintours were aligned to major aristocracy when Fitzgerald Wintour, later to be Major General Wintour, married Alice Foster in 1912.  Alice, who lived to the remarkable age of 103, was descended, four generations back, to the famous or infamous Lady Elizabeth Foster.

Lady Elizabeth was not born a Foster; but married one.  After they had separated, she became one of the most notorious courtesans of the Regency Age.  There was that famous menage a trois with the Duke of Devonshire, with her eventually marrying him in 1809.

Her son Augustus was, under the patronage of the Duke of Devonshire, a diplomat in Washington in the early days of the new republic.  This assignment ended with the War of 1812.  Later in his life, he became depressed and killed himself on Brownsea island in Dorset.

For his services Sir Augustus was made an Irish baronet in 1831.  His elder son Frederick assumed the baronetcy when he died in 1848.  A younger son Vere, born into wealth and privilege. saw at first hand the effects of the potato famine in Ireland.  He then devoted the rest of his life to the problems of the Irish poor.  He gave most of his money away and died almost penniless.

Alice Foster was the younger sister of the fourth and last baronet Sir Augustus Vere Foster.

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More Recent Times

Major Fitzgerald Wintour married Alice Foster in 1912 and their son Charles Vere Wintour was born in 1917.  Charles was educated at Cambridge.  In 1940 he married Eleanor Baker, the American daughter of a Harvard academic.  Anna Wintour, born in 1949, was the oldest of their four surviving children (her elder brother Gerald having died in a car accident in 1951).

Charles did not follow his family into the church or army, but pursued a career in journalism instead.  He became the Managing Editor of the Daily Express in 1958 and over the next twenty years he was either its editor or the editor of the London Evening Standard.  Print journalism by then was in his blood.  In 1979 he divorced his wife of almost forty years and married Audrey Slaughter, a pioneer of new magazines for British women.  Together they launched the Sunday Express Magazine in 1981.  Charles died in 1999.

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Anna Wintour’s Family Tree
  • The Wintour Line
  • Thomas Wynter (1684-1746) from Kendal m. Ann Forth (b. 1690)
  • – Forth Wynter/Wintour (1717-1790)
  • Forth Wintour m. Ann Fitzgerald from Surrey (1734-1778) in 1751
  • – Charles Wintour (1754-1817)
  • – Thomas Wintour (1754-1815)
  • – Ann Wintour (1756-1825)
  • – George Wintour (1769-1839) m. Louisa Hillier
  • – Henry Wintour (1777-1804)
  • Rev. Henry Wintour m. Mildred Briggs (1777-1835) in Berkshire in 1801
  • – Charles Wintour (1802-1834)
  • – Fitzgerald Wintour (1803-1864)
  • – Anna Wintour (1804-1880)
  • Rev. Fitzgerald Wintour m. Jane Dayrell (1804-1888) in Cambridgeshire in 1826
  • – Fitzgerald Wintour (1829-1888)
  • – Mildred Wintour (b. 1832)
  • – Cordelia Wintour (1835-1905) m. Benjamin Howarth-Booth
  • Rev. Fitzgerald Wintour m. Isabel Milnes Gaskell (1833-1916) in Yorkshire in 1855
  • – Mildred Wintour (1856-1915) m. James Cross
  • – Mary Wintour (1857-1909)
  • – Isabel Wintour (1859-1942)
  • – Fitzgerald Wintour (1861-1949)
  • – Francis Wintour (1862-1942) m. Emeline Prince
  • – Evelyn Wintour (1865-1940)
  • – Ann Wintour (1869-1954)
  • – Kathleen Wintour (1870-1963)
  • – Charles Wintour (1872-1916/Battle of Jutland) m. Ethel Day
  • Major General Fitzgerald Wintour m. Alice Foster (1875-1979) in Essex in 1912
  • – Cordelia Wintour (1912-2007) m. Baron Eric James (of Rusholme)
  • – Charles Wintour (1917-1999)
  • Charles Vere Wintour (1917-1999) m. Nora Baker (1917-1995) in 1940 (divorced in 1979); rem. Audrey Slaughter (1929-2020)
  • – Gerald Wintour (died in 1951)
  • – Anna Wintour (b. 1949)
  • – James (Jim) Wintour (b. 1951)
  • – Nora Wintour (b. 1953)
  • – Patrick Wintour (b. 1954) m. Madeleine Bunting (divorced). rem. Rachel Sylvester

 

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