Topic: Captain E. B. Willis

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Another old identity of the Ellesmere has passsd away in the person of Captain E. B. Willis, who died at his residence, " Willisden," Southbridge, early yesterday morning, after a long and painful illness.

Source: Ellesmere Guardian, Volume XVIII, Issue 1812, 6 January 1897, Page 2 Obituary.

Another old identity of the Ellesmere has passed away in the person of Captain E. B. Willis, who died at his residence, " Willisden," Southbridge, early yesterday morning, after a long and painful illness. His demise was therefore not unexpected.

In the removal of the Captain from our midst, Southbridge loses one of its oldest and best known characters whose memory will not soon be forgotten. He was a successful farmer, and though not taking a very prominent interest in public affairs, his intelligence and education rendered his counsel and advice valuable in whatever position he occupied. For many years he acted as District Coroner, a Justice of the Peace and a leading member of the Ellesmere A. and P. Association, and always took a warm, and for a long period, an active interest in the affair's of St James' Church of England, the bell of which, tolled the first melancholy announcement in the early morning that the spirit of the deceased had quitted its earthly tabernacle. 

The captain leaves behind a widow and grown-up family, who have the sympathy of a very wide circle of friends in their bereavement. As will be observed by the funeral notice, the remains of the deceased will be taken to their last resting place in the Ellesmere Public Cemetery tomorrow morning, the cortege leaving  "Willisden" at eleven o'clock for St James Church for the customary service before proceding to its destination.

More Information can be found In the University of Canterbury Collection: Item ID: 233074 Title: Willis Family papers 


Robert Bruce Willis (1827-1896) came to New Zealand in 1871 taking up land near Southbridge, and calling his farm Willisden. He was the son of John Walpole Willis (1793-1877) a barrister, later judge in Georgetown, Guiana. Jane Willis was a daughter of J.W. Willis from a second marriage. R.B. Willis had seven children, of whom Robert Bruce Baker Willis (1855-1933) and Thomas Hamilton Willis (1856-1934) farmed at Willisden and later Matamata, then Te Ahuahu, Bay of Islands (R. B.B.W.) and Ashburton (T.H.W). There are 73 diary items of which six are by John Walpole Willis, England and Guiana, covering the period 1829-1869, three are by Jane Willis, Isle of Man, 1859-1969, one is by Thomas Hamilton Willis, Southbridge, 1872-1973, and 63 are by Robert Bruce Baker Willis, Southbridge, 1871-1977, Matamata 1878-1992, Te Ahuahu, 1892-1907, Willisden, Southbridge, 1908-1933. There is also a letterbook 1902-14. The manuscript material is accompanied by a few published works relating to the background of the Willis family and the family of J.W. Willis first wife Lady Mary Isabella Bowes-Lyon. Among the published works is an 1826 prayer book with manuscript genealogical notes, the entries dating from 1829 to 1915. There is also a bound scrapbook entitled 'Friendly reminiscences', 1827, which contains poems, watercolours and few loose photographs.

Created Date: 1982/11/01 Format Extent: 2m Type: Diaries



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Captain E. B. Willis

First Names:Robert Bruce
Last Name:Willis
Date of Birth:1827
Place of Birth:1896
User Name:selwyn library