William Willis

Author: Gerald Soper
Date published: 26/01/2022


                                    William Willis (1860 – 1942)

                                    Ann Willis (1866 – 1951)

Ellen Louise Willis (1889 – 1893)

Edward George Thomas Willis (1895 – 1896)

Florence Dorothy Willis (1893 – 1910)


William Willis was born on 6 December 1860 in Woodspeen the son of Edward and Harriet, nee Eggleton, Willis. He was recorded with his parents and his sister Kate aged 4 in Speenhamland in the 1861 census, Edward was recorded an agricultural labourer. His father Edward died in March 1869. In the 1871 census William was recorded with his mother Harriet, sisters Kate aged 13, Mary aged 7, Elizabeth aged 4, Ellen aged 1 and brother Edward aged 4 living in Northcroft Lane in Newbury. His mother Harriet was a char woman and William was recorded as a scholar.


William enlisted in The Black Watch in Abingdon on 6 January 1880. After a period based in the United Kingdom he then served in Gibraltar (March 1881 to July 1882), Malta (July 1882), Egypt (July 1882 to May 1883), Gibraltar (May 1883 to August 1884), Egypt (August 1884 to March 1886) before returning to the UK. He was then placed on the Army Reserve from March until January 1892. He received the Egyptian Medal for his service in Egypt. It is thought he also served in the Boer War although no records have survived of any service.


Ann Tibble was born on 5 January 1866 in Boxford, the daughter of Thomas and Maria, nee Wigmore, Tibble. In the 1871 census Ann was living with her mother, brother John aged 10 and sisters Maria aged 13, Caroline aged 8 and Sophie aged 2 in Boxford, no trace of her father Thomas in the census. Annie entered the National School for girls in Newbury on 16 April 1877, unfortunately the date she left was not recorded. No trace of Ann in the 1881 census, she was not living with her parents and siblings.


William Willis and Annie Tibble married in 1887 in Newbury district. A few years later in the 1891 census William and Annie were living as lodgers at 117 Katesgrove Lane in Reading with children Beatrice aged 3, Ellen aged 1 and Annie aged 2 months. William was a general labourer.


William and Ann’s daughter Ellen Louise died 5 July 1893 aged 4. She was buried at Newtown Road Cemetery in Newbury on 8 July 1893. An announcement appeared in the Newbury Weekly News dated 13 July 1893 as below.


WILLIS – July 5, at 6 Caroline Place, Newbury, Ellen Louise, daughter of William Willis, aged 4.


Another son Edward George Thomas was born in 1895 but sadly died in February 1896 and was buried on 26 February 1896 at Newtown Road Cemetery.


In the 1901 census William and Annie were living at Diamond Cottages in Railway Road in Newbury with children Edith aged 9, Florence Dorothy aged 7, William Albert aged 4 and Kate Sophie aged 1. William was a gas stoker.


William and Ann’s daughter Florence Dorothy died October 1910 aged 17. She was buried at Newtown Road Cemetery in Newbury on 2 November 1910.


A few months later in the 1911 census William and Annie were living at 36 Connaught Road in Newbury with children Francis aged 9, Edward George aged 7 and Catherine Dorothy aged 8 months. William was still a gas stoker, working for Newbury Corporation Gas Works.


William signed up for The Royal Berkshire Regiment on 19 September 1914 and served with them in the UK until 2 March 1917.



In September 1939 when the National Register was taken William and Annie were living at 29 Connaught Road in Newbury with daughter Catherine Dorothy and a lodger Elsie Hallam. William was recorded a retired general labourer, Annie was carrying out unpaid domestic duties and Catherine was an invalid.


William died 26 November 1942 at his home 29 Connaught Road and he was buried at Newtown Road Cemetery on 11 November 1942. A report of the funeral appeared in the Newbury Weekly News dated 19 November 1942 which mentioned he had been a keen bandsman in the Salvation Army for 30 years.


Ann died in October 1951 still living at 29 Connaught Road Terrace and she was buried at Newtown Road Cemetery on 26 October 1951.


William’s parents were both buried at Newtown Road Cemetery, his father Edward on 2 April 1869 and his mother Harriet on 23 November 1912.


Ann’s parents were also both buried at Newtown Road Cemetery, her father Thomas Tibble on 23 September 1881 and her mother Maria on 10 April 1912.


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