Show ContentsWillard History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Willard arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Willard comes from the Norman given name Willard. This name is derived from the Germanic roots will, meaning desire, and heard, meaning strong or hard. [1]

Early Origins of the Willard family

The surname Willard was first found in east Kent and Sussex where they were Lords of the Manor of Eastbourne. The family were originally named Villiard, or Guillarrt, and were from Caen in Normandy in pre Conquest times. [2] In the Domesday Book they are recorded variously as Wielardus, Wilardus, and Wlward. [3] [4] Further speculation on the origin of this distinguished family name of the U.S.A., can be deduced from the Willard Memoir by Joseph Willard published in Boston Mass. in 1858. [4] Woollard is a small village on the River Chew in the Chew Valley in East Somerset. Some of the first records of the name include: Wihelardus de Trophil who was listed in the History of Northumberland in 1168 and Wilard de Pikeeden who was listed in the same source in 1227. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 list Emayn Wylard. William Willarde was listed in Kent in 1602 and Nicholas Willard from Kent married Jane Coumber at Canterbury in 1690. [5]

Early History of the Willard family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Willard research. Another 112 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1605, 1617, 1630, 1634, 1640, 1643, 1672, 1676, 1692, 1701 and 1707 are included under the topic Early Willard History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Willard Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Willard are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Willard include Willard, Wilard, Viliard, Villiard, Wielard, Willardby, Willardsey, Willardsham, Willardstone and many more.

Early Notables of the Willard family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Simon Willard (1605-1676), English settler to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1634, he was one of the thirteen heads of families in Concord that signed Reverend Peter Bulkeley's 1643 petition to Governor...
  • John Willard (c. 1672-1692), one of the people executed for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, during the Salem witch trials of 1692

Willard Ranking

In the United States, the name Willard is the 1,337th most popular surname with an estimated 22,383 people with that name. [6]

United States Willard migration to the United States +

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Willard, or a variant listed above:

Willard Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Simon Willard (1605-1676), English settler and army major from Horsmonden, Kent, who arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1634, founder of Concord and served in the Massachusetts General Court (1636 to 1654), progenitor to Rev. Samuel Willard and Simon Willard, the clockmaker [7]
  • George Willard, who settled in New England in 1635
  • George Willard, who arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1638 [7]
  • Samuel Willard, who landed in New England in 1640 [7]
  • Richard Willard, who arrived in Virginia in 1654 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Willard Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Martin Willard, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1749 [7]
  • Christian Willard, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1749 [7]
Willard Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Charles D Willard, who landed in America in 1807 [7]
  • Lewis Willard, aged 23, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1812 [7]
  • Ephraim Willard, aged 35, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1822 [7]
  • B. F. Willard, who settled in New York in 1822
  • M. N. Willard settled with their son in San Francisco, California in 1852

Canada Willard migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Willard Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Levy Willard U.E. who settled in Eastern District [Cornwall], Ontario c. 1784 [8]
  • Mr. Solomon Willard U.E. born in New Hampshire, USA who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [8]
Willard Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Henry Willard, aged 19, who landed in Montreal in 1849

Australia Willard migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Willard Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Robert Willard, aged 19, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "Melbourne"

West Indies Willard migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [9]
Willard Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Jo Willard, who settled in St. Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635
  • Jo Willard, aged 16, who arrived in St Christopher in 1635 [7]
  • Mr. John Willard, (b. 1619), aged 16, British settler traveling aboard the ship "William and John" arriving in St Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Willard (post 1700) +

  • Frederick Charles "Fred" Willard (1939-2020), American actor Emmy-nominated from Cleveland, Ohio, known for his roles in This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration
  • Solomon Willard (1783-1861), American carver and builder, best known for designing and overseeing the Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown, Massachusetts
  • Kenneth Henderson "Ken" Willard (b. 1943), former American NFL football running back/fullback
  • Huntington Faxon Willard (b. 1953), American human geneticist
  • Daniel Willard (1861-1942), American railroad executive, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) from 1910 to 1941
  • Dallas Albert Willard (1935-2013), American philosopher
  • Charles Wesley Willard (1827-1880), American politician, lawyer and newspaper editor, U.S. Representative from Vermont (1869-1875)
  • Alexander Hamilton Willard (1777-1865), American blacksmith on the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • Aaron Willard (1757-1844), American entrepreneur, an industrialist, and a designer of clocks in Boston
  • Ashbel Parsons Willard (1820-1860), American politician, 12th Lieutenant Governor of Indiana, 11th Governor of Indiana
  • ... (Another 69 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • Leonard Frederick Willard (1922-1939), British Boy 1st Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [11]
RMS Titanic
  • Miss Constance Willard, aged 21, American First Class passenger from Duluth, Minnesota who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 8 [12]

Suggested Readings for the name Willard +

  • History of Valuable Pioneers of the State of Arizona by Sally Munds Williams.
  • The Gump Family in America, 1732-1983 (also Willard Family) by Arlo K. Gump.
  • The Family of Stephen Frank Willard, Wethersfield, Connecticut by Stephen Franklin Willard.

  1. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges, A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8)
  2. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  7. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  10. Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's (Retrieved October 4th 2021 from
  11. Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from
  12. Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from on Facebook