Dr Robert Darling Willis

Born at Dunston 8 May 1760, fifth and final son of Francis Willis and his wife Mary. Educated at Westminster School and Caius College, Cambridge, from where he graduated on 25 June 1783 as a Bachelor of Physic and delivered the Thruston Speech in 1785. M.D. 7 July 1789; MRCP 30 September 1797; FRCP 1 October 1798. A censor of the Royal College of Physicians in 1800 and 1809, and a Junior Commissioner for Madhouses in 1805 and 1806. Fellow at Caius from 1790. Died 23 May 1821 at his house at 3 Tenterden Street, London, and is buried at Greatford. Author of Philosophical sketches of the principles of society and government (1795), a somewhat conservative response to Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man.

He helped his brother John attend the King in 1801, and was in sole charge from 1810, and is the Willis mentioned in:

The King employs three doctors daily,
Willis, Heberden, and Baillie;
All exceedingly clever men,
Baillie, Willis, Heberden;
But doubtful which most sure to kill is,
Baillie, Heberden, or Willis.

He never married (as a Cambridge Fellow he was not allowed to), but was nonetheless the father of two children with a Lady known to posterity as Mary Willis. She died 1850, and was buried in Highgate Cemetery on October 17th. She seems to have resided at 49 Upper Norton Street from at least 1818 (when her house was first insured) until her death. Her will.

Leasehold Estates, Norton-street, Upper Charlton-street, and Foley place, Marylebone at Ground Rents. – By Mr. EDWARD FOSTER, on of the Premises, No. 49, Upper Norton-street, on FRIDAY, June 20, 1817, at Twelve o'Clock, by direction of the Executors and Executrix of the late Mrs. Martha Hobcraft, deceased,

A Valuable and very respectable DWELLING HOUSE, being No. 49, Upper Norton-street, near the Regent's Park, late the residence of Mrs. Hobcraft, held for near 60 years, at a trifling ground rent. To capital Dwelling-Houses, spell Nos. 22 and twenty-four, Upper Charlton-street, Fitzroy-square, held for upwards of 70 years each, at low ground-rents. A substantial Dwelling House in Foley-place, opposite Portland Chapel, held for near 40 years, at a low ground-rent. On the same day will be sold, all the excellent Household Furniture, Plate, Linen, China, and Effects of the late Mrs. Hobcraft.

The premise sees may be viewed till the time of sale, and the furniture one, when particulars and catalogues may be had on the premises; and at Mr. Edward Foster's Office,13, Greek-Street, Soho-square. Morning Post, Monday 16 June 1817, p4.

Issue one son and one daughter. They seem to have lived with their Mother at 17 Buckingham Street, London. None of them were left anything in his will.

  1. Professor Robert Willis.

  2. Mary Willis, born 24 March 1802, and baptised at St Mary Marylebone in 1802. Living at Trumpington Street in 1861, and at Scroope Terrace, Trumpington Street in 1871, and at Scroope House in 1881. Died 8 November 1887 at Cambridge.

    To Miss Mary Willis, 49, upper Norton Street, for a composition of flowers, the large Silver medal. Transactions of the Society Instituted at London for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, Volume 41 (1823)

    She married on 30 July 1827 to, Rev William Clark M.D., F.R.S. He was born at Newcastle 5 April 1788 and died 15 September 1869, and was Professor of Anatomy at Cambridge 1817-1865. Fellow of Trinity 1809. Ordained Deacon 14 March 1818 and Priest 17 May 1818, and then Curate of Arrington, Cambridgeshire, 22 January 1824; Vicar of Wymeswold, Leicestershire, 22 February 1825 - 22 March 1826; Rector of Guiseley in Yorkshire 17 October 1828 (all college livings).

    MARRIAGES. July 30, at Mary-la-bonne Church, the Rev. William Clark, late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, to Mary, daughter of the late Dr. Robert Darling Willis. London Standard, Tuesday 31 July 1827, p1

    CLARK - At Scroope House, Cambridge, on Tuesday November 8, Mary Clark, widow of the Rev. William Clark M.D., F.R.S., formerly Professor of Anatomy in the University of Cambridge, aged 85. Cambridge Independent Press, Saturday 12 November 1887, p8