Willing DNA Project - Goals

* Discover information to help with our family history research

* Discover information which may solve research problems, and/or resolve brick walls

* Discover which family trees are related

* Sort out multiple families found in the same location

* Find any mistaken connections in family trees

* Validate family history research

* Preserve DNA results for future research, to protect against any male line becoming extinct

Most people with the surname Willing, of English descent, trace their ancestry to Devon, where four distinct family trees have been identified. They originate with the following people:

* Leonard Willing (d 1634) who married Ann Lewis in 1607 in Plymstock. This line appears to be the most prolific and is the line to which I belong.

* Michael Willing (d 1650) who first appeared with his wife Elianor in 1602 in Modbury.

* Richard Willing (d 1750) who married Miriam King in 1694 in Loddiswell. Richard was of Holbeton, but their descendants lived in Loddiswell.

* James Willing (1759/60-1829) who married Elizabeth Scobell in 1782 in Aveton Gifford. James was of Stoke Damerel, and their descendants lived there.

The project has already proved that the Plymstock, Modbury and Loddiswell lines are related. There is a line which originates with Thomas Willing (d 1761) who married Jane Cranmer in 1711 in Malborough. They lived in Dodbrooke. Thomas Willing of Dodbrooke was probably born in Brixton in 1688, a son of Nathaniel Willing and his wife Katherine Thomas, and thus belongs to the Plymstock line, but the link depends on circumstantial evidence, and it would be helpful if a descendant of this line could be tested.

Apparently unrelated trees are also found in other parts of England, such as Somerset. The family of Thomas Willing (1731-1821) of Philadelphia originated in North Somerset, and may be traced back to John Willing (d 1597), who lived with his wife Joane at Claverham in the parish of Yatton. There is a line which can be traced back at present to Samuel Willing (d 1735), who lived in Portbury, Somerset with his wife Ann, and had a son Thomas Willing (1733-1791), who married Mary Fowles or Vowles. Their son Thomas Willing (1760-1834) married Rachel Haydon in 1785 at Backwell, and had many descendants there. It seems likely that Samuel (d 1735) was baptised in Wraxall in 1696, a son of Thomas and Mary Willing, and was thus also descended from John Willing (d 1597). DNA tests from descendants of the Philadelphia and Backwell families could confirm this. There is a possibility that the line of James Willing of Stoke Damerel originates here as well.

There is a line which has so far been traced to two brothers who both married on the same day in 1841 at St Pancras, London. James Willing (1810/1-1885) married Emma Skones and William Willing (1815/6-1860) married Esther Daye, but their origins have so far proved elusive. Two descendants of William Willing are included in the project.

There is another line which has so far been traced to Thomas Willing or Willan who married Ann Thompson in 1799 in Sunderland. Thomas is said to have come from Devon, but so far no baptism has been found.

Willings is apparently unrelated to Willing, although the two names are often confused. Most people named Willings are descended from a line which can be traced back to Edward Willings who married Elizabeth Waples in Cambridge in 1635. They lived in Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire.

Another Willings line has been traced to Thomas Willings who married Mary Grice in 1838 in Kirby Grindalythe, East Riding of Yorkshire. Thomas was born in 1809 in Cayton, North Riding of Yorkshire, the son of George and Sarah Windle or Windels. Both Thomas and his sister Sarah were baptised as Windle or Windels and married as Willings, but the reason for the change of name is not yet known.

If your name is Wealleans, Whellens, Whillance, Whillans, Whillas, or Willans you may be interested in the
Whillans DNA Project. Testing has so far shown no link between Willing and Whillans/Weallans/Whellans.

The name Willing also occurs in Germany and the Netherlands, and some German and Dutch people named Willing have migrated to the UK. The Dutch Willings have been traced back to Mozes Barend Wing (d 1776) who first appeared in Amsterdam in 1740 and whose grandchildren changed their surname to Willing in 1812. A descendant of Mozes Barend Wing is included in the project.

One aim of the study has been to create a list of DNA signatures of people named Willing, Willin or Willings. This may be a way of breaking down your genealogical brick wall. By comparing your DNA signature with others whose origin has already been researched, you may be able to identify your family’s origin. I may be able to help you in your research, and/or to put you in touch with documented relatives, particularly if you are English or of English or Dutch descent.

This project is not restricted to those of English descent. Many people named Willing or Willin from the United States or elsewhere are of German descent. I have not had the opportunity to research the German Willings but I am keen to include them in the study. I want to include results from anyone with the name Willing, Willin or Willings, wherever they originate.

This page was last updated on 16 June 2013.