This coming year sees the 10th anniversary of the Willingale Family Society.

I’ve had a basic Willingale family tree on my personal site since at least 1998, but it was a post in my website guestbook by Keith Willingale on 16 December 2001 and a further post by Graham Richards on 12th January 2002 which formed the catalyst for the creation of the WFS.

The current committee met for the first time, with a few other interested Willingale descendants, in Lopping Hall on 2nd July 2002 and agreed to form the society, and we went on to hold our inaugural AGM at Willingale Village Hall on 7th December 2002.

Our initial printed family tree at the time of the 1st AGM contained just 539 people, although due to the logistics of printing the tree in time for the meeting we actually had just over 1,000 names in the database on the date of the meeting.

Since then we have been continually researching the history of the Willingale family and as I write this we have over 8565 names in the family tree, of which 1271 have the surname Willingale.

Our DNA project has proved that 4 of the 5 main branches of the Willingale family are related, however, our conventional genealogical research seems to show that ALL Willingales are in fact related. To unravel what’s happening in the Charles branch we really need to DNA test 2 or three more Willingale males.

Over the last 10 years we have collected a large archive of Willingale documents, photos and press cuttings, now totalling over 1,400 items, all of which are displayed in the members area of this website. We have also found a lot of other interesting facts such as :

  • That a Willingale served in HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar
  • Obtained an interesting insight into life at the start of the 1900 century through the finding of a large number of postcards & photographs from Thomas Samuel Willingale and his family.
  • Discovered details of the Willingale imprisoned in the Tower of London
  • The history of the Willingales in Maldon – where the majority of our family seem to have originated
  • Information on the Steam Ship Willingale, which was wrecked with the loss of a large number of the crew.
  • Discovered that two people with Willingale as their middle name (but are Willingale descendants) have been honoured by the Queen.
  • The earliest Willingale we have details of is John Wyllyngale, who was a Fellow of Winchester College in 1432
  • And discovered a huge amount about perhaps the most famous Willingale, Thomas, who was instrumental in the saving of Epping Forest.

To celebrate our anniversary we hope to hold another Willingale get together later in the year, if you have any thoughts on this or would like to attend please get in touch with the Committee – we will be holding a committee meeting to discuss an anniversary meeting amongst other things in February.