Was John Wells bc1762 from Cheltenham (General)

by RJKnott, Saturday, April 13, 2019, 19:05 (239 days ago)

Apologies for quite a complicated post.

If burial dates and wills can be believed, the facts about John Wells are:

He was born c1762; he lived in London from at least 1784 when he had a daughter with an unmarried 35 year-old woman; he married that woman in 1788 signing the marriage entry in a very clear hand; in 1789 they had a son, Benjamin Barnes Wells; in 1798 he hanged himself (he was described as a shoemaker at the inquest); in 1800 his wife died leaving a will which mentioned their two children together with 'Samuel Wells son of my husband's brother' and naming Joseph Wells of Rathbone Street and Lewis John Bodville Wells as executors (but not saying how they were related to her husband).

I can find out quite lot about Lewis Wells (whose father came from Lydney in Glos at one time) but have established no possible links to John Wells (or indeed Joseph).

Joseph Wells of Rathbone Street is part of the large well-off Wells family based in Cheltenham, many of whom moved to London: Benjamin (c1752-1820), Joseph (c1753-1815), Nathaniel (?-1801), Ezra (c1765-1830), Sarah (? -1829), Samuel (alive 1829), John (1760-), Elizabeth. Most of them left wills which often mention their siblings but never John.

Their parents were Joseph Wells, a hatter (d1770) and Jane (nee Barnes); the latter's 1771 will mentions the youngest four children. She had been left a significant amount of money in 1759 by her brother Benjamin Barnes.

The big question is whether 'my' John Wells is the one who was born in Cheltenham in 1760. The principal reasons why he might be are;
- he called his son after Benjamin Barnes who left his mother (and therefore him) money;
- he clearly has a connection with the family through Joseph (d1815).
- there is a John Wells who was apprenticed to George Oakey, a Cheltenham cordwainer, in 1772;
- he was literate so appears educated

I know a great deal about the Wells family and have lots of possible sightings for John between 1772 and 1784 (such as the young clerk, John Wells, from Cheltenham, who was tried in London in 1783, after a long chase across country, for stealing a huge amount of money from his employer!) which may explain his fall from grace, but no definite connections. The Wells family were non-conformist so baptismal entries are few and far between.

Ideally I would like to find something with John's signature on (such as the apprentice papers). I also have not found out who the Samuel Wells in his wife's will is as none of his brothers had a son called Samuel (except, perhaps Ezra or Samuel as I haven't traced any children for them).

Any new information would be great; or even views as to whether the connection is likely. I'm happy to provide more information if necessary.


More info on Wells family here:

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