• 552 members

About us

To see results, please click on the Results tab above.

October 23, 2023

The Willis DNA Project now has 542 members.

214 members have a patrilineal ancestor whose surname is Willis. Biographies of the earliest known Willis-surname ancestors of those members are shown in the Results section, grouped by lineage. 

January 18, 2021

The Willis DNA Project now has 500 members.

December 31, 2020

Today our website address changed. Our website is now accessed through www.FamilyTreeDNA.com by selecting the Willis Group project.


May 6, 2018

The Willis DNA Project now has 400 members.

April 3, 2016

Today our 300th member joined the project.


June 24, 2014

The Maryland and Virginia Group has been split into two groups: (1) the Old Rappahannock, Virginia Group, and (2) the Maryland Group. The members of these two groups share a common patrilineal Willis-surname ancestor, but he probably will never be identified because he lived too far back in time.


July 11, 2013

Today our 200th member joined the project.


September 3, 2012

Y-DNA test results were reported for two descendants of Stephen Willis, born in 1703 in King William County, Virginia. The results connect Stephen Willis to America's largest group of related Willises, which in this project is called the "Southern Group." The results are a step forward in understanding the early ancestry of this group.


June 4, 2010

The project now has 113 members.

Y-DNA testing has answered a question for Willises descended from Henry Willis of Long Island (1628 – 1714). For the first time, test results were reported for a descendant of Henry's eldest son, William Willis of Long Island (1663 –1736). This descendant’s Y-DNA matches the Y-DNA of descendants of Henry’s youngest son, John Willis (1669 – 1745). John Willis had moved to Pennsylvania in 1692, and in the mid-1700s his grandsons were living in western Virginia and Pennsylvania. Thanks to DNA testing, any question about the link between John and Henry has been removed.


February 1, 2007

Y-DNA testing is helping descendants of early Willis-surname settlers in Maryland confirm their ancestry:

"My DNA tests have helped confirm Jarvis Willis born 1752 in Maryland as the father of my William Willis. Jarvis Willis lived for some time in Franklin County, Tennessee which is adjoining Warren County, Tennessee.  Also, I was able to establish that John Willis was a son of Jarvis Willis and he is the ancestor of William Marion Willis .... William Marion Willis' father was James Willis, a son of John Willis ... I have been studying these families since the 1970's and DNA testing has broken down my brick walls!"

DNA testing shows that the Y-DNA of Willis-surname descendants of Jarvis Willis are an almost exact match with the Y-DNA of a descendant of John Willis of Dorchester County, Maryland, who was born about 1695. 


January 6, 2007

We now have 55 members. About 60% of our members have a Y-DNA match with at least one other member in the project.

We recently confirmed the Y-DNA of a Willis family who lived in Gloucester County, Virginia and Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County, Virginia during the 17th, 18th, and19th centuries.  Y-DNA testing has shown a close match between two project members who are both descendants of Lewis Willis (born in Fredericksburg on November 11, 1734).  Lewis Willis is a son of Col. Henry Willis of Gloucester County, Virginia and his third wife Mildred Washington (aunt of General Washington). One of these two project members is descended from Lewis Willis' son William Champe Willis (born about 1770), the sixth child of Lewis Willis and his first wife Mary Champe, through William's son John Whitaker Willis or brother who settled in Mississippi.  The close relationship of this project member to John Whitaker Willis had been suspected, but not confirmed. Recently we received the DNA test results for a second project member, who is descended from Byrd Charles Willis (born August 29, 1781), son of Lewis Willis and his second wife Ann Carter. The DNA test results of this member match the Y-DNA results of the John Whitaker Willis descendant.


May 29, 2006

We now have 43 members in our project.

Family Tree DNA recently confirmed that one of our members (a descendant of William Willis of Alabama, born 1820) is a direct patrilineal descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages, who established a dynasty of chieftains that dominated Ireland for six centuries.


February 18, 2006

The project now has 38 members and is growing at a pace of about one new member per month. We recently had a member join from Canberra, Australia. His ancestor is William Willis, born in 1674 in the town of Litton, in Cambridgeshire, England.

We now have seven groups of two or more related Willises. The Y-DNA test results of about 60% of our members match the results of at least one other member. Some of the remaining 40% will find a match in the future as the project continues to grow.


July 1, 2004 

Website completed.


June 8, 2004

We now have 15 members and 13 results reported.  Results were reported for member 10590, whose ancestor is believed to be John Willis, born about 1695, Dorchester County, Maryland.


January 13, 2004 

So far, we have the following groups in our project:

One descendant of Abner Willis, b. before 1755, Pennsylvania. 

One descendant of Abner Willis, b. roughly 1770, Washington County, Virginia. 

One descendant of Andrew Willis, b. 1682-85, Dorchester County, Maryland.

Five descendants of Henry Willis, b. 1628 Wiltshire, England, a Quaker who emigrated to Long Island, New York in 1674. 

One descendant of James Willis, b. 179X, North Carolina.

Two descendants of Unknown Willis.


July 21, 2003

Y-DNA results were posted for a descendant of Henry Willis of Rich Creek, Giles County, Virginia, among the most prolific of the known Willis patriarchs. He was born in 1758 in York County, Pennsylvania, raised in Franklin County, Virginia, and settled in Rich Creek, which is at the border of Monroe County and what is now Giles County, Virginia. All seven of his sons moved to southern Ohio in the early 1800s. Twenty-six of his descendants served on the Union side in the Civil War. Y-DNA test results of his descendants show that he is a descendant of Henry Willis of Long Island. 


April 18, 2003

Birthdate of the Willis project at Family Tree DNA. 


April 14, 2003  

Family Tree DNA reported results for the first two Willises tested, both believed to be descendants of Henry Willis of Long Island (1628-1714). Y-DNA results confirmed paper evidence that John Willis, who died in 1800 in Franklin County, Virginia, was a brother of Isaiah Willis of Franklin County, who was born about 1742.