Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 17, 2019
Webpage updated: January 02, 2020



JOSEPH WILLS (1804-1872)

Joseph Wills was christened at Saint Austell, Cornwall, on May 8th 1804, the son of Mr Thomas and Mrs Grace Wills.

In the 1840s he appears to have been a draper and grocer at Saint Breock, Wadebridge, Cornwall, and at the time of the census in 1851 was living in a lodging house in Saint Breock, unmarried, and quoted as a 'Retired Merchant'.

Mr Joseph Wills married Miss Emma Pearce in 1852 and the following year Emma gave birth to Joseph Pearce Budgell Wills, in Plymouth.

When the family arrived in Plymouth Mr Wills appears to have gone into partnership with another grocer by the name of Mr Daniel Millward, whose business was at The Abbey in Finewell Street.  At almost the same time Mr Burnell retired from Messrs Burnell, Brown & Nicholson, leaving Mr Eldred Roberts Brown and Mr Thomas Nicholson to continue that business.  On or about March 5th 1854 Mr Millward died and the liability for debts and receiving monies due was transferred to Messrs Brown, Wills and Nicholson Limited, who took over the Abbey Stores building as their new headquarters.  The partnership between Mr Joseph Wills and Mrs Elizabeth Emma Millward, the widow, was dissolved on July 3rd 1854.

By 1871 the son, Mr Joseph Pearce Budgell Wills, had become a clerk in his father's office.

Mr Joseph Wills died at his home, number 5 Lockyer Street, Plymouth, on March 30th 1872.  He was 68. 

That brought about the end of the Wills association with the business.  His eldest son went into medicine and within just a decade became the head surgeon at Saint Mary's Hospital, Paddington.  From there he moved to Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, in Sussex, where he was a general practitioner for at least the next twenty years.

NB  This Mr Joseph Wills is not be confused with another who also carried on the trade of grocer and tea dealer but from retail premises at 18 George Street, Plymouth.  That gentleman came from Torrington, in north Devon, and was elected Mayor of Plymouth in 1877.