They were brother and sister, born at the end of the 18th century and baptized in Filey. Their mother, Frances, was unmarried and there are few sources that reference her. The “best fit” indicates that her mother was also Frances, married to John MORGAN.
For most of their adult lives, Frances and Francis went their separate ways. Francis, an agricultural labourer, is working for George GARDINER on a Muston farm in 1851. Ten years later he gives his birthplace as Muston and is living-in at Carr House Farm, a mile or so from the village. In 1871 he is with Frances in Filey. It is the only census (of four) that gives her an occupation.
The lodger that has their family name is George Francis WILLIS. In 1861 Frances tells the enumerator he is her nephew and offers his true name. (His given age, 5, is more accurate than “18” at the 1871 census.)
In 1851 Frances is described as a pauper and shares her small cottage in Church Street with another – and different – young lodger.
Filey Genealogy & Connections has two boys called William Willis born in 1843. One has a substantial pedigree. He marries Mary KNAGGS and they name one of their daughters Frances. The other William is without parents, or a future that takes him beyond the age of 22. Searching for a glimpse of the two Williams in newspapers, the one who married becomes a local hero when he rescues three children from drowning in Filey Bay. The year before the other William dies he falls into bad company and ends up in court. (More about this later.)
In 1841 Frances Morgan is living in King Street, Filey, in a household headed by Timothy HOPPER.
She is possibly the fisherman’s housekeeper. With them are Robert WILLIS (a sailor) and Rachel nee HOTHAM, and their children Sarah and William. The boy’s full name is William Hotham Willis and when he is seven years old his Aunt Nancy (Rachel’s sister) names her last born child William. It is this William who is living with Frances in 1851, a consequence perhaps of his mother’s death in July 1845 when he was two years old.
Clearly, Frances Morgan had a close connection to the Willises but I have yet to confirm a blood relationship with “the nephew” in 1871. Not knowing for certain who the mother of George Francis Willis is doesn’t help.
George is the father of one of the boys who died as a result of the Bridlington rocket explosion (last Thursday’s post). The birth registration suggests his father is not known.
WILLIS, George Francis, Mother’s Maiden Surname: -. GRO Reference: 1856 J Quarter in SCARBOROUGH Volume 09D Page 278.
On Filey Genealogy & Connections George has a wife, but no children or forebears. Mary Helen AINSWORTH is represented on the Shared Tree [MGHS-L96] with her parents, five siblings and her paternal grandmother.
I don’t yet have firm evidence that Sarah Willis was George’s mother. The Hotham sisters both named their firstborn Willis children “Sarah” in 1834. Nancy’s Sarah married John MOORE two years after George’s birth and had at least five children. I have not found Rachel’s Sarah after the 1841 census and think she is more likely to have given birth to George. Or maybe it was someone else altogether.
I have a bit more research to do regarding the bad company William Willis kept so will tell that story tomorrow.