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Fred Wills

Also Known As: "Frederick"
Birthdate: (72)
Birthplace: Rainham, Kent, England
Death: January 22, 1956 (72)
Cook Public Hospital, Gisborne, New Zealand (Ventrilcular Fibrillation - 2 Weeks, Congestive Heart Failure - 6 Months, Arteriosclerosis)
Place of Burial: Taruheru, Gisborne, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Wills and Jane Wills
Husband of Ellen Elizabeth Wills and Ellen Daisy Wills
Father of <private> Wills; Frank Thomas Wills; Freda Mary Peach; Arthur Leonard Wills; Robert Leslie Wills and 7 others
Brother of James Robert Wills; Job Wills; Robert Wills; Mary Ann Deed; Henry Wills and 10 others

Occupation: Brickmaker, Farmer, Gisborne Freezing Works, General Labourer, Vice President of the Gisborne General Labourers Union
Managed by: Jason Scott Wills
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Fred Wills

Memories of Fred Wills by his son Michael:

My father Fred was 59 when I was born in 1942. He married my mother Ellen Daisy when I was nearly 12 on the 24.8.1954. I only found this out when our daughter Karyn tracked down the wedding certificate to get patriality when she went to England on her OE in the 1990’s.

Ellen Daisy went to work for Fred as a housekeeper, with Tui who would have been very young, when Ellen Elizabeth died. Bob was only 4 years and Charlie 22 months old. He had a small Dairy farm in Te Karaka. I think we moved to Gisborne when I was about 18 months old.

We lived on the corner of Lytton Road and Bulwer Road in Gisborne.

The house was old. Ellen had much of the section in vegetables, which she and the children looked after. I remember Fred came out one day, but only dug a couple of spadefuls. He said it was too much like hard work! Then went back inside.

Fred worked at the Kaiti Freezing Works. He carried a sugar sack to work with his lunch etc and sometimes bought some meat home.

He went to the pub 6 nights a week and came home drunk. On Sundays he would lie on his bed all day. He never bought any booze into the house.

He chewed dark plug tobacco, and he had a spittoon by the kitchen table, it was my job to change the dirt in it once a week.

We had a flush toilet outside. Fred had a potty in his bedroom, and it was my job from quite a little kid to take it to the toilet and empty it every day. Once a week he would have a ‘bath’. A basin was filled with water, he sat on a chair with his feet in the water and washed himself. I asked Mum once why he did that, she said it was because he had always done that. She never called him Fred, it was always ‘Wills’. The rest of us had a bath once a week, which was the norm in those days.

He never said why he had come to NZ or talk about his early life.

Mike Wills



Fred Wills was born in Rainham, Kent, England in 1883. Rainham at the time was a small village bordering the town of Gillingham. One of its main industries was Brickmaking and this is where Fred's father Robert was employed for the most of his early life producing the huge quantities of bricks which drove Englands construction. Fred is listed in 1901 age 18 as a brickfield labourer with his father.

After Robert left the Brickfields the census lists him as an agricultural labourer. Fred apparently was employed around this time in carting cherries from a 17 acre cherry farm to London for sale, so the two may have been working in the same farm. Freds job was also to shoot the crows that came to eat the cherries and he was given a rifle to scare them away. However he was frightened of guns, and one time while firing it knocked himself through a fence with the recoil.

With the decline in the Kent industries many left to find alternative employment and hundreds were driven to emigrate, Fred was one of them and in 1910 he emmigrated to New Zealand to find new opportunities, settling in the isolated area of Gisborne. In 1916 he married his cousins wifes sister, a young English girl named Ellen Elizabeth Grafham with whom he had five children, John, Frank, Freda, Arthur, Robert and Charlie.

In 1926 they purchased a small farm with 35 cows at Te Karaka, however Fred didn't know how to milk a cow and had to hire a boy to milk the cows for him. The following year my grandfather Robert was born.

Ellen died in of Pneumonia in 1931, leaving Fred with the five young children. He hired a housemaid Ellen Daisy Crist, who was a divorcee with a small child of her own.

This turn into a relationship, and seven more children were born, William, Delia, Rollas, George, Bruce and Michael bringing the total number of children in the household to 13.

The family then moved to the city and Fred worked at the Freezing works and later in life went to work for the council as vice president of the Gisborne General Labourers Union which represented workers he was trying to get more profile. He regularly attendend the Arbitration Court over labour issues and putting up proposals for increases in the annual awards and if the growers didn’t meet them it was deemed to be a dispute.

Fred and Ellen did not marry until 1954, a mere 2 years before Fred's death. Fred died in 1956 aged 75 of Ventricular fibrillation, which is a condition in which there is uncoordinated contraction of the cardiac muscle of the ventricles in the heart, making them tremble rather than contract properly and causes sudden death. He was laid to rest in Taruheru cemetery.


random notes:

blurb 1956

Fred Wills, vice president of the Gisborne General Labourers Union which represented workers was trying to get more profile. Regularly attendend the Arbitration Court over labour issues. They would put up proposals for increases in the annual awards and if the growers didn’t meet them it was deemed to be a dispute.”

WILLS Frederick - Gisborne - Council Employee 1956 - 1956

never hit the kids, but could growel

didnt go to world war 1

a girl to take care of the house

came out to new zealand, and then returened home again, but all his friends had left so came back to new zealand.

ellen came to new zealand first by herself and wrote home to ethel to come out to new zealand.

john lost money in a machine and then took it apart to retrive the money. fred got wild and called a mechanic.


POPULATION: 1951 census, 19,774; 1956 census, 22,622; 1961 census, 25,065

WW1 Record:

Fred Wills

1st Reserves


Poverty Bay

Address: c/r Kitney Whatatutu

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Fred Wills's Timeline

February 3, 1883
Rainham, Kent, England
June 6, 1919
Age 36
Gisborne, Gisborne District, Gisborne, New Zealand
December 30, 1920
Age 37
Gisborne, New Zealand
August 30, 1922
Age 39
Gisborne, Gisborne District, Gisborne, New Zealand
April 27, 1927
Age 44
Gisborne, New Zealand
September 25, 1929
Age 46
Gisborne, New Zealand
January 18, 1934
Age 50
Gisborne, New Zealand
December 1935
Age 52