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Where did Joseph Willis' ancestors come from?
Only 15 years before Plymouth Colony was founded, in 1620, by the Pilgrims (passengers of the Mayflower) Joseph Willis' first ancestor set foot on American soil. His name was John Willis. The year was 1635. John Willis'
father was Nathaniel Willis, born about 1575, in Chettle, Dorset, England; he died in London.
John Willis (age 29) sailed April 3, 1635, on the ship "Paul" from Gravesend (a town in northwest Kent, England, near London, on the south bank of the Thames River) for St. Christopher's. John Willis first appears in Bridgewater, (now Plymouth County), Massachusetts, in 1635, when his son John Willis [Jr.] was born and again in Duxbury, Massachusetts, in 1637, when he married Elizabeth (Hodgkins) Palmer on January 2, 1637. She was the widow of William Palmer, Jr.
John Willis was born in London, Middlesex, England around 1606 and died in
1692 in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Elizabeth Hodgkins Willis was born in 1617, in England, and died in 1681. She was the daughter of Henry Hodgkins and Anne Winthrop Hodgkins.
John Willis and Elizabeth Hodgkins Willis had 9 known children of which all were born in the Plymouth area of Massachusetts. They were Sarah Willis, John Willis, Nathaniel Willis, Jonathan Willis, Comfort Willis, Elizabeth Willis, Joseph Willis (1651-1703), Hannah Willis, and Benjamin Willis [I] (1643-1696).
The Great Colonial Hurricane was in August of 1635. It was the most intense hurricane to hit New England since European colonization. If John Willis had sailed a month or two later he might not have made it to America alive.
Plymouth Colony had grown in the early years after 1630, when the population was about 300-400. From May 1634 the population of New England rose sharply through the rest of the decade but the bulk of the new immigrants went elsewhere, not to Plymouth Colony. John Willis must have known everyone in the Plymouth Colony area, including William Bradford (1590 -1657) who was an English Separatist leader of the settlers at Plymouth Colony and Governor of Plymouth Colony when John Willis arrived in 1635. A descendant of John Willis, Joseph Willis (1758-1854), would marry a descendant of William Bradford, Rachel Bradford, a century later.
Joseph Willis (1758-1854) great-grandfather was Benjamin Willis [I]
(1643-1696). Benjamin Willis [I] was born around 1643 in Bridgewater,
Massachusetts and died May 12, 1696, in Bridgewater. Benjamin Willis [I] married Susanna Whitman, around 1681, in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
Susanna Whitman Willis was born in Devonshire, England. Benjamin Willis [I] and Susanna Whitman had 6 known children. They were Abigail Willis, Elizabeth Willis, Susanna Willis, Thomas Willis, Benjamin Willis [II] (1690-1779), and Josie Willis (she married John Counsil; the Counsil's had emigrated from Devonshire, England to America).
Joseph Willis (1758-1854) paternal grandparents were Benjamin Willis [II] and Mary Leonard Willis. Benjamin Willis [II] and Mary Leonard Willis married, in 1719, in Bridgewater. Benjamin Willis [II] was born around 1690 and died in 1779 in Bridgewater.
Benjamin Willis [II] and Mary Leonard Willis had a son named Agerton Willis (circa 1727-1777). Agerton Willis was the father of Joseph Willis (1758-1854).
~ Randy Willis