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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Wells family come from? What is the English Wells family crest and coat of arms? When did the Wells family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Wells family history?

Wells is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Wells family lived in Lincolnshire, at Wells.

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Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Wells, Welles, Well and others.

First found in Lincolnshire where they are conjecturally descended from Gilbert de Ghent who held the village and mill of Well from the Bishop of Bayeaux at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wells research. Another 201 words(14 lines of text) covering the years 1352, 1406, 1421, 1450, 1461, and 1499 are included under the topic Early Wells History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 51 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wells Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Wells family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 145 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Wells or a variant listed above:

Wells Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Nathaniel Wells, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1629
  • Lidia Wells, who arrived in New England in 1634
  • Henrie Wells, aged 23, arrived in St Christopher in 1634
  • Greg Wells, who arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Hugh Wells, who landed in Massachusetts in 1635


Wells Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Mary Wells, who landed in Virginia in 1703
  • Honour Wells, who arrived in Virginia in 1706
  • Joseph Wells, who landed in Maryland in 1740
  • William Wells, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1772

Wells Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Peter Wells, who landed in New York, NY in 1815
  • James Wells, settled in Nantucket in 1823
  • Matthew Wells, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1836
  • Jacob Wells, who landed in New York, NY in 1844
  • Jonathan Wells, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1845


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  • Carolyn Wells (1862-1942), American author and poet who wrote more than 170 books, best known now for her light verse
  • Rhoshii Wells (1976-2008), American boxer, who won the bronze medal in the Middleweight Division at the 1996 Summer Olympics
  • Dawn Elberta Wells (b. 1938), American actress known for playing Mary Ann Summers on the sitcom Gilligan's Island from 1964 until 1967
  • Frank Wells (1932-1994), American entertainment businessman and a 1953 Rhodes Scholar
  • Alice Stebbins Wells (1873-1957), the first American-born female police officer in the United States, hired in 1910 in Los Angeles
  • Audrey Wells (b. 1960), American Sundance Film Festival Award winning screenwriter, film director, and producer
  • Basil Eugene Wells (1912-2003), American science fiction writer
  • Charles Richard "Bubba" Wells (b. 1974), retired American professional NBA basketball player
  • Cory Wells (b. 1942), born Emil Lewandowski, an American singer, best known as one of the three lead vocalists in the band Three Dog Night
  • Sir Thomas Spencer Wells (1818-1897), English surgeon to Queen Victoria, a medical professor and president of the Royal College of Surgeons

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  • The Ancestor s, Life, Times and Descendants of Ephraim Wells, 1675-1988 by William A. Wells.
  • The Descendants of Governor Thomas Welles of Connecticut, 1590-1658, and His Wife Alice Tomes by Donna Holt Siemiatkoski.
  • A History of the Warman and Related Families by Elroy Wilson Titus.
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  1. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  2. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  4. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  5. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  6. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  8. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  10. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  11. ...

The Wells Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Wells Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 15 October 2014 at 20:07.

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