Mr. White's paternal ancestors were of Irish descent.
Sprung from a family of judges and politicians, Mr. White was born on November 3, 1845, on a plantation of 1,600 acres six miles north of Thibodaux, Louisiana, United States. His grandfather, Dr. James White, was a physician, lawyer, politician, and U.S. federal judge. The other grandfather, Tench Ringgold, was the United States marshal of the District of Columbia. His father, Edward Douglass White Sr., in turn, had been a judge for the New Orleans City Court, a congressman, and, eventually, governor of Louisiana. His mother was Catherine Ringgold. Edward White was thus born into a family securely fastened to the law.