Jane Willis was born circa 1788 in St. Mathews, Moorfields, St George, Bristol, England, United Kingdom to John Willis (c1761-?) and died 27 April 1860 Bristol, England, United Kingdom of unspecified causes. She married John Burgess (c1789-1844) 1821 .

Jane’s Family

The Willis family, having resided in Bristol for centuries are a well established Bristolian family.

Jane’s father, John Willis born about 1761 (the Grandfather of George Burgess) a farmer at `The Batch', Hanham, Bristol was christened in the Mangotsfield parish, Bristol on 12 April 1761 to Sarah & John Willis.

Jane’s husband, John Burgess, was christened on 22 March 1789 in the Mangotsfield parish, Bristol, and when he died he was buried in the Mangotsfield parish, on the 15 September 1844; which is the same parish where he and Jane married sometime before 1821. John was a collier later becoming a labourer; and Jane, his wife, a housekeeper.

Staple Hill Tunnel above which the Family lived for many years.[1]

They had three children and when George Burgess, their youngest, was born the John and Jane and their family were living in a house with 1 acre and 8 parsecs of garden and orchards; which was set behind another house with gardens that was near the edge of the tunnel entrance. In 1844, when the council survey was started the house and grounds were referred to as `Plot 879' and was owned by John Burgess (a collier); John also owned `Plot 859' a house and gardens situated nearby at the end of what is now Acacia Road, by Staple Hill High Street, Bristol.

However, before the survey was completed, John Burgess had died and the name of ownership was transferred to his eldest child ‘Ann Sperring’, under her maiden name (Burgess); even though she'd been married for about five years. At this time (1845) `Plot 879' would have been occupied by Jane Burgess as Housekeeper, mother and widow; her three children including Ann Sperring; son-in-law George Sperring; and grandchildren (children of Ann George Sperring).

Children and Grandchildren

JOHN BURGESS and JANE WILLIS had three children; Ann Burgess, born about 1821; Samuel Willis Burgess, christened 1828; and George Burgess born 1829.

The first child of John Burgess and Jane Willis; Ann Burgess was christened in the Downend/Mangotsfield parish on 13 December 1824 and married George Sperring about 1841; Ann Burgess and George Sperring had four children;

  • Evan Sperring, 1841;
  • Sarah Jane Willis Sperring, was buried on the 16th February 1844 when she was only 16 months,
  • Sarah Sperring 1845, and
  • Emily Sperring in 1846 (who George Sperring may never have seen).

In about 1845 George Sperring persuaded his brother-in-law, George Burgess (the third child of John Burgess and Jane Willis), who was about 16 at the time, to go with him to Baltimore, Maryland, America to continue their apprenticeship in stone cutting.

In 1846 while George Sperring and George Burgess were in America George Sperring’s wife (Ann Burgess) gave birth to Emily Sperring; George Sperring’s daughter, who he may never have seen as he died while in America, and was buried in Baltimore Cemetery, in the State of Maryland.

The Second child of John Burgess and Jane Willis; Samuel Willis Burgess was christened on 20th January 1828 in the Downend/Mangotsfield parish. He was a carpenter for his short life; being buried on 22nd July 1851, in the parish of his birth.

The third child of John Burgess and Jane Willis was George Burgess (1829-1905) who returned from America for the third and last time in 1857 to visit his mother (Jane Willis), vowing never to return to America until after her death. He never did return, and ever regretted it. George Burgess nevertheless made a name for himself as practicing Phrenologist, for forty years, in the shopping Arcades in Bristol.


Offspring of Jane Willis and John Burgess (c1789-1844)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Ann Burgess (c1821-?) 1821 Staple Hill, Bristol, England, United Kingdom George Sperring (?-c1855)
Samual Willis Burgess (c1828-1851)
George Burgess (1829-1905) 12 June 1829 Staple Hill, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom 11 December 1905 St.Mathews Moorfields, St George, Bristol, England, United Kingdom Mary Crouch (1836-1862) Mary Crouch (1836-1862) Eliza Knight (1844-1878)


Reference The Diary of George Burgess (1829-1905)

  1. ^ Drawing of Staple Hill Railway Tunnel Commissioned for Arthur Russ by Tom Maloney©

External links

Footnotes (including sources)