I recently purchased (from NEHGS) The Great Migration Directory: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1640, A Concise Compendium, by Robert Charles Anderson. I have many Great Migration ancestors who arrived between 1620-1635, which I listed here. Many more arrived between 1635 and 1640, and this newly-published book is a great start to finding information about these slightly later arrivals.
Immigrant Michael Willis is a superb example of one of these ancestors. The entry for him tells me that, at this time, his origins are unknown. He arrived in Massachusetts in 1637, living in Dorchester and Boston. There is also a brief list of records where he is found, including Dorchester Church Records and Suffolk County Probate files (see below).
Anderson also references the often-mentioned book for this surname: Willis records, or, Records of the Willis family of Haverhill, Portland, and Boston, 1908, by Pauline Willis. This book can be found online in several locations.
What is not noted is that Michael Willis is also found in Torrey's New England Marriages to 1700 (which can be found with a membership at AmericanAncestors.org) with two wives noted: Joan (married by 1639), and second wife Mildred (married by 1652).
He had four children with his first wife, Joan: Joseph, Experience, Temperence, and Joana, who was born in 1651.
He had five children with his second wife, Mildred: Michael (born November 1652), Adingstil, Abigail, Lydia, and Elizabeth.
The will for immigrant Michael Willis can be found online, dated 21 June 1669.
|From Ancestry.com Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991|
one + twentieth day of June in the yeare of Our Lord
1669 doe make this my last will + Testament -"
He leaves his estate to his wife Mildred who is his executrix. He notes that his sons Experience and "Michaell" shall have "the free use of my shop + tooles with all the utencells thereto belonging." The will goes on to list additional bequests and additional children and at least one grandchild.
He died by October 5, 1669, when he is referred to as "the late Michael Willis."
I descend from the oldest son of his second wife, the Michael named in his will.
Michael Willis, born November 11, 1652, in Boston, as shown in the following record, on a page with a heading of Boston Births from 1650 to 1658.
|From Ancestry.com Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988|
Willis Michael Son of Michael Willis + Mildred his Wife born 11 Nov 1652
He married Elizabeth Lowden (b. 1656) by 1680 (found in Torrey's New England Marriages).
They had nine children, all born in Boston between 1680 and 1697: Joseph, Abigail, Deliverance, Obadiah, Hannah, Mildred, Michael, Ebenezer, and Benjamin.
Author Pauline Willis found reference to the death of Michael Willis in London, England in October 1711, where he apparently had been living for a few years.
I descend from his son, Michael. This is another one of my ancestral lines with several men of the same name in several generations in a row. (See Greeley and May, and later in this line for other examples.)
For several generations (until generation 7 below), this family was in Boston, Massachusetts.
Michael Willis was born July 11, 1694, in Boston (found in the Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records database).
He married Mary Mattox and fathered only one child because of his early death.
He died in London, possibly while there to settle his father's estate in the late 1710s.
Generation 4: Benjamin Willis (1717-1745) married Ann Gammell and had only one child.
Generation 5: Benjamin Willis (1743-1811) married Mary Ball
Generation 6: Benjamin Willis, Jr. (1768-1853) married Elizabeth Sewall May
Generation 7: Elizabeth Sewall Willis (1820-1900) married Thomas Goodwin Wells
Generation 8: Eliza May Wells (1839-1880) married Samuel Sewall Greeley
Generation 9: Samuel Sewall Greeley (1824-1916) married Eliza May Wells
Generation 10: Ethel May Greeley (1875-1931) married Lowell Copeland
Generation 11: Lowell Townsend Copeland (1900-1974) married Helen Lysle Hunter
Generation 12: My mother
Generation 13: Me