Descendants of Ann Harris

First Generation


1. Ann Harris was born in 1792 in Leicester, England. She died on 22 Dec 1856 in Bow Bow Creek.

Ann Harris was born in Leicester. She was a literate servant who was sentenced in 1831 to 14 years gaol for pawning 3 silver spoons valued at ₤1.15.0 and 1 silver spoon valued at 2s owned by her employer even though it was her first offence. Ann Harris was described as 5’2” (157 cm) in height with a fair ruddy complexion, light hair, hazel eyes and a thick nose! her death certificate states that her father was John Harris, a farmer.

It is possible that her married name could have been "Willis". Following a search of UK records by Ann Bain (a descendent of Albert Charles Wills) the best fitting records for the family are of a John Willis marrying Ann Harris in 1820 at Newbury, Berkshire and the baptism of two sons John Willis and George Willis in 1823 and 1826, respectively at Braithwell, Yorkshire. It is possible that Ann’s name was recorded as Wills by the UK penal system and she accepted it as her name. All records of the family in Australia are under ‘Wills’.

Ann Harris was transported on the "Burrell" with her two young sons who may have been disguised as girls to allow them to travel with their mother. On arrival, Ann Harris was given a domestic service placement with no provision for children. Her children, John and George were placed in the Male Orphan School at Liverpool. Ann was subsequently assigned as housekeeper to William Middleton who was the first settler at Bow Bow Creek in the Manning Valley on the mid-north coast of NSW. George was able to accompany his mother while John remained at the Orphan School.

While in the service of William Middleton, in 1836 Ann Harris gave birth to a daughter, Annie Wills, with her legal husband, John Wills, registered as the father. It is assumed that William Middleton was the biological father.

Ann Harris gained her ‘Certificate of Freedom’ on 23 Dec 1845.
Surname First Alias CFNo Date of Certificate Vessel Year SRRef Film Remarks
WILLS Anne 45/1582 23 Dec 1845 Burrell 1832 4/4402 1021 TL 38/1440

Ann Harris died of dropsy in December 1856 aged about 64. This was only a few weeks after William Middleton drowned in a dam on his farm.

Ann married (1) John Willis on 31 Jul 1820 in Newbury Berkshire. John was born in England.

Nothing is known of John Wills (or Willis) and he certainly did not accompany his wife Ann Harris when she was transported to New South Wales with their two sons, John and George, aboard the Burrell in 1831. It appears that Ann Harris and her two sons made no attempt to contact John Wilis during their lives.

John and Ann had the following children:

+ 2 M i John Wills
+ 3 M ii George Wills

Ann married (2) William Middleton. William died in 1856 in Bow Bow Creek.

William Middleton was a pioneer settler at Bo Bo (Bow Bow) Creek in the Manning Valley on NSW. He became the first land holder in the area when he purchased 25 acres at public auction in August 1847.

Ann Harris was assigned to William Middleton, probably as his housekeeper. While in the service of William Middleton, in 1836 Ann Harris gave birth to a daughter, Annie Wills, with her legal husband, John Wills, registered as the father. It is assumed that William Middleton was the biological father as Ann's husband never travelled to Australia.

William died in 1856 by drowning on his property. In his will he left all his real and personal estate to Ann Harris for her sole use and after her decease what was left was to be equally divided between Ann Harris' three children (John, George and Annie). Thus William Middleton seemed to have accepted all Ann Harris' children as an integral part of his family, eve nthough her eldest son John never lived at Bow Bow Creek.

Ann Harris died of dropsy a few weeks later in December 1856 aged about 64. Annie seems to have sold or given her share in the Middleton estate to her half-brother George and when John died a few years later in 1860 aged 36, George inherited all William Middleton’s 25 acre property. The proprety remained in his family until 1981 when it was sold.

William and Ann had the following children:

+ 4 F iii Annie Wills

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