The sudden death of William Lillie of Sudbury, on January 3rd, 1868, left the Rev. E. Sidney, (Rector of Little Cornard and President of the Sudbury Literary Institute), ‘under a greater depression of spirits that he had ever felt on any previous occasion when he had met them’. He went on to mention the many excellent qualities of the good man whom they had lost and noted that: ‘everyone who was acquainted with him would feel with him that a more honest man or a more worthy person never appeared amongst them’. His being taken away so suddenly greatly affected his, (Rev. Sidney’s), own mind, for he felt that their Society ‘had lost a good officer and the town an excellent and worthy inhabitant’.
Besides being Hon. Treasurer of the Sudbury Literary Institute for nearly fourteen years, William Lillie was Assistant Treasurer to the Corporation, and he worked at a bank on the Market Hill, Sudbury. He was a much-respected Sudburian, and a man of great integrity and piety who cared very much for the welfare of the poorer families of the town who lived in the crowded and insanitary yards and alleys. He tried to give practical help such as support for the Christian Mothers’ and Fathers’ meetings organised in the early 1860’s by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Sparrow Pratt in Friars Street.
He was the son of John Lillie, who was described as a ‘labourer’ when he was admitted to the Freedom of Sudbury in 1800. William was born in 1803 and baptised at St. Gregory’s Church. Just like his friend William Hodson, he was Master of the Boys’ National and Charity School in North Street for many years. It is likely that his connection with the School would have begun before his appointment as Master in 1823, at the age of twenty, and he would have passed through the several stages of scholar, monitor and teacher. His salary was partly met by subscriptions within the parish from the wealthier inhabitants and he also received £10 a year from Susan Girling’s Charity and the Crossman Charity. His home was the School Master’s house in North Street. He was admitted to the Freedom of Sudbury on June 10th, 1826.
In 1838, he was offered a position as cashier at Messrs. Oakes & Co. He was able to move first to Sepulchre Street and then to a larger house on thecorner of Straw Lane, next to a beer- house known as ‘The Rising Sun’. He had married his first wife, Anna Davey, in 1827. By the time of her death in December,1850, aged just 48, she was the mother of eleven children. Two years later, he married Anne Cooper from Halstead. William’s talents as a treasurer continued to be appreciated and, in October 1860, he was presented with a gold watch purchased by the members of the Sudbury Literary Institute and presented by the Rev. E. Sidney as a token of the respect and esteem in which he was held.

William Lillie’s grave in Sudbury Cemetery
William Lillie’s home in Straw Lane, Sudbury