Elizabeth Willis was 24 when she emigrated to Canterbury with her husband, George (1810-1890), an agriculturist, and son George (infant). According to records, Mrs Willis was living in Rangiora in 1900. Her husband apparently built the old cob house at Riccarton and was the licensee for the Horse and Jockey on Church Corner, so it is probable that the family lived in Riccarton at some stage.
According to a relative, Elizabeth was born in Bicester, Oxfordshire, England, in 1828 and died at Waiau in 1902. She is buried in the family plot at Waddington.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Job (1792-1836), a police inspector, and Anne (nee Allard) Reynolds. Elizabeth was the only survivor of six children. She was a servant at Eddlesbro at Horton, in Buckinghamshire. Elizabeth married George Willis in September 1849 at St Mary The Virgin, Mentmore, Buckinghamshire.
George was born on April 18, 1812, in Whitchurch, Buckingham. George was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (nee Willet) Willis. At the time of their marriage he was reported to be living at the Hamlet of Ledburn at Mentmore, Buckinghamshire and was a labourer.
Elizabeth and George emigrated from Gravesend − according to the family, Elizabeth was aged 22, not 24. The family first went to Akaroa, and then George bought 50 acres at Racecourse Road, Upper Riccarton. George sold 20 acres to his brother, John, and his wife, Charlotte, and helped them build their cob cottage, which is now Chokebore Lodge. Elizabeth and George built and lived in accommodation houses in the Malvern area that were stopping places for Cobb and Co coaches, including Horse and Jockey Inn at Church Corner (destroyed by fire in 1887), Springfield Hotel (known as Willis’s) and Sheffield Hotel.
Elizabeth and George had 10 children − five boys and five girls. When Elizabeth died in 1902, it is believed that she was living with her daughter, Nellie, in North Canterbury. George had died 12 years earlier and is buried in the family plot in Waddington.1
Wanganui Herald, Volume XXIV, Issue 7075, 9 April 1890, Page 3
CHRISTCHURCH. April 9.
George Willis, aged 80, a well-known resident at Sheffield, who arrived in one of the first four ships, dropped dead on Monday while entering his house.