Welcome to The Willis Tree website!  

The aim of the site – now in it’s sixth year online – is to gather together research and remembrances relating to the history of my family.

Much of that history is rooted in the English county of Kent (particularly around the coastal town of Dover), with a couple of strands coming from the West Country county of Devon.

From these villages and towns the family has spread across the globe – so that today there are descendants living in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.

The information, images and reminiscences on this site come from many different sources, including a large number of cousins and fellow amateur genealogist whose own family trees interlink with mine.  As a result we have been able to share data and thus expand our knowledge.

It is hoped that the information on this site will help others discover their ancestral roots and rediscover their living relatives!

The Nicholls family - c1901

The Nicholls family – c1901

View my DAD’s ancestral line - which includes the Alefounder, Benefield, Greenland, Kingsnorth, Mayne, Nicholls, Pyne, Suters and Willis surnames.

His ancestors include tailors, harbour men, stone masons, publicans, farm labourers and soldiers.

For example: my 2xGreat Grandfather Jacob Greenland who accidentally drowned in Dover Harbour in 1883, my Great Grandfather William Nicholls [pictured, left] who was born in 1870 and spent his early years in India with his family where his father was a gunner in the Royal Artillery,  and my Grandad’s cousin, James Willis, who married a Belgian girl and ran a pub in Dover before dying from a liver condition in 1916 aged just 42.


The Gurnsey famiy - c1917

The Gurnsey famiy – c1917

View my MUM’s ancestral line - includes the Calloway, Collard, Gurnsey, Hare, Harvey, Hopper, Huggins and Robinson surnames.

Her ancestors include publicans, domestic servants, soldiers, coffee shop owners and dockyard workers

They include my Great Grandfather Thomas Hopper who died in 1916 from alcohol-related problems aged just 43; his wife, Emily, outlived him by forty-one years, struggling to raise their family of 8 children; then there’s my Great Grandparents George Gurnsey & Amy Huggins [pictured, right], both born in 1884. Married in 1909 they lived well into old age, and were devoted to each other until the end; and their son, Frederick Gurnsey, who tells in his own words how he managed to flee the Japanese attack on Singapore in February 1942.

The ‘Histories’ page provides in-depth accounts of the lives of some of those in the tree.

The Roll of Honour site commemorates those men who sacrificed their lives ‘for King and Country’ during the two World Wars.

You can also view my wife Pat’s family tree on this site: The Lee | Chappell Tree

User Accounts

You are free to view all information on this site. However, in order to view records of individuals who are still living you need to register for a User Account.

A User Account enables you

~ to view details of Living Individuals on the Willis Tree
~ to submit new data about individuals and families
~ to submit photos and documents
~ to download Gedcom files.

User Accounts are available (at the discretion of the site author) to those who either (a) appear in The Willis Tree, (b) have ancestors who appear in The Willis Tree, or (c) are seriously researching their (or someone else’s) family history.

IMPORTANT: Due to security concerns I have had to add a password to the User Registration page.    

If you would like a User Account, please drop me an email to the address below. I’ll send a reply providing a link to the secure User Registration page + the password. The email address is:





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The Roll of Honour - commemorating those in the Willis Tree who sacrificed their lives ‘for King and Country’ during the two World Wars.

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