Facts and Events
In his will Francis Willis identifies his place of birth as St. Fawkes and St. Alsford Parish in the city of Oxford England. His parents are unknown, though some have identified his father as Francis, son of Francis. Others have identified his father as a Henry Willis. In no case has documentation showing the connection, been located. His will dated 1689 identifies several brothers and sisters, as well as a number of cousins, suggesting that there was a substantial Willis family in Oxford about 1612. Since he left a bequest to the city, even though he had long since left it, we can assume that he had considerable ties to that area, perhaps implying an extended family.
He married his wife Jane (some identify her without sources as "Jane Simmons"), at an unknown date. It seems likely that this marriage occurred in England. Francis and Jane apparently had no children since none are identified in his will written in 1689, though they could have predeceased him.
Francis left England for the Jamestown Colony as a young man. His name appears on Gloucester County Land records as early as 1642; it is plausible that he was there at an earlier date, as some have intimated. Here he established a substantial plantation known as White Hall (1) between Ware and Severn Rivers off Mobjack Bay.
Francis was active in civic governance, serving first as county Clerk, and later in the House of Burgesses. Later, his nephew and heir, Francis Willis (?-?), would continue this same tradition. In 1675 Francis and his wife returned to England, settleing in East Greenwich, Kent County. At his death he left a substantial estate, bequething a total of 4030 pounds sterling to various persons, including his wife Jane (1000 pounds) and his nephew Francis Willis (1000 pounds). These bequests, in addition to various property distributions, were the equivalent of something more than $1.5 million pounds in 2002 (1). In addition to monetary dispersions, Francis gave substantial property to two nephews. Nephew William received property on Craney Creek (possibly in Oxfordshire, or Kent County), while Fransis property in Virginia was given to Nephew Francis. Nephew Francis took possession of that property shortly after his uncles death, and lived out his life in America.
Ancestry and Family Relations
A discussion of Francis family relations is provided at Gloucester County Willis Relations
The following diagram summarizes key relationships, primarily in the male line descendancy. For the most part, the line of Gloucester County Willis' descend through Francis III's nephew Francis Willis IV
Will identifies no children. Estate was divided between various relatives.
The Willis's of Virginia Maud Porter, 1964 1964, Miller Printing Company; Ashville, North Carolina Source:Tyler, 1915:124-125