Fillis_Street sign.jpg Fillis Street sign (2014). Mike Gooch. Word on the Street image collection.

Fillis Street was named after Richard Fillis, Esq., a director of the Plymouth Company. He was afterwards a member of the local board of the New Zealand Company, based in Plymouth.

Fillis was another of the company's directors who never came to Taranaki.

The naming of a street after him was one of the early decisions by surveyor Frederic Alonso Carrington, whose map of New Plymouth showing the street can be viewed online at Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

It is likely that Richard Fillis, Wine Merchant of Regent Place, Plymouth, listed as a freeman of the Borough of Plymouth in 1817, was the same Richard Fillis. To be a freeman, an individual had to be born within the borough boundaries.

Wine merchant Richard Fillis partnered with Priscilla Symons, widow, and Peter Dunsterville, also a merchant, all of Plymouth, in several leases. In 1809, they leased a tenement, orchard and herb garden in Mill Street, in the parish Plympton-St-Mary, Devon. Further land was leased in Plympton-St-Mary from William Eastlake, gentleman. The partners leased land in Dark Street Lane from George Prideaux, also a gentleman, for a peppercorn rental in 1810. Other land in Dark lane was leased for £250.

Is this the same Richard Fillis, of Vauxhall Street in 1832, who complains to the Plymouth Commissioners for Plymouth and West Devon that he has been overrated, because of a summer house in his garden?

The Will of Richard Fillis of Plymouth, Devon, dated 19 June 1856, is available online from the British Archives for a fee of £3.50. The document runs to three pages, and may contain detail allowing some insight into the identity and holdings of Mr. Richard Fillis, by now himself a Gentleman.  But money is tight here in the colonies, and we have no budget for such expenses.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

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