Sunday, 11 March 2012

Back to my Cornish roots!

When I was growing up in northern England, Cornwall was a remote and exotic place, a land of smugglers and pirates, with tales of ships wrecked on its wild and rugged rocky coast. I never dreamt that one day I would actually live in this mystical place and be able to show the ‘birthplace of modern mining’ to minerals engineers from around the world.

I began writing a biography of my early life in 2009. I have always been interested in family history, but know little of how my father's branch of the Wills family found their way to south-east London, so the purpose of the book was to show my descendants how this small branch of the family settled in Cornwall.

My mother was a Butterworth, an ancient Lancastrian name of Anglo Saxon origin. The name Wills, however, is thought to have originated in Cornwall. The name has been traced back to the early 11th century, with the first record being found in Saltash on the border with Devon. From the beginning of the 11th century the Wills's were quite wealthy, historians having found that they owned land and estates around various parts of England during that time.

The branch of the Wills family that ended up in East London, my father's birthplace, was certainly not wealthy, but now my line has come full circle and is back to its Cornish roots. The story of how we got there has just been published, and, apart from my immediate family, might be of interest to those interested in the social history of working class Lancashire in the mid-20th Century, and to those who have lived and worked on the Zambian Copperbelt.


  1. Dear Barry,I read your book with great interest and I suppose this is just Part 1 and Part 2 will follow soon. It is great to know about English life in the 1950 and 60s. Your adventures in Africa are amazing. You witnessed a turbulent time in the Black Continent which is unfortunately still turbulent. Your style forced me to read the book from cover to cover uninterrupted in few hours. I had to look up quite a few words in the dictionary but this may be because I am not famaliar with some English expressions. Thanks for telling this wonderful story and I hope others in our profession would follow suit. Fathi Habashi, Laval University, Quebec City.

    1. Many thanks for your kind comments Fathi, which I truly appreciate. No plans at present for Part 2!!
      Best regards


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