The Mysteries are gateways,
thresholds between this world and the Otherworld,
the meeting place of gods and people.
Family history is just a gigantic mystery waiting to be solved and this weeks ancestor has a good few, well hidden, missing pieces to her puzzle. 🧩
Although I know a great deal about her family, her early days are very sketchy to say the least but the mystery only makes her more interesting.
I won’t bore you with my ramblings and I’ll get to the task at hand, telling the life story of my Maternal 4th Great-Grandmother, Eliza Cameron.
Firstly, the rugged west coast of Scotland and the desolate Hebrides islands are the ancestral home of the Cameron family. Their name indicates that the original bearer lived in either Cameron near Edinburgh, Cameron in Lennox, or Cameron in Fife. Thus, the name Camerons of the Lowlands is of territorial origin, from one of the three places so called. The Highland Clan name Cameron may come from the Lowland name, but it is also derived from the Gaelic word cam-shron, which means wry or hook-nosed.
The Cameron Clan was described as ‘Fiercer than fierceness itself’ and it was reputed to be one of the most ancient clans of Scotland. The hereditary name of the chiefs of the Clan is MacDhomnuill Duibh, from their ancestor “Black Donald”.
The first assured chief of the clan was not found until 1411, when Donald Du reigned in that year. Following this date, the clan split into three separate branches, one each at Letterfinlay, Strone and Glen Nevis, with the clan seat at Lochaber.
The surname Cameron was first found in Angus (Gaelic: Aonghas), part of the Tayside region of northeastern Scotland, and present day Council Area of Angus, formerly known as Forfar or Forfarshire, among the hills which surrounded Lochy, Arkaig, and Ely.
The Camerons are said to have traditionally descended from the Kings of Denmark and probably assisted in the restoration of King Fergus II in 404. The first written records of the Cameron Clan date back to the 13th century.
In 1214, Adam de Kamerun was witness to a charter to the monks of Cupar. In 1219, Hugh Cambrun was the sheriff of Forfar and in 1233, Johannes Cambron was a charter witness in Moray. In 1360, the Cameron Clan received the first official grant of the lands of Lochaber and they were later granted Locheil, and Locharkaig, by the Lord of the Isles.
In 1360 they received the first official grant of the lands of Lochaber. They were later granted Locheil, and Locharkaig, by the Lord of the Isles. The Camerons were continually at feud with the Clan Chattan, and notable amongst the battles was that of Charles Hill. Suffering defeat in 1370 they rose to prominence at the Battle of Harlaw, but again were forfeited. King James IV restored their lands in 1493.
Contemporary Notables of the name Cameron (post 1700)
• Peter Jephson Cameron (b. 1947), British mathematician and Rhodes Scholar
• Commander Donald Cameron VC (1916-1961), British soldier awarded the Victoria Cross
• World War 2 Awards.com – CAMERON, Donald. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Donald Cameron.
• David Cameron (b. 1966), British politician
• Ken Cameron (1941-2016), Scottish trade unionist
• John Taylor Cameron (1934-2016), Lord Coulsfield, Scottish jurist who served as Senator of the College of Justice from 1987 to 2002
• David Young Cameron (1865-1945), Scottish artist
• Deborah Cameron (1958-2018), Australian journalist and radio presenter based in Sydney
• Janice Gabrielle “Jan” Cameron (1947-2018), née Murphy, Australian three-time silver medalist competition swimmer and coach
• William M. Cameron, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from New York, 1960
Cameron Coat of Arms Meaning.
The four main devices (symbols) in the Cameron blazon are the bar wavy, savage, border and arm in armour. The two main tinctures (colors) are or and gules.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.
The bar is a thin, horizontal stripe across the centre of the shield, usually in groups of two or three (any more and there would be confusion with barry, a treatment of horizontal lines of alternating colours). It is also possible to place decorative edges along bars, typically these are smaller than those found on the major ordinaries like the fess and pale, but have the same design and share the same meanings. The decorative edge pattern Wavy, is a typical example of this. For obvious reasons it is associated with both water and the sea . Indeed, a roundel with alternating bars of azure and argent (blue and white) is known by the shorthand term fountain, representing water at the bottom of a well. Other colours have also been used and the result can be very pleasing to the eye.
Heraldry is a human art, by and for people and it is not surprising that people themselves are frequently depicted in arms. As well as the nobility themselves, we also see both the mundane, ploughmen, fishermen and reapers; and the exotic in the form of club wielding savagesand the Moorish or Saracen gentleman with his decorative wreathed turban.
The border, (sometimes bordure) is a band running around the edge of the shield, following the edge contours and being differently coloured, possibly holding a series of small charges placed on top of it. According to Wade, the bordure itself has no direct meaning, but is perhaps a container for the meaning of its colour or those additional charges placed upon it.
Now let’s get down to business.
Eliza Cameron was born in 1836 to George Cameron and Mary Cameron nee Falconer, St Ann’s, Middlesex, England.
The census returns give her date and place of birth as,
1861 – 1834, St Ann’s, Middlesex.
1871 – 1836, St Ann’s, Middlesex.
1881 – 1836, City of London.
1891 – 1836, St James, London.
As for the 1841 census, other family history researchers, have Eliza residing in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England with her Father Allen, Mother Mary, two Brothers, Allen and Donald, also 5 Sisters, Jane, Caroline, Mary Ann, Maria and Christina Cameron.
It states Eliza was born in Warwickshire about 1826.
Both the year and birth location are well off, as all others show she was born in parts of London, Middlesex. The year 1826, age 15, was also given as the year of birth for two of her siblings.
Unfortunately I can not 100% confirm this 1841 census is correct or incorrect, but my gut is telling me it most possibly isn’t but you never know, as it’s a well-known fact that people use to give birth locations as where they were residing at the time and years of births were often a guess. We have to remember back in 1841 lots of people were unable to read or write, their education was poor at the best of times.
Others also have a baptism for Eliza.
This shows that she was baptised November 8, 1832, at St. Thomas, Birmingham.
It gives her birth date as, January 21, 1823.
Parents are named as Allen and Mary Cameron. Allen’s occupation is given as a Warehouse man and their abode is given as, Marshall Street.
Two of her Sisters and one of her brothers, Mary Ann, Maria and Allen were also baptised with her.
I can not confirm if these are the correct baptisms or not, but it’s the best match I’ve come across. I’ll leave it up to you so decide!
There doesn’t seem to be any trace of Eliza in the 1851 census, so the first official documentation I have for Eliza, is her marriage certificate.
Eliza married my 4th Great-Grandfather, George John Willats, Son of George John Willats and Charlotte Willats Nee Woollet, on the 13th June 1852, at St John’s, Waterloo, Lambeth, Surrey, England, an Anglican Greek Revival church in South London, built-in 1822–24 to the designs of Francis Octavius Bedford. It is dedicated to St John the Evangelist, and with St Andrew’s, Short Street, forms a united benefice.
Eliza and George were both of full age, single and residing at Ann Street. George was working as a Violin Maker. Eliza’s Father was working as a Tailor and George’s Father, George Willats was working as a Carver.
It wasn’t long until Eliza was in the family way and gave birth to a son, whom they named, William George Willats.
William is my 3rd Great-Grandfather.
William George Willats was born on the 15th July 1853, at Number 90, Dean Street, St. Anne Westminster, Middlesex. His Father George was working as a, Musical Instrument Maker.
Eliza and George, were residing at, Number 18, Marshall Street, Golden Square. Eliza registered William’s birth on the 25th July 1853.
Eliza and George, baptised William George, on December 17, 1853, at St Pancras Church, St Pancras, Middlesex, England, a Greek Revival church in Bloomsbury/St Pancras, London, built-in 1819–22 to the designs of William and Henry William Inwood. It was historically often referred to as, St Pancras New Church, in order to distinguish it from St Pancras Old Church, which stands some way to the north.
They were residing at, Draper’s Place and George was working as a, Musical Instrument Maker.
According to family rumours, George John Willats gave his wife Eliza and their child my 3rd Great-Grandfather to his Brother, Richard Henry Willats.
Richard brought up George John as his own.
George John Willats, disappeared, turning up in New Zealand . He was meant to be involved in the gold rush on South Island, New Zealand. His son William George was meant to visit him in New Zealand, in his early 20’s, I wonder if he knew he was his blood father?
Eliza gave birth to Henry Richard Willats, on the 8th December, 1856, at Number 30, Portland Street, Berwick Street, St James, Westminster, Middlesex, England
Richard, was working as a Tailor, at the time of his son’s birth and he registered Henry’s birth on the 8th January 1856.
At present I can not find a baptism for Henry, but I can tell you a little about him.
Henry married Amelia Etheredge, in the January-March quarter of 1891 in Margate. They had 3 children, Mabel Cameron, Florence Jose and Harry Ashley Willats.
Henry was the manager of the Cliftonville Hotel, Margate, for many years. You can read a little more about him, in the life story of our war hero, Harry Ashley Willats. Only one of Henry and Amelia’s children out lived Henry, but only by 7 months.
Let’s get back to Eliza.
Just a short year later, Eliza gave birth to another baby boy. They named him Francis Montague Allan Willats.
Francis Montague Allan Willats was born 17th September 1857, at Number 30, Golden Square, St James, Westminster, England. Francis’s Father Richard, was working as a, Master Artificial Flower Maker.
Richard registered his birth on the 29th October 1857.
Eliza and Richard baptised Francis on the 21st July 1861, at The Trinity Church, St Marylebone, Middlesex, England.
They were residing at Number 34, Charlotte Street. Richard was working as a, Commercial Traveller.
Francis was known as Frank.
He made a name for himself and rose to the top in the, Standard Life Insurance Company.
Francis married Margaret Jane McLennon, at, St John The Evangelist Church, Finsbury, Middlesex, England, on June 6, 1881. You can read a little about there lives and the tragic deaths of two of their Sons, our war heroes, Alton Henry Willats and Horace Lennon Willats, here, here and here.
Eliza and Richard Henry Willats, welcome their first Daughter into the world on, August 10th, 1859.
They called her Charlotte Ellen Willats.
Charlotte was born at Number 56, Bunton Street, St Pancras, London, Middlesex, England. Richard Henry was working as a Commercial Traveller.
Eliza, registered Charlotte’s birth on, December 13, 1859.
Charlotte was baptised at, St Pancras, Middlesex, England. They were residing at, Mabledon Road and Richard was working as an Engineer.
Charlotte would later marry Pierce W Crosbie, twice in the same year, first in secret than officially in the January quarter of 1879.
Charlotte would go on to make her fortune from Beauty Products.
Eliza lived at, Number 34, Charlotte Street, Portland Place, Marylebone, Middlesex, England on April 7, 1861, when the England and Wales Census was taken, with her Common-law Husband, (Eliza’s Brother-In-law) Richard Henry Willats, their Children Henry, Frank, Charlotte and Eliza’s Mother Mary Lambeson. Eliza was working as an, Artificial Florist, Richard was a, Commercial Traveller and Mary was a, Family Nurse. They also had their Servant Maid, Susan Smith, residing with them.
Later that year, Eliza gave birth to a baby daughter on October 20, 1861 at Number 34, Charlotte Street, Marylebone, Middlesex, England. They named her, Edith Cameron Willats.
Richard Henry Willats, registered her birth on the 25th November 1861.
Richard Henry, was working as a Commercial Traveller.
Edith was known as Ada.
She would later marry, Edward Charlton, on the 20th October 1880 at, St. George, Hanover Square.
Eliza and Richard welcomed a son into the growing family on, July 11, 1863 at Number 37, Charlotte Street, Marylebone, Middlesex, England.
The named him Arthur Charles Willats.
Richard was working as a, Commercial Traveller, and he registered Arthur’s birth on, August 21, 1863.
He would later marry, Ruth Gadsby and Josephine Mary Conley.
Arthur emigrated to America when he was 17 years old and he toured the United States as an actor and settled in Buffalo, New York, where he worked for the Buffalo Evening News. He was a well-known Buffalo lecturer at the, Old Buffalo Cyclorama
and former Shakespearian actor.
He visited England often up to his late 60’s.
Arthur and Edith were baptised on August 9, 1863, at Holy Trinity, Marylebone Road, Marylebone, Westminster, London, England.
They were residing at 37 Charlotte street.
Richard was working as a Traveller.
Eliza gave birth to her 7th child, their 5th Son whom they called Walter James Willats.
He was born on the 30th Jan 1865, at Number 37, Charlotte Street, Marylebone, Middlesex, England.
Richard was working as a Commercial Traveller and registered Walters birth on March 9, 1865.
Eliza and Richard baptised him at, Holy Trinity, Marylebone Road, Marylebone, Westminster, London, England, on February 26, 1856.
They were residing at Number 37, Charlotte street.
Richard was working as a Commercial Traveller.
Walter went on to marry Amelia Ellen High (Millie) and worked on the Stock exchange.
Eliza Cameron finally married the love of her life, her first Husbands Brother, Richard Henry Willats, on May 4, 1865, when she was 29 years old. They married at, St Margaret’s, Westminster, England.
Eliza was listed as a widower, which is rather strange as her first Husband, George John Willats, (Richard Henry Willats brother) was a witness and didn’t die until later that year when he returned to Australia on the 19th June 1865. Richard was a Bachelor. Eliza’s Sister, Mary Cameron, was also a witness.
Eliza and Richard, were residing at Number 10, North Street. Richard was working as a, Commercial Traveller.
Eliza’s Father, Allen Cameron was working as a, Tailor and Richard’s Father, was working as a, Wood Carver.
I have no idea as to how Richard and Eliza were able to marry, as it was strictly forbidden to marry a Brothers Wife, even a deceased Brother. Rumours state that, it’s possible that a sympathetic member of the clergy came to their rescue and had the first marriage annulled. I guess we will never know but it seems that maybe something fishy was going on as, George John Willats, married Sarah Elizabeth Southall Jukes, in Victoria, Australia, in 1856. They went on to have 4 Children.
George John, stayed in Australia, visiting England frequently.
Eliza, gave birth to a baby girl, whom they called, Eliza Mary Willats.
Eliza Mary was born on March 20, 1867, at Number 37, Charlotte Street, Marylebone, Middlesex, England.
Her Father Richard was working as a, Buyer Draper, at the time of her birth.
Eliza registered Eliza’s birth on the 29th April 1867.
Eliza and Richard baptised Eliza at, Holy Trinity, Marylebone Road, Marylebone, Westminster, London, England, on April 21, 1867.
Richards occupation was listed as a, Salesman. They were residing at Number 37, Charlotte Street.
Eliza was known as Polly and married, Benjamin Beach, on the 11th July 1895, at St. John’s, Highbury Park, England. Eliza died in childbirth on the 21st March 1902. She was buried on July 24, 1902 in London, Kent, England.
Eliza was once again in the family way and she gave birth to her 9th child, their, 4th Daughter, on October 4, 1869, at Number 38, Regent Square, Grays In Lane, Pancras, Middlesex, England. Eliza and Richard named her, Lilly Jenny Willats.
Her Father Richard, occupation was listed as a, Traveller (Feathers).
Eliza, registered Lilly’s birth on, January 15, 1870.
Eliza and Richard baptised Lilly, on October 31, 1869 at St Peter’s, Saint Pancras, London, England.
Richards occupation was given as a, Warehouse Man, Privately.
There abode was given as Number 38, Regent Square.
Lilly was also known as Lillian. She married, William Alexander Neilson, on July 15th 1899, at St. John’s Church, Highbury, Islington. They had no Children.
Lilly kept the French Horn Tavern, Lambeth Walk.
Her Husband William, drank himself to death leaving poor Lilly, distribute.
Eliza, her Husband Richard and their Children, Walter, Henry, Eliza, Francis, Lily, Edith, George and Charlotte, we’re residing at, Number 5, Park Road, Islington, Middlesex, England, when the 1871 census was taken on the 2nd April 1871. Richard was working as a Dealer in Feathers, George was a Draper’s Assistant and Henry was a Warehouseman Assistant. The family had two General Servants, Jemina Rouck, who was 53 and Caroline Curry, aged 12.
Eliza’s childbearing days were still in full flow and gave birth to hers and Richards 5th Son, on November 8th, 1871, at Number 5, Park Place, Highbury, Islington, Middlesex Islington, Middlesex, England.
Richard was working as a Commercial Buyer and he registered Edwin’s birth on December 20th 1872.
They baptised Edwin on the 8th December 1871, at the Parish Church of St Mary’s, Islington.
Richards occupation was listed as a, Warehouseman and their abode as, 5 Park Place.
Edwin would later marry Nellie Elizabeth High.
Eliza and Richard welcomed their 5th Daughter into the world on May 5, 1874, at 5 Park Place, Highbury, East Islington, England.
They named her May Claretta Willats. Richards occupation was given as a, Feather Warehouseman and he registered May’s birth on the 16th June 1874.
Eliza and Richard, baptised May, on, August 9, 1874, at Christ Church, Highbury, an Anglican church in Islington, north-west London, situated next to Highbury Fields.
Richard gave his occupation as a Manufacturer and their abode as, Highbury.
May would later marry, George Frederick Champion.
On the 1st September 1875, Eliza gave birth to Percy Sidney Willats, at Number 9, Park Place, Highbury, Islington, Middlesex, England.
Richard occupation was given as a, Fancy Warehouseman and registered Percy’s birth on the 9th October, 1875.
I can’t seem to find a baptism for Percy, which is rather strange considering that all Eliza’s and Richards children apart from Henry Richard Willats, were baptised.
I can tell you that, Percy was the legal heir at the time of his Father, Richard Henry’s death in 1923. Sidney inherited the house, business premises and most of the family papers, which now belong to his Great-Granddaughter Judith.
Percy married Sophie Ann Smart
Percy died on the 25th October 1945 in Edmonton at 70 years old and was buried in one of their family graves in Abney Park Cemetery, plot – section D06, Index 8S06.
After many, many years of bearing children, Eliza gave birth to her 13th Child, on the 27th February 1877 at Number 9, Park Place, Highbury, Islington, Middlesex, England.
She had a baby boy and named him, Frederick Howard Willats.
Richards occupation was given as a, Silk Warehouseman and he registered Frederick’s birth on the 10th March 1877. Once again there doesn’t seem to be a baptism for Frederick.
He would later marry Maud Mary Beach, on September 19th 1903 at St. John’s, Highbury Vale, Islington, Middlesex, England.
Eliza was residing at Number 61, Ambler Road, St Mary’s, Islington, Middlesex, England on the evening of April 3rd 1881, when the census was taken. Her Husband Richard and their Children, Edwin, Arthur, May, Eliza, Sidney, Walter, Lily Howard and Frank were with her and a guest named, Harry Anstey who was a 24-year-old, Wine-seller. Richard was a Publican, Out of B….., Frank was a General Agent, Arthur was a, Clerk Solicitor, and Walter was a Clark on the Stock Exchange.
Eliza, Richard and their Children, May, Walter, Sidney, Mary, Frederick, Lily and Edwin were residing at Number 27, Kings Road, Hornsey, Middlesex, England, on April 5, 1891. Richard was working as a Self Employed Survivor, Walter was a Stockbroker Clarke and Edwin was a Survivors Clarke.
Eliza passed away after suffering for two years, nine months from Disease of Valve of Heart and Dropsy. She was 59 years old.
Her Daughter, Edith Charlton Nee Willats, was present at her death and registered it on the 26th November 1894.
When Eliza died Richard Henry, purchased 2 graves in Abney Park Cemetery, which was then the beautiful garden of a big house turned into a private cemetery. Each grave cost, 3 guineas and took six interments.
The Willats family laid Eliza to rest, in one of those graves at, Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, Middlesex, England, on the 29th November, 1894, in D06, Grave 092431. Her abode was given as, Number 27, Kings Road, Brownswood Park, South Hornsey.
Although Eliza has been at rest for many, many years, her story has her descendants searching high and low for her missing pieces of her puzzle. 🧩 I for one will not rest until I can find out all I can about her, the lady who wed two brothers, who birthed 13 Children, in turn giving life to hundreds if not thousands of descendants.
She definitely has left her mark in our history, and I’m sure as sure can be that Eliza, George and Richard will never be forgotten.
That their mystery of a love story will live on throughout many generations. If that’s not a good job done, I don’t know what is.
Eliza died that day because her body had served its purpose. Her soul had done what it came to do, she learnt what she came to learn, and then she was free to leave, leaving her own legacy.
May she rest peacefully.
Eliza Willats Nee Cameron
1836 – 1894
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Please do not download or use them without my permission.
8 thoughts on “Eliza Cameron – 52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks – Week 47”
Incredible research Georgina,Eliza must have been worn out giving birth to thirteen children,My Dad would have been fascinated to have been able to read about his Ancestors. So well done Thank you .love NaN x x x
Wow how interesting. Amazing research Georgie.
I have been researching George John Willats now for 25 years – his Australian family is a direct line to my husband – his gg grandfather. We actually live near George John’s residence in central Victoria, Australia and researching him, I have found him to be an interesting character.
Would love to touch base with you to discuss further.
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Carolyn, how lovely to hear from you and to find a new family member. I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to email me at
Looking forward to hopefully hear from you.
My name is Timothy Howard Willats, My brother is Michael Cameron Willats, I now live in South Africa, I was born in 1946 my father was Clyde Howard Willats and his father was Frederick Howard Willats, son of Eliza Willats( nee Cameron) !. I have researched my family for years and I am so greatful for this information.
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Hello there Tim
I am in Australia and have been researching George John Willats for many years – he was the first husband of Eliza Cameron. He emigrated to Australia, married and had children. He was on the goldfields in central Victoria and also went to New Zealand and worked on the goldfields there too.
Glad to finally have Willats contacts!
Kind regards, Carolen Young
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Caroline, the clan is slowly but surely growing. 😊
Timothy, how lovely to have another Willats relative. And I’m so pleased I could help with your research. If you would like anymore info or just to stay in touch, please feel free to email me. Unfortunately my email linked to here has been playing up and I haven’t been receiving emails so my personal email address is probably best. email@example.com
Hope to hear from you