Early life and family
Winnaretta Singer was the twentieth of the 24 children of Isaac Singer. Her mother was his Parisian-born second wife, Isabella Eugenie Boyer. Winnaretta was born in Yonkers, New York. After the American Civil War, the Singer family moved to Paris, where they remained until the Franco-Prussian War. The family then settled in England, first in London, and then to Paignton, Devon where they moved to Oldway Mansion a 115-room palace built by her father.
Winnaretta's older brother, Adam Mortimer Singer, became one of England's landed gentry. Her younger sister, Isabelle-Blanche (1869-1896) married Jean, duc Decazes. Their daughter, Daisy Fellowes, was raised by Winnaretta after Isabelle-Blanche's death and became a noted socialite, magazine editor, and fashion trendsetter. Winnaretta's younger brother, Paris Singer, was one of the architects and financiers of the resort of Palm Beach, Florida; he had a child by Isadora Duncan. Another brother, Washington Singer, became a substantial donor to the University College of the southwest of England, which later became the University of Exeter; one of the university's buildings is named in his honor.