At the time of the 1901 Census there were 12 people with the surname WILLS in Kingswear. Two of these were my grandfather Philip Henry and his sister Caroline. The remainder consisted of two families and one individual.
John Bell Wills, an Agricultural Labourer, and his wife Mary L Wills lived in Wood Lane. They both came originally from Stoke Fleming and were, respectively, 69 and 67 years old.
George Henry Wills and his wife Anne Maria lived in Higher Street. He was a General Labourer aged 33 and came originally from Brixham. Anne Maria was 38 and from Kingswear. They had five children: George Henry (14), Eva Annie (12), Sydney (10), Ida Mary (8) and Fredrick (2). All the children were born in Kingswear; George Henry, the son, was a garden-worker.
George had married Annie Maria Evans in Q3, 1886. Of interest only is that in 1881 Annie had been a general servant in the household of James H Short (in my family tree).
The final Wills in the village was three year old John Edward Wills. He came from Paignton and was with his uncle and aunt, William and Emma Dear and their two daughters; living in Wood Lane.
In 1891 there had been three Wills families in Kingswear - those of John B and George H (as above) plus that of William J. None of these were in the village in earlier years. However, they are all linked - with their origins in Stoke Fleming. A short family tree for these has been prepared:
Edward Wills married Mary Bennet Mortimor in Blackawton on 23/7/1822. They had four children baptised in Stoke Fleming: Kezia (25/1/1829), John Bell (11/12/1831), George (26/1/1834) and Sarah (14/8/1836).
In the 1841 Census they were living at Readlap, Stoke Fleming with three children - George, Robert (born c.1838) and Sarah (2mths old). The whereabouts of Kezia and John are unknown; presumably the first Sarah was deceased.
In 1851 Edward and Mary were in Stoke Fleming Village. Edward was a Farm Labourer and appears to have come from Dartmouth originally (he was not born in Stoke Fleming). Sarah, now aged 10, is with them plus Samuel (18). John (now 19) was a servant with Thomas Shanger at Little Dartmouth Farm with his younger brother George (a farm labourer).
By 1861 John was married. He was now an agricultural labourer living at Labourers Cottage, Brownston, Brixham with his wife Mary and their 10 month old daughter Sarah.
In 1871 John and Mary were living at Penny Rowden, Halwell. He was still an agricultural labourer. Their children were: Sarah K (10), Emma (9), William J (6), George H (4) and Ann M (under1). The four eldest were all born at Brixham, Ann at Ashprington.
1881 is something of a mystery as the whereabouts of the family have yet to be found.
In 1891 John and Mary were living in Woodbine Cottages, Wood Lane, Kingswear. He remained a labourer and the household included two sons - Walter J (15) and Charles (3) plus two grandchildren Edward Wills (12) and Alice M Wills (3). The parents of the grandchildren are unknown. Both of John and Mary's elder sons were also in Kingswear.
William J (a labourer) and Elizabeth were also in Woodbine Cottages with two daughters Emma A (9) and Edith M (1). There were also three stepchildren - Thomas G Bell (17), Georgina Bell (5) and Alfred Bell (7). Elizabeth was considerably older than William. She was the widow of a ships carpenter when they married in Q3, 1888 and there were earlier children of her first marriage - Elizabeth (born 1868), George (1869) and Amy E (1871). The eldest of William's daughters - Emma - suggests that William too had been married before.
George H (a carter) and his wife Annie M were in Prospect Cottages, Brixham Road, Kingswear with their children George H (4) and Annie E (2)
Kingswear Cemetery is the last resting place of some of these.
John Ball Wills was buried 7/6/1909; his wife Mary L on 20/7/1921
George Henry Wills was buried 3/4/1937; his wife Anne Maria on 24/8/1940 - see the newspaper clipping below.
William J Wills was buried 17/10/1950; his wife Elizabeth Ann on 29/2/1920
Before the families above moved to Kingswear there had been earlier Wills families.
The 1871 Census has Thomas and Mary Wills residing at Cottage, Kingswear - aged 55 and 60 respectively. Judging by their ages, this was probably the same couple as the ones who in 1861 had been at Labourers Cottage, Coleton, Brixham in 1861. If correct, this Thomas came from Stoke Fleming.
In 1861 there were no Wills living in the village but ten years earlier there had been several.
Lawrence Wills, a 66 year old widowed Farm Labourer was lodging in Higher Street. He originated in Stoke Fleming.
Agnes Wills (31), a mariners wife, lived with her children Agnes (7), Kezziah (4) and James (1) in Lower Street. In 1861 she and her children were with her husband James in Stoke Fleming. James, a master mariner, was from Dawlish and is #59 on the Dawlish page.
Edward Wills (31) and his wife Ann (22) were living in Higher Street. He was a Farm Labourer from Strete.
In 1841 the only Wills family in the village was Thomas and Mary, with their 3 year old son Lawrence. Because adult ages were not recorded accurately in this census it is not possible to say whether this was the same couple as noted above in 1871.