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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: English, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Willis family come from? What is the Scottish Willis family crest and coat of arms? When did the Willis family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Willis family history?

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Spelling variations of this family name include: Willis, Wilis and others.

First found in Berwickshire an ancient county of Scotland, presently part of the Scottish Borders Council Area, located in the eastern part of the Borders Region of Scotland. The earliest Scottish bearers of this name are likely descended from Will the Crowner Gunn. Although the name has also long existed in England where they are believed to be descended from Baron Welles, the Duke of Somerset, a Norman Baron from Welles in Normandy who was granted Rockingham Castle.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Willis research. Another 308 words(22 lines of text) covering the years 1214, 1435, 1577, 1581, and 1625 are included under the topic Early Willis History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Willis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Willis family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 93 words(7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Willis Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Anne Willis settled in Virginia in 1620
  • Ann Willis, who arrived in Virginia in 1620
  • Ann Willis, who landed in Virginia in 1620
  • Nathaniel Willis settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1630
  • Nathaniel Willis, who settled in Boston in 1630


Willis Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Jacob Willis, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1702
  • Matthew Willis, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Ellioner Willis, who arrived in Virginia in 1717
  • Pheebe Willis, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1772

Willis Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Mary Ann Willis, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • Margaret Willis, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • James Willis, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812
  • Eleanor Willis, who landed in New York, NY in 1816
  • Ellen Willis, aged 18, landed in Mobile, Ala in 1820-1873


Willis Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • William Willis settled in Quidividi, Newfoundland, in 1703
  • John Willis, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Penolope Willis, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Josiah Willis settled in Kiers Cove, Labrador, in 1766

Willis Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Isaac Willis, who arrived in Canada in 1834

Willis Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • George Willis, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Thomas Willis, English convict from Southampton, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Austraila
  • George Willis arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Buckinghamshire" in 1839
  • Elizabeth Rebecca Willis arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Buckinghamshire" in 1839
  • Frances Willis arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Buckinghamshire" in 1839


Willis Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Richard Willis landed in Nelson, New Zealand in 1842
  • Thomas Willis arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wyvern" in 1856
  • Thomas Willis arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "William Watson" in 1859
  • A. Willis arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Black Eagle" in 1861
  • Robert Willis arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Beauty" in 1863


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  • Elizabeth Willis (b. 1961), American poet, a literary critic and a professor of literature and creative writing
  • Walter Bruce Willis (b. 1955), American two-time Emmy Award-winning, Golden Globe Award-winning and four-time Saturn Award-nominated actor and film producer perhaps best known for his "Die Hard" series of movies
  • Harold "Chuck" Willis (1928-1958), American blues, rhythm and blues, and rock singer and songwriter
  • Pharmacist's Mate First Class John Harlan Willis (1921-1945), American Navy sailor awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945
  • Robert "Chick" Willis (1934-2013), American blues singer and guitarist
  • Henry Willis (1821-1901), English organ builder who built or restored many of the Cathedral organs of Britain
  • Ted Edward Henry Willis (1918-1992), Baron Willis of Chislehurst, British author
  • Bailey Willis (1857-1949), American geological engineer
  • Major Richard Raymond Willis VC (1876-1966), English recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Norman David Willis (b. 1933), English trade union leader

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  • The Family History of Nathaniel Purdue Willis of Eason, Oklahoma Territory by Kathryn S. Carter.
  • Some Willis Families of New England by Aurie Willis Morrison.
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  1. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  2. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  3. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  4. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  5. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  6. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  7. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  8. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  9. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  10. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  11. ...

The Willis Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Willis Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 8 January 2015 at 12:49.

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