WILLETTS family researchers have traced families of this name in Brunswick County, NC back to New Jersey, prior to that for several generations in Long Island, New York and from there back to England. The earliest ancestor known to my wife was a Rev. Thomas WILLET who was born in 1510 in England. Records reveal that the spelling of this surname remained unchanged for several generations after which records show the surname of a son Richard spelled as WILLETS. Subsequent generations would spell the surname WILLITS. Still later a second "T" would be added and an "I" would be changed to an "E" by some record keepers.

A number of other family researchers have done a commendable job in laying out the many lines of descent of this early name in Colonial America. On this page, are displayed my limited efforts in identifying those WILLETTS members whose descendants came to Brunswick County which at that time was New Hanover, and more particularly to those ancestors of my wife whose maiden name was WILLETTS.

The first of this WILLET/WILLETTS line to be born in America was Thomas WILLITS, born in March 1649/1650 in Long Island, New York. Among his siblings was a Hope WILLITS, born 7 Sept 1652 in Long Island, NY. His line of descent to those who settled and lived in Brunswick County, NC is depicted on this page.

George Franklin & Mary Leighton Gray Willetts

George Franklin & Mary Leighton Gray Willetts
50th Wedding Anniversary - 1944

According to other family researchers, the WILLETTS families of Brunswick County, NC can trace their ancestry back to a Reverend Thomas WILLET, born in 1510 in England. He and his wife Elizabeth had a son, John WILLET, born in 1545. Reverend WILLET died and was buried 16 April 1598 in St. Margaret's Church, Barley, Herts, England.

John WILLET (Thomas1) married in England on 24 Aug 1570 Margaret CHATTERTON and they had a son born in 1571 whom they named John. This John WILLET in 1611 married Elizabeth BUVER. They were the parents of Richard WILLITS (note the name change) who came to America. This Richard is the progenitor of many WILLETTS--and other varied spellings--families in the United States including most, if not all, of those in Brunswick County, NC.

  1. Richard WILLITS (John, Thomas1), b 1618 England, d 24 Mar 1664/1665 Hempstead, Long Island, NY, m 1649 Mary WASHBURNE, b 1629 Bengeworth, Worchester Co., England, d 17 Nov 1713, Jericho, L. I., NY; their issue, all born on Long Island, NY:

    1. Thomas WILLITS (Richard, John, Thomas1), b Mar 1649/1650, d 1710 L. I., NY; m bef 1680 Dinah TOWNSEND. Their issue, all born Long Island, NY: Isaac, Amos, Richard, Thomas, Mary, Elizabeth, Hannah, Sarah and Dinah. All four sons respectivley married four daughters of John HALLOCK of Brookhaven, Long Island, NY.
    2. Hope WILLITS (Richard, John, Thomas1) , b 7 Sep 1652, d 10 Mar 1702/1703 Jerusalem, NY, m Mary LANGDON, d aft 1707. Their issue, all born in NY:

      1. Joseph WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), 13 Oct 1677 Hempstead, L.I., NY; d 1733 Haddonfield, NJ; m 6 Nov 1702 Deborah SEAMAN, b abt 1682, d 1733, dau of Solomon & Elizabeth Linnington SEAMAN. Their issue:

        1. Hope WILLITS (Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), b 18 May 1707, Little Egg Harbor, NJ, d 1766 Brunswick Co., NC; m 20 Jun 1730 Burlington, NJ, Mary Buck, b abt 1712 NJ, d abt 1748 Brunswick Co., NC.

          Hope Willits moved to Brunswick County sometime after 1732 and before Sept. 1754. Records reveal he owned lands on the west side of Lockwoods Folly and it is at this point that records reflect a change in the spelling of the family surname. A deed spells his name both as WILIT and WILLET. A later deed shows his name and that of his son spelled WILLETS.

          Hope and Mary Buck WILLITS/WILLETS had a son, Samuel. It is my belief that they also had a son named Joseph Buck WILLETS. There may have been others.

          1. Samuel WILLETS (Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), b abt 1732 NJ, d 1782 Brunswick Co., NC; m abt 1755 Brunswick Co., NC (most likely) Ann LEONARD, b abt 1735 Cape May Co., NJ, d 1772 Brunswick Co., NC, dau of Henry & Hannah Johnson LEONARD who I believe died in Brunswick Co. The earliest record I have found for this Samuel is dated 3 Oct 1755 for land he acquired along the marsh between Lockwood Folly and the Cape Fear River. Samuel and Ann WILLETS had the following issue:

            1. Henry WILLETTS (Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope Richard, John, Thomas1), b 1757 NJ, d May 1827 Brunswick Co., NC; m 1795 Elizabeth ROBBINS, dau of Arthur & Mary Penelope Sellers ROBBINS. Their issue, all born in Brunswick Co:

              1. Ann WILLETTS,
              2. Lydia WILLETTS,
              3. Penelope Ann WILLETTS (Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), b 12 Feb 1805, d 17 Aug 1875; m 4 Feb 1822 Brunswick Co John Hines SWAIN. Their issue:

                1. Sarah Jane SWAIN, b 22 Jan 1835, d 3 Mar 1895, m 1858 Mark W. (Wicklief?) REYNOLDS, b 19 Apr 1827. Their issue, all born in Brunswick Co, NC:
                  1. Sarah REYNOLDS, b 1859, m James A. WILLETTS
                  2. Isaac REYNOLDS, b abt 1861
                  3. Mark REYNOLDS, b abt 1864
                  4. Jesse Leon REYNOLDS, b 28 Aug 1866, d 29 Nov 1911, m 11 Jan 1888 Lovey J. ROBBINS.
                  5. Elizabeth REYNOLDS, b abt 1870
                  6. Hattridge "Hattie" REYNOLDS, b 13 Sep 1872, d 4 Aug 1912 Southport, Brunswick Co; m Elon Reuben OUTLAW. Their issue, all born Southport, Brunswick Co:
                    1. Ruth OUTLAW, b abt 1894, m Clarence SPENCER
                    2. Whitleaf OUTLAW, abt 1896
                    3. Flossie OUTLAW, b 9 Apr 1899, d 9 Jan 1973, Brunswick Co, m 16 Jun 1916 Adrian L. WILLETTS.
                    4. Sarah Elizabeth OUTLAW, b abt 1906
                    5. Bessie OUTLAW, b abt 1907
                    6. Solomon OUTLAW, b abt 1909
                    7. Theo A. OUTLAW, b abt 1912
                  7. Jane REYNOLDS, b abt 1877
                2. Martha SWAIN, b 9 Mar 1837

              4. William WILLETS (Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), b 1812, m 1833 Charity LNU; their issue, all b Brunswick Co:
                1. William Julius WILLETS, b 1835, d 4 Mar 1865 (captured Battle of Ft. Fisher & died in Elmira, NY, prison camp), m 26 Feb 1857 Sarah BIGGS. Their issue, b Brunswick Co:
                  1. James William WILLETT (Note: Name changed by wife), b 21 Dec 1857, d 4 Oct 1920, bur family farm Brunswick Co; m 30 Nov 1883 Amanda ADKINSON; 5 sons & 6 daus.
                  2. Alonzo J. WILLETS, b Sep 1861; m 1895 Viola S* (LNU); 2 sons & 3 daus.
                2. Louise WILLETS, b 1838,
                3. Jacob L. WILLETS, b 1840,
                4. John Collier WILLETS, b 1842,
                5. George F. WILLETS, b 1843,
                6. Benjamin B. WILLETS, b 1845,
                7. Harriet WILLETS, b 1848,
                8. Pherius WILLETS, b 1850,
                9. James A. WILLETS, b 1852,
                10. Washington WILLETS, b 1855,
              5. William WILLETS (Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1) m 2nd 8 Jan 1858 Zilpha ROBBINS; their issue born in Brunswick Co, NC:

                1. Thomas Whitfield WILLETS, Sr, b 15 Aug 1858, d 29 Apr 1930 Tooms Co, GA; m Delilah LNU, their issue, b Toombs Co, GA:
                  1. Thomas Whifield WILLETS, Jr., 2 Feb 1893, d 3 Mar 1933; m Clyde SIKES; their issue:
                    1. Robert Harrellson WILLETS, b 21 Mar 1921, d 31 Jul 2009 Tulsa, OK; a son

                  2. Mary C. WILLETS, b 1860, d 1947
                  3. William Henry WILLETS, b 1862, d 1936
                  4. Joseph W. WILLETS, b abt 11863
              6. Henry Buck WILLETTS (Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), b 1820, d aft 1872 Brunswick Co; m Elizabeth LNU, b 1820 NC, d 1860-1866 Brunswick Co. Their issue, all born Brunswick Co:

                1. John J. WILLETTS, b 1842
                2. Henry W. WILLETTS, b 1845
                3. Alfred WILLETTS (Henry Buck, Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1) , b 1849, d 1883 Brunswick Co; m 15 Sep 1869 Louisa A. FLOWERS, b 1854, d 1918. I know of only one son. Were there others? Their issue:

                  1. George Franklin WILLETTS (Alfred, Henry Buck, Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), b 6 Apr 1875 Brunswick Co, d 20 Feb 1958, Brunswick Co; m 8 Nov 1894 Shallotte, NC, Mary Leighton GRAY, b 30 Jan 1875, d 15 Jun 1951, dau of Benjamin Franklin & Alice Harris GRAY; Issue of George & Mary, all born in Brunswick County, NC:

                    1. Adrian Leroy WILLETTS, b 7 Oct 1895, d 25 Aug 1973 Brunswick Co; m Flossie OUTLAW, b 9 Apr 1899 Brunswick Co, d 9 Jan 1973 Brunswick Co, dau of Eli Reuben & Hattie Reynolds OUTLAW; Note: See the link at bottom of this page to a PDF file of the ancestry of Adrian & Flossie Willetts. Adrian & Flossie WILLETTS had the following issue, all born in Brunswick County, NC:
                      1. Styron WILLETTS, b 10 May 1918, d 27 Apr 2003 Brunswick Co; m Marion Annette TYREE.
                      2. Evelyn WILLETTS, b 16 Aug 1920, d 1 Jan 1997 Brunswick Co; m William H. SEGRAVES; 3 daus
                      3. Catherine WILLETTS, b 6 Feb 1922, d 20 Sep 1997 Jacksonville, NC; m (private).
                      4. Daughter (private)
                      5. Adrian Larnell WILLETTS, b 3 Oct 1927, d 10 Jun 1980 Whiteville, NC; m (private); their issue 2 daus & 1 son.
                      6. Daughter (private)
                      7. Daughter (private)
                      8. Daughter (private)
                    2. Harry Lee WILLETTS, b Mar 1898, d 1970 Brunswick Co; m Beulah HICKMAN
                    3. Lucien Bennett WILLETTS, b Aug 1900, d 27 Jan 1947 Rome GA; m Frances OWENS; a dau.
                    4. Wardie Helen WILLETTS, b 4 Mar 1901, d 1989 Brunswick Co; m Daniel Leninex POTTER.
                    5. Maulcie Estelle WILLETTS, b 22 Feb 1904, d 8 Sep 1993 Brunswick Co; m John Hildreth MILLS
                    6. Annie Mae WILLETTS, b 26 Feb 1905, d 24 Apr 1974 Marion, PA; m Elmer R. ALBURGER
                    7. Lillian Ivy WILLETTS, b 26 Feb 1908, d 4 Mar 1995 Florida; m Erwin SEABOLD
                    8. Roosevelt WILLETTS, b 1909, d 1969 Brunswick Co.
                    9. Dorothy Gray WILLETTS, b 9 Jan 1914, d 10 Jun 2003 Concord, NC.
                    10. Thelma Irene WILLETTS, b 26 Dec 1912, d Feb 1985 Tacoma, WA; m 1st Solomon M. OUTLAW, s/o Ellin Reuben Outlaw and his 1st wife, Hatridge "Hattie" REYNOLDS. There were two sons of this marriage. Thelma m 2nd Roy E. VARNUM.
                    11. Roger Wallace WILLETTS, b 30 Dec 1916, d 14 Jan 2003 Augusta Co, VA (lived in Williamsburg, VA); m Annabelle BOWMAN; their issue, 3 sons.

                4. William Walker WILLETTS (Henry Buck, Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), b 1855, m Frances Lonny GAINEY, 5 sons & 4 daus, b Brunswick Co.
                5. Mary E. WILLETTS (Henry Buck, Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1) , b 1856
                6. Sarah E. WILLETTS (Henry Buck, Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), b 1858

              7. John H. WILLETTS (Henry, Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), b 1822, m Delilah LNU.

            2. John WILLETTS (Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope Richard, John, Thomas1),
            3. Mary WILLETTS (Samuel, Hope, Joseph, Hope Richard, John, Thomas1),

          2. Joseph Buck WILLETS (Hope, Joseph, Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1) , b abt 1730s NJ, d aft Oct 1767 Brunswick Co, NC, most likely. While I have found few records on Joseph, he bought land in 1767. His middle name and the timing of his land purchase would indicate that he was a brother of Samuel, rather than a son.

      2. Mary WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1),
      3. Elizabeth WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1)
      4. Richard WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), settled in Little Egg Harbor, NJ.
      5. Ester WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1)
      6. Timothy WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1)
      7. Hope WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1)
      8. Phebe WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1)
      9. James WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1), settled in Little Egg Harbor, NJ.
      10. Hannah WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1)
      11. Patience WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1)
      12. Abigail WILLITS (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1)
      13. John, settled in Cape May, NJ. (Hope, Richard, John, Thomas1)

    3. John WILLITS (Richard, John, Thomas1), May 1655
    4. Richard WILLITS (Richard, John, Thomas1) , b Oct 1660, m 1686 Flushing, NY, Abigail BOWNE; a dau Hannah.
      Richard m 2nd in 1690 Abigail POWELL of Huntington, L. I., NY. Their issue, all born in Jericho, L. I., NY:
      1. Abigail
      2. Mary
      3. Martha
      4. Jacob
      5. Phebe
      6. Elizabeth
    5. Mary WILLITS (Richard, John, Thomas1), Feb 1662/1663


Sunset Beach, NC -  July 21, 2012

Click here to download and view a  PDF file of the ancestry of
Adrian & Flossie Outlaw Willetts

Click here to download a free copy of Adobe PDF Reader, if you do not have it.


(Slide Show)



Please be alert to names, dates, marriages and places that I have termed speculative.




This page was last revised on 20 September 2013

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