Mary Willis (née Freeman)

1729 - 1810


Absentee slave-owner on Antigua (where she was baptised 1729, daughter of Robert Freeman (will proved 1739) and Alice Byam (1711-?, daughter of Governor Edward Byam)). Married London merchant Benedict Willis (who d. c. 1774-1777 intestate). She appears to have inherited Freeman's Rest and Buckshorn's from her son Joseph Webb Willis (q.v.), who in turn had probably inherited from his uncle (his mother's brother) (also called Robert Freeman) who d. c. 1750. Robert Freeman jun. had been heir of both his father and Dr Joseph Buckshorn.

  1. Will of Mary Willis [late of Eversley in the county of Hampshire since of Belvedere near the City of Bath but now] of Exmouth in the county of Devon widow [made 29/10/1809] proved 28/06/1810. Under the will she left her estates identified in the will as Freeman's Rest, otherwise Figtree Hill or Freeman's, and Buckshorn both in the division of Falmouth in trust to the use of her daughter Mary Cure widow of George Cure late of Eversley and at her death or marriage then (under separate trustees, Samuel Turner and Samuel Turner jun. of London) to the children of Mary Cure, and then to Lydia Sutton wife of Robert Sutton of Tittleshall near Lexham in Norfolk, late Lydia Byam daughter of Samuel Byam, and then to Robert Freeman Sutton, subject to raising £6000 for Mary Cure and her heirs, and to annuities of £200 p.a. to 'my worthy friend' Lydia Sutton, of £150 p.a. to Ann Wyke widow of Anthony Wyke (with £100 p.a. to their daughter Alicia if living at the death of her mother Ann Wyke), of £300 p.a. to Freeman Willis Elliot [sic], son of Samuel Elliot of Antigua, and of £400 p.a. to Robert Sutton. A note after the will apparently addressed to Lydia Sutton explains that Mary Willis and her daughter Mary Cure had conferred as to which of their friends was most worthy and had children, and as a result had made the addressee the heir to their respective estates: it also requested that Lydia Sutton's son adopted the middle name Freeman.


Vere Langford Oliver History of Antigua Vol. I p. 261.

  1. PROB 11/1512/480. The attestation of June 1810 shows her as dying on or about 14th January last.

Further Information

Maiden Name
Benedict Willis
Benedict; Joseph; Mary

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1750 [SY] - 1810 [EY] → Owner

Relationships (4)

Testator → Legatee
Notes →
Lydia Sutton nee Byam was contingent heir for life of Mary Willis, the daughter of Lydia Sutton nee Byam's great-aunt Alice Freeman nee Byam. ...
Testator → Legatee
Notes →
Rev. Robert Sutton was left an annuity of £400 p.a. as well as contingent interest in the estates and enslaved people of Mary Willis in...
Mother → Son
Notes →
Joseph Webb Willis left his mother Mary Willis the estates later shown in her own...
Mother → Daughter

Addresses (3)

Exmouth, Devon, Devon & Cornwall, England
Eversley, Hampshire, Wessex, England
Belvedere, Lansdown Road, Bath, Somerset, South-west England, England