Wel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Wel is a name that first reached England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Wel family lived in Lincolnshire, at Wells. In ancient records the name was listed in the Latin form "de Fontibus." [1]

"Both Wells in Somerset and Wells in Norfolk occur in charters of the Anglo Saxon period as ‘æt Wyllan - of wylla - and Welles.' The Somerset name refers more specifically to a spring near the cathedral called St. Andrew's Well; but there are 'numerous springs in the neighbourhood.' " [2]

"This is an ancient English name which was represented commonly by Welles in the counties of Oxford and Cambridge in the reign of Edward I. It is at present most numerous in the south of England, in Oxfordshire (as of old), Wiltshire, Berkshire, Sussex, and Kent. It has, however, an independent home in Lincolnshire, and extends northwards into Yorkshire and Lancashire." [3]

Early Origins of the Wel family

The surname Wel was 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. A little later another entry was found for the family at Bitchfield, again in Lincolnshire. "The church was consecrated and endowed by Hugh de Wells, who presided over the diocese from the year 1209 to 1234." [4]

Baron Adam de Welles or Welle (d. 1311), was the son of William de Welle and his wife, Isabella de Vesci. "The family took its name from the manor of Well, near Alford in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, in which neighbourhood nearly all its estates lay; but later and more famous members of it adopted the surname Welles, though in earlier times they were more commonly described as Welle. The earliest of the family mentioned in Dugdale flourished under Richard I. William, Adam's father, paid fine in 1279 for his knighthood to be postponed for three years. " [5]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed: Gilbert de Welles, Norfolk; and William de Welles, Lincolnshire while the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 had only one listing: Johannes del Well. [6]

In Scotland, the first records were in the Latin form de Fontibus: "Willelmus de fontibus witnessed a gift by Philip de Mubray to the monks of Dunfermline, c. 1202-14, and Henricua de Fonte was witness to the gift by Philip de Mubray of a toft in Inuerkethin to the church of St. Thomas of Aberbrothoc, p. 1219. " [1]

A few years later, we see the first records in English: "Richard de Welles witnessed a grant in favor of the chaplain of St. Peter at Duffus, 1240 (REM., 213), and Walter de Welles is mentioned in an Aberdeen document of 1277 (Friars, 13). Alisaundre de Welles was warden of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in Scotland, 1296." [1]

Early History of the Wel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wel research. Another 85 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1352, 1421, 1405, 1461, 1405, 1376, 1421, 1450, 1499, 1406, 1461, 1598, 1660, 1598, 1635, 1636, 1637, 1639, 1654, 1655, 1658 and are included under the topic Early Wel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wel Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Wel are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Wel include Wells, Welles, Well and others.

Early Notables of the Wel family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was John de Welles, 5th Baron Welles (1352-1421), an English soldier and noble. Lionel, Leo or Lyon Welles, sixth Baron Welles (1405?-1461), was an English soldier, born about 1405, the son of Eudo de Welles. "From Adam de Welles, first Baron Welles, descended John de Welles, fifth Baron, summoned to parliament as baron from 20 Jan. 1376 to 26 Feb. 1421, and distinguished in the French and Scottish wars. " [5] John Welles, 1st Viscount Welles KG (c. 1450-1499), was an English Lancastrian Nobleman who was made a Knight of the Garter; and Lionel de Welles...
Another 169 words (12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Wel family to Ireland

Some of the Wel family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 75 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Wel migration to the United States +

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Wel, or a variant listed above:

Wel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Hendrik Van Wel, who arrived in Iowa in 1854 [7]


  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


Houseofnames.com on Facebook