Wels History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Wels arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Wels 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 Wels family

The surname Wels 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 Wels family

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

Wels Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Wells, Welles, Well and others.

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

Ireland Migration of the Wels family to Ireland

Some of the Wels 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.

Migration of the Wels family

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Wels or a variant listed above: Gregory Wells, who arrived in Virginia in 1635; Thomas Wells of Rothwell, Northampton, who settled in Connecticut in 1636, where he later became the Governor.



  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)


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