Janet Stancomb-Wills

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Dame Janet Stancomb Graham Stancomb-Wills, DBE (25 January 1854 – 22 August 1932) was the eldest daughter of George Perkins and Catherine Janet (née Lobb) Stancomb, at Aldersgate, London, and niece of the first Baron Winterstoke (Sir W. H. Wills). With the early deaths of her father, and older brother, she and her sister, Yda Emily Margaretha Stancomb (31 January 1856 – 22 September 1936), were adopted by Sir William Henry Wills, and Janet and Yda officially changed their names to Stancomb-Wills in 1893.

Dame Janet was the first woman mayor of Ramsgate, Kent, an office which she held from 1923–24, and she was also the first person to receive, in 1922, the Freedom of the Town. She was president of the Royal West of England Academy and president of the School of Architecture at Bristol in 1921. In 1927, she was appointed Justice of the Peace for Kent. She died on 22 August 1932 at Eastcourt, Ramsgate, Kent, aged 78. [1][2]

Name change[edit]

The sisters, following their joint adoption by Sir William Henry Wills, changed their names by deed poll to, respectively, Janet Stancomb Graham Stancomb-Wills and Yda Emily Margaretha Stancomb-Wills[3]


  • In 1923, she completed the Winterstoke sun shelter and rock gardens for public use on the sea front near her home (East Court) on the East Cliff in Ramsgate
  • She provided the money for a maternity ward and nurses home at the Ramsgate General Hospital. The Nurses Home in Ramsgate opened in 1927, containing 30 bedrooms and offices; she also provided the town with a motor ambulance and most up-to-date fire-fighting equipment.
  • She bought land for a new elementary school in Ramsgate, which was named in her honour, the Dame Janet Community Junior School - From December 2012 has been merged with the infants school to become "Dame Janet Primary Academy".
  • The Stancomb-Wills Glacier Tongue (75°0′S 22°0′W) is the extensive seaward projection of the Stancomb-Wills Glacier into the eastern Weddell Sea. The cliffed front of this feature was discovered in January 1915 by a British expedition led by Ernest Shackleton. He named it the Stancomb-Wills Promontory after Dame Janet, one of the principal donors of the expedition. One on the lifeboats in which Shackleton's crew escaped to Elephant island was named the 'Stancomb Wills'.[4]

Popular culture[edit]

Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills was portrayed by Elizabeth Spriggs in the TV series 'Shackleton'.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Profile, socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu; accessed 10 June 2015.
  2. ^ Profile, ghgraham.org; accessed 10 June 2015.
  3. ^ [1] "WE, Janet Stancomb Graham Stancomb-Wills and Yda Emily Margaretha Stancomb-Wills formerly respectively called and known by the name of Janet Stancomb Graham Stancomb and Yda Emily Margaretha Stancomb, both of 25, Hyde-park-gardens, in the County of Middlesex, spinsters, hereby declare that we have respectively ASSUMED and ADOPTED the SURNAME of STANCOMB-WILLS, in lieu of and in substitution for that of Stancomb, and we now do, and at all times hereafter will, in all deeds and writings, and for all purposes and on all occasions whatsoever, use the surname of Stancomb-Wills as and for our surnames. In witness whereof we, the said Janet Stancomb Graham Stancomb-Wills and Yda Emily Margaretha Stancomb-Wills, have hereunto set our hands and seals this seventh day of June, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-three. Signed, sealed, and delivered by the above named Janet Stancomb Graham Stancomb-Wills and Yda Emily Margaretha Stancomb-Wills, in the presence of Theodore McKinna, 17 and 18, Basinghall-street, London, Solicitor. W. H. Farley, Grantham-house, Nelson-crescent, Ramsgate, Butler.
    Y. E. M. STANCOMB-WILLS, (Seal.)
  4. ^ Ernest Shackleton, 'South. The story of Shackleton's last expedition 1914-1917'. London, William Heinemann, 1919.',
  5. ^ Internet movie database. 'Shackleton' (2002), retrieved on 23 January 2016.

External links[edit]