Sunday, June 19, 2011

Was Guillaume (William) Witt a Hugenot? Not!

It is a family history legend that has been around for decades. Unfortunately since the marriage of the internet and genealogy, this genealogical myth has spread like a bad Trojan or virus across the net even after authoritative genealogy information and sources have been published disbuting it.

This is one myth that will just not die! Don't believe me, just do a search in the public trees on for “Guillaume” Witt, and you will see dozens have this myth in their lineage. It is easy to copy someone else's tree on Ancestry, but not as easy to do a bit of genuine genealogical research to prove what you have posted.

So for those cousins who have not been as wise as they should, here is the digest version of the evidence with links so you can investigate the story of the Witt Hugenot myth on your own.

From noted Witt family researcher, Robert W. Baird and his most excellent website at website at here is a bit of his thoughts on this myth.

"Were the Witt’s Huguenots? By Robert W. Baird [i]

"Probably not. The claim that the Witts were Huguenots was first made in print in 1924 by the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin. No evidence was offered other than the proximity of the brothers John and William Witt to the Huguenot settlement at Manakin. Manakin was located on the south bank of the James River a few miles southwest of the land the Witt brothers bought in 1715. A few hundred Huguenots settled there in 1700, others elsewhere along the river. In fact, there are no Witts listed among the Huguenot settlers of that community (or any other). Nor are any Witts found among any naturalization records before or after the settlement. While there was a scattering of Huguenots among the earlier settlers of the area, there is no indication at all that the Witts were French.

"The Huguenot Society created a myth that William Witt (whom we believe to be the son of John Witt the immigrant) was known as “Guillaume Witt” and immigrated from France to Virginia about 1700. In fact, he never lived in a Huguenot settlement, never appears in any record as French, is never mentioned in the Huguenot parish records, and signed his own name “William Witt”. Some third-generation Witt children did indeed marry children of Huguenots, but this fact is more easily explained by the assimilation of Huguenot descendants into the local population. It is worth noting that the early Huguenot Society publications did not mention any of the Witt records of Henrico and Charles City County, thus apparently were based on the assumption that the Witts arrived in Virginia about 1700."

You can read the rest of Bob's research on this matter at

[i] Copyright © 2001-2003 Robert W. Baird, All Rights Reserved from - Bob’s Genealogy Filing Cabinet.

At the same site is the comments from another noted Witt family researcher Mr. Wayne Witt Bates.

"Faulty rationale begets faulty Tradition. And that's what happened here. However sincere, the faulty Witt tradition can be traced back to "Year Book No. 1," dated 1924, of the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia.

1. William Witt d1754 was not the immigrant, but son of John Witt and wife Ann Daux ; and William Witt was not born in Southern France but in Charles City Co., VA (in order to be with his parents).
2. John Witt was the immigrant and he was imported as a "headright" (plantation owner paid his way) from England, not France (per Land Patent records).
3. Five sons attributed to William Witt d1754 (Lewis, Charles, William, Abner, and David) were not his sons but his grandsons.

a. Lewis & Charles were sons of Benj. Witt d1774 of Buckingham Co., VA
b. William, Abner, and David were sons of John Witt d1782 of Amherst Co., VA

"In 1756, Land Deed of Prince Edward Co., VA of Benjamin Witt (son of William d1754), have as witnesses the names of his brothers, Charles Witt and Lewis Witt."

"And in 1781, Amherst Co., will of John Witt Sr. (son of William d1754), his brothers William Witt Jr., Abner Witt, and David Witt are witnesses

"The first known entry for William Witt (d1754) and his brother John Witt (d ca 1751) was in 1715, when they bought (jointly) 300 acres (known as Young Men's Adventure) from Charles Hudson in Henrico Co (that part now Goochland Co). The deed said that the WITT brothers were from Charles City Co., VA, the county of residence for the immigrant John Witt & wife Ann Daux per Charles City County court records.

"No reason to believe that William Witt (d1754) and his brother John Witt, Jr (d before 1751) came from England .

"Every reason to believe that they were sons of immigrant John Witt/Whitt and Ann Daux who were married after 1670 in Charles City Co., VA, per court records. Further, importation of John Witt to the Charles City County area supported by Land Patents.

"No documentation to support the old Witt tradition which has been published in books, such as

1. Vol. IV, "Compendium of American Genealogy,” by Virkus.
2. Vol. 2, " Virginia Soldiers of 1776,"by Burgess
3. Year Book No. 1 published in 1924 by The Huguenot Society Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia.

"By tradition, this Richard Witt /Whitt was named Richard Oney Witt. By tradition, he was left on doorstep of William Witt d1754 of Charles City, Goochland and Albemarle counties, VA. There is no documentation or association with William Witt d1754 to support this "adoption" tradition."

So if you want to get the real deal on our Witt family, check out the public tree posted by our cousin Gerald Witt at You will get an accurate lineage to get you started properly in your Witt family research.

You will find the absolute best researched information on our colonial Witt familiies at our cousin Robert Baird's website at This is a must visit website if you want to get through the bad stuff and get an accurate genealogy for you Witt line. There is also info on the Daux family via this link.

So if you have made it this far, please help once and for all get rid of the Guillaume Witt myth from your family tree. Time to get that lineage right and share the joy of the real history of our Witt colonial ancestors.