Well History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Well came to England with the ancestors of the Well family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Well 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 Well family

The surname Well 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 Well family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Well 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 Well History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Well Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Wells, Welles, Well and others.

Early Notables of the Well 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 Well Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Well Ranking

In the United States, the name Well is the 13,882nd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Well family to Ireland

Some of the Well 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 Well migration to the United States +

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Well or a variant listed above:

Well Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mary Well, who landed in Virginia in 1663 [8]
  • John Well, who landed in Virginia in 1666 [8]
Well Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Christian Well, who landed in New York, NY in 1782 [8]
Well Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Well, aged 28, who arrived in St Louis, Missouri in 1842 [8]
  • J P Well, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [8]

Canada Well migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Well Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Otto Well, aged 15, who arrived in Quebec in 1868

Australia Well migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Well Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Francis Well, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cressy" in 1847 [9]
  • Maria Well, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Boyne" in 1850 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Well (post 1700) +

  • Timothy Well (1961-2017), ring name of Timothy Alan Smith, an American professional wrestler


  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CRESSY 1847. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1847Cressy.htm
  10. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The barque BOYNE 1850, 521 tons. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850Boyne.htm


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