Explore the Family Name Willis

The meaning of Willis

English: 1. variant of Will with genitival -s. This surname represents a retention of the second syllable, introduced by the addition of the Middle English genitival suffix -es, which would have been pronounced in the Middle English period. Compare Wills. In some cases the name is a variant of Willey, with genitival or post-medieval excrescent -s. 2. variant of Willows. History: George Willis is recorded in Boston, MA, in the 1630s. Nathianel Willis, born in Boston in 1780, and his son Nathaniel Parker Willis, born in Portland, ME, in 1806, were both prominent journalists.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Willis in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the surname Willis has seen a slight decrease in popularity between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, Willis ranked as the 216th most popular surname, but by 2010, it fell to the 230th spot, a drop of 6.48 percent. However, the actual count of people with the Willis name increased by 3.6 percent from 125,627 in 2000 to 130,152 in 2010. The proportion per 100,000 people also decreased by 5.26 percent, signaling a relative decline in popularity.

20002010Change
Rank#216#230-6.48%
Count125,627130,1523.6%
Proportion per 100k46.5744.12-5.26%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Willis

In terms of ethnicity, the Decennial U.S. Census data indicates several shifts for those bearing the Willis surname between 2000 and 2010. The percentage of individuals identifying as White declined slightly by 3.89 percent from 64.74 percent to 62.22 percent. Meanwhile, those identifying as Black saw a small increase of 2.27 percent, reaching 31.07 percent in 2010. Over the decade, the Hispanic representation within the Willis surname rose by 55.03 percent, and those identifying as two or more races grew by 44.07 percent. Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian and Alaskan Native increased by 10.87 percent and 14.66 percent respectively, though they still represent smaller portions of the Willis surname holders.

20002010Change
White64.74%62.22%-3.89%
Black30.38%31.07%2.27%
Two or More Races1.77%2.55%44.07%
Hispanic1.49%2.31%55.03%
American Indian and Alaskan Native1.16%1.33%14.66%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.46%0.51%10.87%

Willis ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Willis is British & Irish, which comprises 53.8% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (20.2%) and Nigerian (4.8%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Scandinavian, Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean, Spanish & Portuguese, and Italian.

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ANCESTRY BREAKDOWNCOMPOSITION
British & Irish53.8%
French & German20.2%
Nigerian4.8%
Other21.2%
Willis

Possible origins of the surname Willis

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Willis have recent ancestry locations all within United Kingdom.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom84.90%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom84.50%
Merseyside, United Kingdom84.40%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom84.30%
Tyne And Wear, United Kingdom84.10%

What Willis haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Willis is R-P311, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-P311 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include E-V13 and R-CTS241, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Wright, Williams, Brown, Howard, Davis, Clark, Smith, Taylor, Hall, Harrison.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Willis surname are: H1, H, T2b. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

willisPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Willis have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.

Preferences

Willis

Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Willis" Surname 40.6%

23andMe Users 41.3%

Traits

Willis

Misophonia

When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Willis" Surname 25.1%

23andMe Users 27.9%

Habits

Willis

Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Willis" Surname 28.0%

23andMe Users 21.1%

Wellness

Willis

Migraine

A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Willis" Surname 18.4%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Willis?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Willis are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%