John Willis

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John Willis
Person John Willis
First name John
Middle name(s)
Last name Willis
Spouse of
Widow of
Occupation Winecooper
Secondary shorebased occupation
Mariner occupation
Associated with ship(s)
Training Not apprentice
Is apprentice of
Was apprentice of
Had apprentice(s)
Citizen Citizen
Literacy Signature
Has opening text Johannes Willis
Has signoff text John Willis
Signoff image
f.r: Right click on image for full size image in separate window
Language skills English language
Has interpreter
Birth street
Birth parish
Birth town
Birth county
Birth province
Birth country
Res street
Res parish Saint Olave Hart Street
Res town London
Res county
Res province
Res country England
Birth year 1613
Marriage year
Death year 1668
Probate date October 17, 1668
First deposition age 36
Primary sources
Act book start page(s)
Personal answer start page(s)
Allegation start page(s)
Interrogatories page(s)
Deposition start page(s) HCA 13/63 f.298v Annotate
Chancery start page(s)
Letter start page(s)
Miscellaneous start page(s)
Act book date(s)
Personal answer date(s)
Allegation date(s)
Interrogatories date(s)
Deposition date(s) Jul 10 1650
How complete is this biography?
Has infobox completed Yes
Has synthesis completed No
Has HCA evidence completed No
Has source comment completed No
Ship classification
Type of ship Shore based trade
Silver Ship litigation in 1650s
Role in Silver Ship litigation None

Biographical synthesis

John Willis (alt. Johes Willis) (b. ca. 1612-1614; d. ?ca. 1668).[1] Describes himself as "a wine cooper by trade", though described as a "cooper" in the legal preamble in his 1650 Admiralty Court deposition. Described as a "wine cooper" in the legal preamble of his 1667 Admiralty Court deposition.

Resident in the parish of Saint Olave Hart Street in 1650 and through to his death ca. 1668.

There is a 1666 hearth tax record for "John Willes 8 hearths" in Mark Lane East in the parish of Saint Olave Hart Street[2]

There is a post mortem inventory for John Willis of Saint Olave Hart Street dated 1668[3] This appears to match a will proven in October 1668 for a John Willis.[4]

Evidence from High Court of Admiralty

July 1650

Thirty-six year old John Willis deposed on July 10th 1650 in the High Court of Admiralty. He was examined on an allegation in the case of "Garland against Searchfeild".[5]

Willis stated he was "a wine cooper by trade" and was thereby "often imployed both by merchants and masters of shipps for the taking up of such wines and oyles as are brought from fforraigne partes to this port of London in severall ships and vessells". He stated that oils brought from Leghorne or nearby to London in any ship of vessell "will very much leake out and wast in theire passage although the master and companie of the ship they come in bee as carefull as hee possibly can, soe that there is comonlye an allowance for leakeage and wasting thereof after the rate of 20. or sometimes 30. Tonns in a hundred". Willis stated that he had "often seene as much wanting and allowed in each hundred Tonns of oyle". He added that he had been "present at the takeing up of a ninetie five tonns of oyles which were laden abord a ship whereof Mr Isaack Woodgreene was master and brought to this port of London about 3 yeares since of which said 95 tonns of oyles there was leaked and wasted fiftie tonns thereof, albeit the same was well stowed and the casks indifferent good."[6]

July 1667

John Willis appeared again in the High Court of Admiralty in July 1667. In the legal preamble he is described as "Johes Willis" in the parish of Saint Olave Hart Street, "wine cooper", and his age is given as fifty-five.

Willis was examined on a libel and stated that he and a fellow wine cooper named Henry Marsh had viewed and apprised a "parcel of wynes and vinigar laying in a cellar belonging to the Artillery Hoyse upon Horsey-down". There he found 73 tuns of french wine and three tuns, one and a half hogsheads of vinegar. Both the wine and the vingear were "much decayed and damnified". He duely valued the goods.[7]

The London merchant Isaack Stockman added that the wine and vinegar "were carryed on shore by this deponent and stored by his order and stowed in a cellar hyred for that purpose under the Artillery house upon Horsey-downe, and were there viewed and appreized by his contests John Willis and Mr Marsh wynecowpers".[8] Earlier, Stockman refers to John Willia and Henry Marsh as "two substantiall wyne cowpers".[9]

Comment on sources


PROB 4/7902 Willis, John of St. Olave, Hart Street, London 166[?9] 16 Sept. (1668)

PROB 11/328 Hone 113-166 Will of John Willis 17 October 1668
  1. Birth date of 1614 based on HCA deposition in 1650, when aged thirty-six; birth date of 1612 based on HCA deposition in 1667, when aged 55
  2. [ 'Mark Lane East' in 'Hearth Tax: City of London 1666, St Olave Hart Street ', in London Hearth Tax: City of London and Middlesex, 1666 (2011), British History Online, viewed 15/08/2016
  3. PROB 4/7902 Willis, John of St. Olave, Hart Street, London 166[?9 16 Sept. (1668)]
  4. PROB 11/328 Hone 113-166 Will of John Willis 17 October 1668
  5. HCA 13/63 f.298v
  6. HCA 13/63 f.298v; HCA 13/63 f.299r
  7. HCA 13/76, deposition of Johes Willis, of St Olave Hartstreet, London, wine cooper
  8. HCA 13/76 P1100440
  9. HCA 13/76 P1100440