Sonny Bill Williams

Williams in 2014, Australian Embassy in Samoa, photo: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website –

Birth Name: Sonny William Williams

Place of Birth: Auckland, New Zealand

Date of Birth: 3 August, 1985

*Samoan (father)
*Welsh, English (mother)

Sonny Bill Williams is a New Zealand rugby union player, rugby league player, and heavyweight boxer.

He is the son of Lee Woolsey and John Williams. His father is Samoan. His mother has Welsh and English ancestry. Sonny Bill has dual citizenship with New Zealand and Samoa. He is a Muslim.

Sonny Bill is a brother of rugby league player John Arthur Williams, and rugby sevens player and New Zealand international touch football captain Niall Williams. Sonny Bill is a cousin of rugby league players Marcus Perenara and Henry Perenara, who is also a referee. He is also a cousin of siblings, rugby union players Nick Williams and Tim Nanai-Williams.

Sonny Bill is married, and has three children.

Sonny Bill’s paternal grandmother likely is named Nellie. She likely was the granddaughter of Fuamatu Niusila/Nu’usila Williams and Sisilia Moemau’u Satele.

Sonny Bill’s maternal grandfather was named William James “Bill” Woolsey. William was a rugby league player.

Sonny Bill’s maternal grandmother was Denise Francesca Phillips (the daughter of William T. Phillips and Gladys Mary Sage). Denise was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales. Gladys was born in Maindee, St Matthew, Monmouthshire, the daughter of Daniel Sage and Sarah Ann Humphreys.

A picture of Sonny Bill’s maternal grandparents can be seen here.

Source: Obituary of Sonny Bill’s maternal grandmother, Denise Francesca (Phillips) Woolsey –

16 Responses

  1. comrade says:
    This tree is incorrect (in multiple ways). It states that Denise Francesca Phillips was born in Newport, Wales but Denise was Australian according to these articles:
    * (“Lee’s mother is Australian, which made Williams eligible to play for the Kangaroos had he so chosen”)
    * Sonny Bill referred to himself as: “I’ve always just said I’m half-Kiwi and half-Samoan but I guess I am a bit Aussie [too].”

    The same tree also states that Bill Woolsey died in 2004 but he actually died in 2003. His full name is William James Woolsey (1929-2003). He might be related to the Woolsey’s of Auckland. So Bill’s granddad (Sonny Bill’s great-great granddad) might(!) be Amos Woolsey: (not entirely sure though)

    And lastly I don’t think Aolele Williams (Nick and Tim Nanai-Williams’ mother) is John Williams’ sister either as she isn’t stated as a sibling on the same headstone as John Williams. I think she’s probably his cousin through his mum Nellie Williams.

    Also there’s a spelling mistake Nellie Williams* is Sonny Bill’s paternal grandmother not grandfather.

    *It’s very likely that Williams is Nellie’s birth surname and her eldest children took her surname instead of their father’s for whatever reason.

    I’m also fairly certain that Fuamatu Niusila/Nu’usila Williams and Sisilia Moemau’u Satele are Sonny Bill’s paternal great-great-grandparents.
    (there’s a picture of their gravestones on his aunt’s facebook)
    Sisilia Williams:
    Fuamatu Williams:

  2. andrew says:

    Thank you so much.

    My main interest was to know if the Williams clan is fully Samoan or not.

    • comrade says:

      I won’t know until I find Henry Navy Williams’ parents. I guess there is at least some English in that family considering their surname is Williams.

      I’m not entirely sure but they might be related to this family:

      Also I think I have the wrong William Woolsey.
      Here they said William “Bill” Woolsey died 2004. The only William Woolsey that died in 2004 in NZ is the one that was born in 1920 in Kent, UK.
      (2004/16257 Woolsey Dennis William 22 June 1920 via But here it says he died without having children so it can’t be him.

      There’s another William Woolsey (William James Woolsey) that died in 2003. (2003/19030 Woolsey William James 2 February 1929). I checked the census and there’s a William James Woolsey living with a Denise Francesca Woolsey in Grey Lynn, Auckland. This is very likely the RIGHT William Woolsey. So he died in 2003 NOT in 2004.

      • andrew says:

        The Williams family from Samoa you linked carried that surname since mid 1800s. The last traceable ancestor had a Polynesian name alongside the surname Williams (that is more Welsh than English).

        • comrade says:

          Should probably write it as:
          *Samoan, some amount of British Isles (father)

          I can’t find much information on the Williams family or how they are related to Arthur Williams other than the fact that he was born in Samoa and died in Auckland. And the names Arthur, Louise, Mina and Siatua are all names of Sonny Bill’s relatives and also appear in this family tree. Plus there’s a picture of Fuamatu Nu’usila Williams and Sisilia Willams’ gravestone on his relative’s facebook.

          I found Henry Navy Williams’ grave but no mention of any parents.

          Nellie Crichton (nee Williams) is most likely Sonny Bill’s great aunt (Henry Navy Williams’ sister)

          But it also could be that Nellie is Sonny Bill’s grandmother and that her son John (there’s a John mentioned on the headstone) changed his name from Crichton to Williams?

        • comrade says:

          I’m now pretty certain that Nellie Williams is Sonny Bill’s paternal grandmother (John Williams’ mother).

          Noreen (mentioned on the headstone) referred to John Williams as her brother. Louise (mentioned on the headstone) also has the surname Williams instead of Crichton. Maybe they are Nellie’s children and Robert Crichton step-children?

          • andrew says:

            There’s a Crichton clan in Samoa, started with this man:

            I think Sonny Bill’s Williams’ patrilineal line began with a British man who ended in Samoa (possibly through NZ) and married a local woman

            Considering the hype around Sonny Bill, he may join showbiz soon after the end of his sporting career, so we will know more things about him

            He is still the most paid rugby player in the world atm

          • comrade says:

            I know Robert Crichton is also part Samoan but I don’t think he’s Sonny Bill’s bio granddad. Robert is most likely SBW’s step-granddad.

            It’s certain that Nellie Crichton (nee Williams) is SBW’s paternal grandmother. Nellie was born in 1937 in Samoa.

            On the 1957 nz census she was still Nellie Williams but on the 1978 census she’s Nellie Crichton. So I think she married Robert Crichton sometime after 1957 and I think John Williams was born before 1957.

  3. comrade says:

    Nick and Tim Nanai-Williams’ mother Aolele Williams is the sister of Sonny Bill’s father John Williams.

    Marcus Perenara and Henry Perenara’s mother (Sherree Williams) is the daughter of Henry Navy Williams and Yvonne Wadsworth.

    Sherree Williams is John Williams’ cousin. So Henry Navy Williams’ brother is Sonny Bill’s grandfather. But I can’t find a birth record for Henry Navy Williams in Samoa/NZ or anything else relating to him.

    William “Bill” Woolsey was born in 1920 in Kent, UK to Constance P. Woolsey.(

    William “Bill” Woolsey’s immigration to NZ:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.