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The Samuel Willis Account

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1760
Location: Jericho (now part of Queens), New Yorkmap
Surnames/tags: Willis Titus Mott
Profile manager: David Willis private message [send private message]
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The Samuel Willis Account is a genealogy written in 1760 by Samuel Willis (1704-1782). He was a paternal grandson of Henry Willis of Long Island (1628-1714) and a maternal grandson of Henry's neighbor Edmund Titus (1630-1715). The first sentence in Samuel's Account is: "A Short account of my Stock of parentage and Kin both paternal and maternal as far as occurs to my Memory according to my Knowledge & information that I have heretofore had."

Samuel's original manuscript has been lost.[1] Fortunately, a copy of it had been written in 1786 by Samuel's granddaughter Abigail Mott (1773–1795), then only thirteen years old.[2] Additions to Abigail's copy were made later by Abigail and others.[3] In 1941, Abigail's copy, including additions, was published.[4]

The accuracy of Samuel's information is for the most part confirmed by other records.[5] He focused almost entirely on his father's and mother's branch of the family. He did not know much about the family of his uncle, John Willis, who had moved to Pennsylvania at a young age. As it happens, at least 95% of today's living descendants of Henry Willis of Long Island are descended from John, not William. Samuel's Account contains only one paragraph about John's family, which is the following:

"John Willis my Fathers Brother the next in order of time was (by the best account (I have) Born in London ye 6th of 1st Mo. [March] 1668 and came over with the Family and after he came to the state of a Man he went into Pennsylvania In Chester County and married the daughter of one Brinton her name was Ester my Grandfather was helpful in Purchaseing some Land there I think the place is called Thornbury not far from Brumidgum [old pronunciation and spelling of “Birmingham”] where he settled he had several Children I think his sons were William John Henry Edward & Benjamin he also had several Daughters Viz: Mary, Ann, Sarah, & Ester if I am rightly informed they most of them Married (Except William who died young) and had Children & by account are chiefly dead several of them moved towards Corestoge [Conestoga]: my Uncle John and his Wife lived to be old as I suppose to Eighty years of age."

Sources

  1. In 1875 the original manuscript was in the possession of Samuel Hicks, who had added a page and a half of information at the end, the last entry dated 1875. Sometime between 1875 and 1942, an abbreviated copy of it was typewritten and donated to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Unfortunately, the typewritten copy omitted much of the information that had been in the original manuscript. In 1942, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints obtained this abbreviated copy and preserved it on its microfilm 000302.
  2. Abigail wrote the following preface: "A Genoligy wrote by my Grandfather Samuel Willis and Copied by me Abigail Mott in the year 1786 with some additions annexed thereto."
  3. Cornell, Thomas C. Adam and Anne Mott: Their Ancestors and Their Descendants (Poughkeepsie, New York, 1890), page 279. He says: "…after Abigail’s death, and the death of her mother [Amy Willis, wife of Stephen Mott] in 1822, the manuscript came into the possession of Abigail’s brother, Henry Mott [1782–1851], who made additions to it, and a few further additions relative to James Mott and his children were made by Richard Mott, of Toledo, in the later years of his life, and this manuscript is now before me, yellow with age, and most of it written more than one hundred years ago."
  4. Darlington, Oscar G., ed. “The Willis-Titus-Mott Genealogy,” The Nassau County Historical Journal, Vol. 4 (1941), pages 26–38.
  5. Willis, George Ingraham. "The English Origins of Henry Willis of Westbury, Long Island," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 118, No. 2, April 1987, pages 65–74. An error in Samuel's otherwise accurate Account is that it says the name of Henry's father is Henry. Henry's grandfather is Henry. His father's name is William.




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