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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


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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The surname Wells 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." [1]

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wells research. Another 169 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1352, 1421, 1450, 1499, 1406, 1461 and are included under the topic Early Wells History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 87 words (6 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 137 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 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 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 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


Wells Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Thomas Wells, who settled in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, in 1769
  • James and William Wells, who settled in Port de Grave, Newfoundland, in 1776

Wells Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Henry J Wells, who landed in Canada in 1830
  • Aldridge Wells, who landed in Canada in 1831
  • Walter H Wells, who landed in Canada in 1835

Wells Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • George Wells, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • William Wells, English convict from Berkshire, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • James Wells, English convict from Southampton, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on July 3, 1822, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • Esther Wells, English convict from Bristol, who was transported aboard the "America" on December 30, 1830, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Catherine Wells, English convict from Leicester, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila


Wells Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Annie Wells landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Samuel Wells arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Whitby" in 1841
  • James Wells, aged 40, a farmer, arrived in New Plymouth aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar" in 1841850
  • Helen Wells, aged 24, arrived in New Plymouth aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar" in 1841850
  • Catherine Wells, aged 4, arrived in New Plymouth aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar" in 1841850


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  • John Keith Wells (1922-2016), United States Marine during World War II who led one of the most decorated infantry platoons; his platoon led the attack on Mt. Suribachi and for raising the first flag on the summit
  • Alexander Wells (1803-1854), American politician, Justice of California State Supreme Court, 1853-54
  • Horatio N. Wells (1807-1858), American Democrat politician, Wisconsin Territory attorney general, 1839-41; Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1847-48
  • James Wells, American politician, Member of Minnesota Territorial House of Representatives, 1849-51, 1853
  • James K. Wells, American Democrat politician, Member of Alaska Territorial House of Representatives 2nd District, 1951-52
  • Cory Wells (1942-2015), born Emil Lewandowski, an American singer, best known as one of the three lead vocalists in the band Three Dog Night
  • Charles Richard "Bubba" Wells (b. 1974), retired American professional NBA basketball player
  • Basil Eugene Wells (1912-2003), American science fiction writer
  • Audrey Wells (b. 1960), American Sundance Film Festival Award winning screenwriter, film director, and producer
  • Alice Stebbins Wells (1873-1957), the first American-born female police officer in the United States, hired in 1910 in Los Angeles

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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. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  2. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  3. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. 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).
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  7. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  8. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  10. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  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 2 May 2016 at 14:23.

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