Descendants of George Wills


Mary Knight

A note on a family tree states "Went to Australia c 1822."

Mary Knight farmed Lenda in 1822. Lenda sold to C.C. Wills about 1838.

The only evidence for emigration to Australia is that Dick Wills of Devon was told of it by his grandfather.
Kath Hodge (Melbourne) said they emigrated because their house burnt down she did not know where or its name. Dick Wills can confirm Lenda was burnt from a story told him by his great aunt and he also saw the remains of the burnt timbers recently (2001) when the roof was renewed.

100. Charles James Wills

Employed at Kaduna. Died at sea.

102. Alfred Wills

Alfred discovered copper at Kadina and the Governor of SA. gave him 100 guineas. It is believed that Alfred had an argument with his father and left home, his father gave him two wagons.

67. John Wills

Of Odicknell, Kingskerswell and Blackingstone farm, Bridford.

Elizabeth Cann

Of Moretonhampstead.

69. Thomas Wills

Notes written by Max Parsons in 1989.

Thomas of Bickington married Susan Perryman (born February 28, 1797, the daughter of Richard & Susan Perryman of Ilsington). Thomas & Susan set up their home in Bovey Tracey where they raised their family of five children. The nearest church was the Baptist Church of Hen (now Hind) Street and, either for convenience or preference, Thomas and Susan attended there rather than at the Church of England as their parents had always favoured.

( Note by Tom Wills written October 2006 - Mike Wills has located the following document:-
Bovey Tracey Parish - Bastardy Orders
-Thomas Wills the younger, father of Susan Perriman's male bastard born 16 January to pay 18s and 1s 6d a week - ref. 2160 A/PO 887 - date: 1825 ---
Thus is explained why they attended the Baptist Church and not their own Church of England. )

It was not until 20 June 1827 that Thomas married Susan Perriman at Dawlish. Their first three children were baptised at Henn St Baptist Chapel on 6 June 1831 and the eldest is shown as George born 16 Jan 1824.
In the Baptist Church register,under the date June 6, 1831, we can see the following records -

"Births - Baptist Register, Hen Street in Bovey Tracey, County of Devon.
Congregation founded 1773, Registration commenced 1789,
Baptist Minister Joseph Lee Sprague kept records since 1817.
(Registrations transmitted to Registration Commission, March 1837.)"

"Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Susan Wills of
Parish of Bovey Tracey in the county of Devon was born 8th day of January 1831.
Signed - Joseph Lee Sprague. Registered 6 June 1831."

The next two entries in the Register were for Elizabeth's older brothers, George (born 16 January 1824) and Charles (born 8 November 1828) all three were registered on the same day in June. It was not until 1836 that Thomas who was born 27 November 1833 was registered. Sarah was born in 1839.

The English Census, taken at ten-year intervals from 1841, provided us with a wealth of information about the development of Thomas and Susan's family excepting the eldest, George who does not appear in the census records. We presume that he either died or left the district before he was 18 years old.

There was, and still is, one main street running through Bovey Tracey - below the bridge it is Main Street but as it winds up the hill it becomes Fore Street. In 1841 when Charles was 12, the family lived in Bridge Row, the father Thomas worked as a carrier and Susan was busy looking after the other three children. Nearby, in Bridge House, Joseph Sprague, the Baptist minister lived with two of his family - Mary (25), Anne (14) and a housekeeper Elizabeth Corum (25).

Along Main Street, Thomas & Susan could visit relatives - John Wills (40), his wife Susan (35) and children, Mary (3) and Susan (3 months); John Perryman (35) a thatcher by trade, his wife Mary (30) and their children Sarah (6), John (4) and Mary (1).

In the summer of 1851, the family lived in Fore Street, Thomas 48 was working as a labourer, Charles 22 was living at home but Thomas aged 17 had taken a live-in job as a stable servant with another family in Bovey. Sarah 12 was attending school while sister Elizabeth 20 and their mother looked after the family and a lodger, James Morgan, an unmarried stonemason from Okehampton.

For five years there had been famine in Ireland caused by potato blight; conditions in England were not much better, so many young people were emigrating to the colonies. In 1851, when news of the Australian gold strike reached Devon, Australia became the popular destination.

A third cousin of Thomas Wills - Dr William Wills - decided to take his two Sons, William John and Thomas James, to Australia and this exciting news could have been a topic of conversation in the Wills of Fore Street's family home. William John (the ill-fated explorer) and his younger brother Thomas James sailed in October 1852, the doctor followed in 1853, Charles sailed on October 31,1854 and Thomas married Sarah Davis before the couple left England for Australia on November 14,1856.

Sarah 22 years-old, married William Williams, had a daughter Hannah born in 1868 in Australia. Hannah, when she was~24 married Thomas Wills' son - Joseph Henry. (Did Sarah marry William in Devon and emigrate or did she follow her brothers and marry William in Tasmania? Only further research will clarify this.)

By 1871, Arthur Gaved was employed at the local pottery as a wagonner, his wife Elizabeth aged 40, had five children to look after - Arthur (10), Mary (8), Thomas (5) John (3) and James (1), all were born at Bovey and lived with their grandparents, Thomas 68 and Susan~63. Thomas was a farmer but they all lived in the family house at Fore Street. In the same street lived two of Susan's nephews - William Perryman (28), his wife Ann (25) children Susan (4), Allan (2) and Alliente (9 months) - also Joseph Perryman (26) his wife Harriett (23) and children John (2) and Alfred (3 months).

Thomas Wills died at Newton Abbot between July & September 1874 aged 72. His wife Susan died between 1871 and 1881. Arthur Gaved probably died about the same time for in 1881 Elizabeth Gaved was "head of the house" at Fore Street; she was then 50 and a laundress by trade. Mary (18) was unmarried and living at home with her mother. They were looking after a number of lodgers - Thomas Wyatt (30) a widower and labourer at the local pottery, his daughter Sarah (10), William Ellis (21) an unmarried brick-layer. Elizabeth Gaved's other children would have been aged between 11 and 20 but could not be located in the census of 1881.

In the 1870's there were many deaths from smallpox and measles. Social conditions were difficult - in London water from the Thames was unfit to drink, mad dogs roamed the streets and poverty spiralled. More than 80,000 Londoners were classed as paupers. Although conditions would have been better in Devon - it is not surprising that so many English men and women migrated to Australia.

76. George Wills

Idsford and Lounston farm.

94. William Wills

Surgeon. He came to Australia in 1853 - 1863 ?

Sarah Mary Elizabeth Calley

Of Totnes.

130. William John Wills

William John Wills was navigator for Robert O'Hara Burke who set out to be the first to cross Australia from south to north. They both perished on the return journey.