William Jarvis Willis

Koreromawhia, Rangitikei Here
His farm Koreromawhia in New Zealand, ca. 1864.

Born in Rayne, Essex, in 1839, son of the Rev. Thomas Willis, and died at his house Woodendean, Greatford, New Zealand, 1 March 1884. Buried at Marton, New Zealand. Educated at Radley College 1848-1852 and then Eton, and then commissioned as an ensign in the 14th regiment of Foot on 23 April 1858. He went with them to New Zealand, where he resigned as a lieutenant in 1865 (though he continued on as a Major in the Rangitikei Militia). Appointed a magistrate and J.P. for Wairarapa in 1863, before purchasing land near Marton (which he named Woodendean) in 1864. Elected M.P. for Rangitikei in 1879, but resigned in April 1880.

Major William J. Willis, who represented Rangitikei in the House of Representatives in 1880, was born in 1840 in Sussex, England. He was educated at Eton, and joined the army as an ensign. In 1862 he came to New Zealand with his regiment, and shortly afterwards was appointed Magistrate in the Wairarapa. Two years after his arrival he sold out, and purchased an estate near Marton, now known as Woodendean, which is still in the possession of his widow. Major Willis was at one time Resident Magistrate for Marton, his district extending to Otaki and Awakino. He died in 1884, leaving a widow, three sons, and seven daughters. The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Married firstly on 18 June 1864 in New Zealand to Amelia Riddiford. She was born 25 February 1844, daughter of Daniel Riddiford, and died 26 December 1869.

WILLIS-RIDDIFORD. —On June 18, at St. James's Church, Hutt, by the Right Rev. J. E. Herring, William J. Willis, Esq., R.M., Lieut. 2nd Battalion H.M. 14th Regiment, to Amelia, third daughter of D. Riddiford, Esq., of Woburn, Hutt. No cards. New Zealand Herald, 7 July 1864, Page 9

DEATH. Willis — On the 26th inst., at Woburn, Lower Hutt, the residence of her father, D. Riddiford, Esq., Amelia, wife of W. J. Willis, Esq., late Lieutenant 2nd Bat. 14 Regiment, aged 25 years. Wairarapa Standard, 29 December 1869, p2

Issue 4 daughters:

  1. Augusta Harriet Willis, born 29 March 1865 and died 18 July 1942. Married at Greatford on 29 July 1890 to Basil Newton Lane.

    He was born 28 October 1864 at Rugby, Warwickshire, son of John Lane J.P., and was in England in 1871 and 1881. He seems to have come to NZ on the Ionic, leaving Plymouth on 22 September 1883, and died 3 October 1906, leaving £14382.

    Lane— Willis.— On the 29th inst., at St. Martin's, Greatford, by the Rev. A. Towgood, Basil Newton, sixth son of the late John Lane, of Gatcombe Park, Isle of Wight, to Augusta Harriat, eldest daughter of the late Major Willis, of Woodendean. Feilding Star, 31 July 1890, p2

    Mr. and Mrs. Basil N. Lane (Rangitikei) and their daughter arrived in England on Wednesday, and are at present staying with Mr. Lane's mother at the Manor House, Riverhead, Sevenoaks, Kent. They intend shortly to travel about England, visiting other relatives and friends. New Zealand Herald, 1 June 1903, p6

  2. Mabel Willis, born 3 August 1866 and died 8 May 1942. Married Alfred Richardson Cox in 1893. He was born 14 March 1865 at Stayley in England, and drowned in Rangitawa Creek 29 September 1900.

    Mr Alfred Cox, who was drowned in the Rangiwhaia stream, in the Rangitikei, last week, was at one time well known all up the coast, from Foxton to New Plymouth, as a very daring amateur steeplechase rider, as he has shown often in the Old Country before he came out to the Rangitikei. Although afflicted with deafness, he was a wonderfully quickwitted young fellow, with a good stock of English turf stories. He was a relation of the Hon. F. Arkwright, M.L.C., and married a daughter of the late Major Willis, of Rangitikei. Poor Cox was always most unlucky in the way of accidents. He used to say that he had broken both arms, one leg, put his collar-bone out, had fallen down a ship's hold, and didn't know what the next accident would be. Alas, he met the New Zealand death. At polo, hunting, and coursing functions, he was a well-known figure. Free Lance (New Zealand), 13 October 1900, p3

  3. Amelia Margaret (Meta) Willis, born 5 September 1867 and died 25 May 1946. Buried at Marton

    Married at St Martin's, Greatford, New Zealand in February 1893 to Ernest (Ernle) James Wilde. He was born 8 July 1865 at Egham in Surrey, son of the Rev Richard Wilde, educated at Haileybury but not at Clare College, Cambridge, and died 13 September 1943 at Porirua in New Zealand. Issue 3 sons and 3 daughters.

    MARRIAGE AT GREATFORD. At St. Martin's Church, Greatford, the other day, a marriage which excited a considerable amount of interest was celebrated, the contracting parties being Mr. Ernle James Wilde, of Paroekaretu, and Miss Amelia Margaret Willis, third daughter of the late Major Willis, of Woodendean. The popularity of the two young people was evidenced by the large number of friends from Hawera, Palmerston, Woodville, and other out districts, as well as local residents, the church being quite full. Skillful hands had been busy in the decoration of the interior of the building, the most attention having been given to the adornment of the chancel, which was bright with flowers and toi loi. On the appearance of the bride, as she was escorted up the aisle to the altar by Mr. F. Riddiford, of Hawera, the congregation commenced to sing the matrimonial hymn. She looked very pretty in her elegant bridal, costume of cream crepon, trimmed with pure lace, and her picture hat was tastefully trimmed with white ostrich feathers. The Misses Willis, who were the bridesmaids, wore white embroidered dresses, with buttercup colored sashes, and white hats. Mr. Norman Gorton was best man, and Mrs. Willis gave the bride away. The Rv. Alan S. Innes-Jones was the officiating clergyman. On leaving the church the happy couple had to submit to the time honored shower of rice and flowers, and the bridal party then proceeded to Woodendean where a large party of guests partook of tea on the tennis lawn. A great number of handsome presents, of a most varied kind were made to the bride, as well as cheques for considerable amounts from friends who left to her own choice the mementoes of the occasion which she may deem most suitable. Mr. and Mrs. Wilde sail for England, on their wedding trip, by the Himalaya, which leaves Sydney about a month hence, returning again by the end of the year. Congratulations and wishes for pleasant voyage, and a long and happy life follow them.— Rangitikei Advocate. Hawera & Normanby Star, 18 February 1893, p2

  4. Katherine Strother Willis, born 21 November 1868, and died 7 February 1949. Married on 25 April 1894 to Norman Bannantyne St George Gorton, an auctioneer:

    Wedding at Greatford. On Wednesday last a fashionable wedding was celebrated at Greatford, the parties being Mr Norman Bannantyne St. George Gorton eldest son of Colonel Gorton, of Rangitikei, Bulls, and Miss Catherine Struther Willis, fourth daughter of the late Major Willis, of Woodendean, Greatford. The church had been prettily decorated with greenery and white chrysanthemums. At about 2.30 o'clock the bride, escorted by her mother and attended by the bridesmaids, arrived at the church, where the ceremony was gone through. The Rev Innes Jones of Feilding, was the officiating clergyman. Mr R. Aldworth was the bridegroom's attendant There were three bridesmaids — Miss Cooper (Wellington), who was dressed in a white liberty silk costume, with salmon pink trimmings, and a large brown hat, and the Misses Dorothy and Mary Willis, who were dressed alike in cream chiffon and salmon pink trimmings, with black hats. Besides these there were two sweet little children as pages — Miss Olga Levett, and Master Don Riddiford. The little girl was dressed in a white satin robe with satin shoes and hood, while Master Don was attired in a knicker suit of black velvet with salmon pink trimmings, black hat and white feather. The bride looked exceptionally sweet in a beautiful dress of white satin with a train, ornamented with elegant pearl trimmings. Over this she wore the usual veil and wreath, and carried a bouquet of flowers. Mrs Willis, who give the bride away, wore a stylish dress of black figured satin with jet and heliotrope trimmings and bonnet to match, Mrs Gorton, black, striped satin with pale pink and lace trimmings to match. Amongst those present were Colonel and Mrs Gorton, Captain Hewitt, R.N., and Mrs Hewitt, Mr and Mrs D. Riddiford, Mr and Mrs E. H. Levett, Mr and Mrs J. G. Wilson, Mrs Innes Jones, Mr and Mrs Wylde, Dr and Mrs Sketman, Mr and Mrs Levett (Kiwitea), Mr and Mrs Johnston, Mr and Mrs Aldsworte, Misses Cooper, and N. Wilson, Messrs A. Fitzherbert A. Ross, Lance, and others. After the ceremony the whole party retired to the house at Woodendean, where afternoon tea was dispensed. The presents were numerous, costly and elegant, all testifying to the popular [sic] of the young couple. We join with other well wishers in wishing the happy couple a long life of prosperity and wedded bliss. — Mercury. Feilding Star, 27 April 1894, p2

    He was born 29 September 1866 in Whanganui, and died 30 September 1926 at Feilding, New Zealand. Issue two daughters and one son.

Married secondly in Victoria, Australia, 10 June 1874 to Eliza Riddiford, his first wife's sister. Apparently they had to go to Australia because you weren't allowed to marry your wife's sister in NZ. She died 1 February 1934, and is buried at Marton.

WILLIS-RIDDIFORD-On the 10th instant, at St. Paul's Church, Clunes, Victoria, by the Rev. J. E. Herring, formerly Incumbent of St. James's Church, Hutt, New Zealand, Major Willis, R.M., to Eliza, daughter of D. Riddiford, Esq., Woburn, Hutt, New Zealand. Wellington Independent, 29 June 1874, p2

MRS. E. WILLIS. The death has just occurred of a very well-known lady, Mrs. Eliza Willis, who lived in the Rangitikei district for a great many years. Mrs. Willis was in her 98th [sic] year, and was one of the elder daughters of the late Mr. Daniel Riddiford, a pioneer resident who came to New Zealand in 1840. He took up the tract of country in the Orongorongos, and lived there for many years, and it is still the property of the family. Later, they came round to the Lower Hutt, and built a house called Woburn, close to the present home of Mr. Vivian Riddiford. Mrs. Willis was a sister of the late Mr. E. J. Riddiford. In tho early 70's she went to Melbourne, and there met and married Major William Jarvis Willis, who came out with the British forces during the Maori wars. He bought a property at Greatford, Rangitikei, called Woodendean, which was sold after his death some 40 years ago, part being bought by a son of Mrs. Willis, and part by the late Major W. F. G. Levin. Mrs. Willis lived there till three years ago when she built a home at Marton.

Mrs. Willis had a very delightful personality, and had a large circle of friends who will miss her greatly. She was keenly interested in gardening, and a well-known and popular rose was named after her. She was of a most kindly disposition and generously supported charities. There are three surviving sons — Dr. W. F. Willis, now practising in London, and Messrs. D. J. and T. B. Willis, who are farming on the Woodendean property. Of the daughters one is Miss Letitia Mary Willis. Another daughter Mrs Duncan Menzies, died some years ago. A sister is Mrs. Hewitt, of Palmerston North. There are 17 grandchildren. Evening Post (New Zealand), 3 February 1934, p8

Issue three daughters and three sons:

  1. Dr William Frederick Willis. Born 27 February 1875 in New Zealand, and died 2 March 1943 in London. MRCS and FRCP 1899, and enumerated in the 1901 census in London, but registered as a Doctor in NZ 1904-1920, though 'practising in London' in his Mother's obituary of 1934. Registered at 28 Doneraile Street, Fulham in 1935. A member of the NZ medical corps in WWI.

    Married on 5 October 1904 to Ellen Mary Read. Issue one son.

    Willis— Read.— On October 6th, 1904, at St. Martin's, Greatford, by the Ven, Archdeacon Towgood, assisted by tbe Revd. C. H Isaacson, William Frederick, eldest son of the late Major Willis, of Woodendean, Greatford, to Ellen Mary, youngest daughter of the [sic] John Read, Esq., of Teignmouth Devonshire. Feilding Star, 10 October 1904, p2

  2. Daniel Jarvis Willis.

  3. Genevra Willis, born in 1876 and died 14 January 1879. Buried at St Stephen's Cemetery, Marton.

  4. Thomas Riddiford Willis.

  5. Dorothy Willis. Born 12 February 1880, and died 25 September 1921. Married on 9 April 1907 to Duncan Robertson Menzies, an accountant. Issue four daughters and one son.

    MENZIES— WILLIS. A very pretty wedding, which attracted a good deal of interest, took place at St. Martin's, Greatford, on Tuesday afternoon, between Mr Duncan Robertson Menzies and Miss Dorothy Willis, both of whom are connected with the old families whose names have been known and respected in both public and private circles since the earliest days of the colony. Dr. Featherston and Dr. Menzies on the one side, and Mr Riddiford and Major Willis on the other, are names which will always stand our clearly on the page of New Zealand's history, and Tuesday's wedding has connected friendships formed long years ago between the grandparents and carried down through each succeeding generation. The Church was prettily decorated, and long before the wedding hour, was crowded with gaily dressed guests. The bridegroom was attended by his cousin, Mr Frank Newman. The bride, who looked very sweet, was dressed in creamy Lousine silk, the bodice richly trimmed with point lace and silver braiding, the same lace appearing in medallions on the skirt. She wore a wreath of orange blossom and white heather (the heather being symbolic of the Menzies' clan), and a tulle veil draped becomingly over her face. She was given away by her brother, Mr T. R. Willis, and was followed by four bridesmaids — Miss Mary Willis, gowned in a lovely dress of white taffeta, figured with heliotrope flowers and trimmed with velvet of same shade, white felt hat wreathed with white, heliotrope and bronze flowers. She wore an amethyst pendant. The three little bridesmaids, Misses Margaret Cox and Norah Gorton (nieces of the bride) and Laetitia Watson (niece of the bridegroom), wore pretty white muslin frocks much tucked and inserted, and white felt hats, they also wore filigree butterfly brooches, the gift of the bridegroom. They carried baskets of wedding favours which they distributed to the guests. The bridegroom's gift to the bride was a pearl brooch. The wedding party left the Church to the strains of the Wedding March and the pealing of the bell, and adjourned to Woodendean for the customary refreshments, after which the happy couple left amidst showers of flower-petals, not unmixed with rice, en route to Wanganui. There was a pretty display of presents which testified to the goodwill and friendship felt towards the young couple. The bride's mother was much admired in a handsome dress of black silk, and a dainty pink bonnet. The bridegroom's mother looked very handsome in a rich black velvet dress trimmed with Maltese lace, and a heliotrope bonnet. Times. Feilding Star, 12 April 1907, p4

    He was born 29 December 1876, son of James Alexander Robertson Menzies, and died 31 January 1945 at Wellington. After his first wife's death he married secondly in 1927 to Lucy Dorothy Brandon.

  6. Laetitia Mary Willis, born 1881 and died 30 January 1950. Buried at Marton.