Wells History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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. 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 Wells family

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." [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 Wells family

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

Wells Spelling Variations

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.

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

Wells World Ranking

In the United States, the name Wells is the 124th most popular surname with an estimated 181,551 people with that name. [7] However, in Canada, the name Wells is ranked the 318th most popular surname with an estimated 13,983 people with that name. [8] And in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Wells is the 37th popular surname with an estimated 584 people with that name. [9] Australia ranks Wells as 178th with 17,867 people. [10] New Zealand ranks Wells as 91st with 4,183 people. [11] The United Kingdom ranks Wells as 148th with 35,037 people. [12]

Ireland Migration of the Wells family to Ireland

Some of the Wells 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 Wells migration to the United States +

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 [13]
  • Lidia Wells, who arrived in New England in 1634 [13]
  • Thomas Wells, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1635 [13]
  • Gregory Wells, who arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Ann Wells, aged 20, who landed in New England in 1635 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Wells Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mary Wells, who landed in Virginia in 1703 [13]
  • Honour Wells, who arrived in Virginia in 1706 [13]
  • Joseph Wells, who landed in Maryland in 1740 [13]
  • William Wells, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1772 [13]
Wells Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Peter Wells, who landed in New York, NY in 1815 [13]
  • James Wells, settled in Nantucket in 1823
  • Matthew Wells, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1836 [13]
  • Jacob Wells, who landed in New York, NY in 1844 [13]
  • Jonathan Wells, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1845 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Wells migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Wells Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Wells, who settled in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, in 1769 [14]
  • James and William Wells, who settled in Port de Grave, Newfoundland, in 1776 [14]
  • Mr. Dudley Wells U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway, [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on October 26, 1783 was passenger number 272 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on September 28, 1783 at Staten Island, New York, USA [15]
  • Mr. William Wells U.E. who settled in Kingston, Ontario c. 1784 [15]
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
  • Mr. Jacob Wells, aged 69 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Sisters" departing 22nd April 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 20th June 1847 but he died on board [16]

Australia Wells migration to Australia +

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

Wells Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Wells, English convict who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 16th January 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [17]
  • George Wells, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia [18]
  • Mr. William Wells, English convict who was convicted in Boston, Lincolnshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Dromedary" on 11th September 1819, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [19]
  • William Wells, English convict from Berkshire, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia [20]
  • James Wells, English convict from Southampton, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on July 3, 1822, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [21]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Wells migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Wells Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Annie Wells, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Samuel Wells, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Whitby" in 1841
  • James Wells, aged 40, a farmer, who arrived in New Plymouth aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar" between 1841 and 1850
  • Helen Wells, aged 24, who arrived in New Plymouth aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar" between 1841 and 1850
  • Catherine Wells, aged 4, who arrived in New Plymouth aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar" between 1841 and 1850
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Wells migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [22]
Wells Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mr. Henrie Wells, (b. 1611), aged 23, British settler travelling from London, UK arriving in St Christopher (St. Kitts) on 5th January 1634 [13]
  • Mr. Mathew Wells, (b. 1607), aged 28, British settler traveling aboard the ship "William and John" arriving in St Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635 [23]
  • Mathew Wells, aged 28, who landed in St Christopher in 1635 [13]

Contemporary Notables of the name Wells (post 1700) +

  • Herbert George "H.G." Wells (1866-1946), English writer best known for such science fiction novels as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The First Men in the Moon and The Island of Doctor Moreau
  • Dawn Elberta Wells (1938-2020), American actress known for playing Mary Ann Summers on the sitcom Gilligan's Island from 1964 until 1967
  • 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
  • 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
  • Frank Wells (1932-1994), American entertainment businessman and a 1953 Rhodes Scholar
  • Rhoshii Wells (1976-2008), American boxer, who won the bronze medal in the Middleweight Division at the 1996 Summer Olympics
  • ... (Another 277 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mrs. Margaret H  Wells, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who survived the explosion but later died due to injuries [24]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Stanley A Wells (b. 1923), English Boy 1st Class serving for the Royal Navy from Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [25]
  • Mr. Ronald D G Wells (b. 1917), English Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Gravesend, Kent, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [25]
  • Mr. Philip J Wells (b. 1914), English Corporal serving for the Royal Marine from Boythorpe, Derbyshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [25]
  • Mr. Horace W Wells (b. 1917), English Stoker 1st Class serving for the Royal Navy from Wednesbury, Staffordshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [25]
  • Mr. Herbert W Wells (b. 1922), English Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [25]
  • ... (Another 1 entries are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Edward George Wells, British Stoker 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [26]
Prince of Wales colliery
  • Mr. Alfred Wells (b. 1842), Welsh coal miner who was working at the Prince of Wales Colliery in Abercarn, Wales on the 11th September 1878 when there was a coal mine explosion; he died [27]
RMS Titanic
  • Mrs. Addie Dart Wells, (née Trevaskis), aged 29, English Second Class passenger from Heamoor, Cornwall who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping on life boat 14 [28]
  • Miss Joan Wells, aged 4, English Second Class passenger from Heamoor, Cornwall who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping on life boat 14 [28]
  • Master Ralph Lester Wells, aged 2, English Second Class passenger from Heamoor, Cornwall who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping on life boat 14 [28]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Harold L. Wells, American Seaman First Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [29]
  • Mr. Raymond Virgil Wells Jr., American Seaman First Class from Missouri, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [29]
  • Mr. William Bennett Wells, American Seaman First Class from Missouri, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [29]
  • Mr. Floyd Arthur Wells, American Radioman Second Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [29]
  • Mr. Harvey Anthony Wells, American Shipfitter Second Class from California, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [29]


Suggested Readings for the name Wells +

  • 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.

  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. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  9. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  11. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  12. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  13. ^ 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)
  14. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  15. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  16. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 99)
  17. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  18. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Almorah voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1817 with 180 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/almorah/1817
  19. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/dromedary
  20. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Adamant voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1821 with 144 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/adamant/1821
  21. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 155 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/arab/1822
  22. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  23. ^ Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's (Retrieved October 4th 2021, retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  24. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  25. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  26. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  27. ^ Entombed in flood and flame (retrieved 3rd August 2021). Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20120603025705/http://www.crosskeys.me.uk/history/prince.htm
  28. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  29. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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