Was John Wells bc1762 from Cheltenham (General)

by RJKnott, Saturday, April 13, 2019, 19:05 (313 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:

Was John Wells bc1762 from Cheltenham

by MPGriffiths @, Sunday, April 14, 2019, 12:19 (313 days ago) @ RJKnott

? Were there any witness to John WELLS's wedding

5 June 1788 at Saint Dunstan, Stepney, London to Elizabeth WAUGH

(transcript seems to be on FindmyPast)


According to the UK, Land Tax Redemption, 1798 London

(there seems to be two Indexes (each one lists which streets are in each Parish...)

(St Pancras seems to be in Middlesex - need checking)

so far thse include for London


Surname: WELLS

Edmund : London Farringdon
Bagnigge : London
Mr WELLS : London
Wm : St Brides, London
J. London Tower Ward
Danl : St Alphage
Mr WELLS : London
Wm. London Walbrook Ward
Saml : St Brides London
Wm : St Mary Abchurch
Saml : London, Farringdon
Jon: Smithfield Precinct
Wm: Bridge, London
Wells : St Brides
Josh : Cornhill Ward
Thos : London
John : London
Thos : Third and Fourth Precincts
Thos : London
Widow WELLS : Smithfield Precinct
Edwd : Allhallows, London


DNA testing is possibly one way to prove Male relatives.

Was John Wells bc1762 from Cheltenham

by RJKnott, Sunday, April 14, 2019, 17:48 (312 days ago) @ MPGriffiths

Thank you for replying.

The witnesses were Robert Vaughan (who witnessed several so was probably a churchwarden) and Sarah Bradley who left a mark.

That said, I think anything advances will come from the Cheltenham records. I have searched all the London tax/voting records together with many others, and think they are unlikely to show a link with Cheltenham.

Although something signed by John Wells would be good, I think a more likely route back will be finding out who his nephew Samuel's father was (it would have to be Ezra or, more likely, Samuel.

Given that Samuel (d1783) was guardian to the four youngest children I'm slightly surprised his will didn't mention any of them, but something else may emerge.

(I thought Elizabeth might be the one who married James George in 1795 and hen later Benjamin Chapman, but I think it unlikely now)


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