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Robert Welles of Galphay c.1516-1584/5

and descendants


Earliest known ancestor of John is his great x 11 grandfather Robert Welles of Galphay (in the parish of Kirkby Malzeard, which was the lower half of the Peculiar of Masham in Yorkshire), who leased a substantial property there for 45 years from Fountains Abbey (1) (2) in 1538 (shortly before its dissolution) paying 5 marks per annum (1 mark = 13 shillings and 4 pence = 66p). Lands in the Kirkby Malzeard area were once the property of the Mowbray* ( Moubray / Moubrai ) family, who had a castle there just over 2km from Galphay ( which was besieged in 20 Henry II [ie 1174] by Henry, the elect Bishop of Lincoln and soon after pulled down along with his other castle at Thirsk ).

In 1553 six messuages in Craven, in the several tenures of Robert Welles, John Maltehowse (aka Mawtus ), Thomas Duffeld, the elder, William Stele, Thomas Duffeld, the younger and Thomas Braithwayte were granted to George Talbott, knight, Lord Talbot, by King Edward VI. They included two woods called Galghye (Galphay) Woode and Cowmyres in the tenure of William Mallerye, esquire, a thicket called Skeugh/Sheugh in Galghye in tenure of Robert Wrekes and the parcel of pasture and wood in Clatherom** ( Clotherholme ) within Rypon parish, Yorkshire, in tenure of John Norton, esquire, All which (had) belonged to Fountains Monastery. Robert's rent was 3 pounds 6 shillings and 8 pence (3l 6s 8d = £3.33p) per annum, which equals 5 marks as before.

Robert Welles died in 1584/5, leaving a will that was proved in the Masham Peculiar Court ( Leeds Archives ). Amongst other things he leaves an annuity from lands in both Kirkby Malzeard and Laverton.

The story of the descendants of Robert Welles is told through numerous documents (see Vyner Deeds page for examples) including many wills, inventories, land transactions, court cases and indentures. A mention must also be made of the Beckwith family which was inextricably linked with John's family and Cow Myers / Galphay over the centuries.

*It was Roger de Moubray (1)  (born c.1254 Axholme, Lincolnshire -his father, also Roger,was buried in Pontefract, Yorkshire ) who had originally granted lands to Fountains Abbey which included 'Galghagh (Galphay) by the full bounds with all appurtenances' as later confirmed by his son and heir John de Moubray (1286-1321/2).

[ John de Welle(s) Lord Welles (b.1352 Conisholme, Lincolnshire - d.1422) married Eleanor (born 1368), sister of John de Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham and Thomas de Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk and Earl Marshall and daughter of John 4th Lord Mowbray ]

**The Vyner Deeds (VR4824,4825 and 4826) indicate that land was granted to Fountains by Dolfin, son of Godwin de Clotherholm around 1170, including a road across his land from the Ripon-Kirkby Malzeard road to a ford on Kex beck (VR 4827) and another road from the Ripon-Azerley road to where the monk's bridge stood. Land was also granted by Godwin and also by Simon (son of Godwin) with his son Henry. Galphay Grange was first mentioned as such in 1193 which is earlier than the Galphay lands granted by Roger de Moubray. Also, a public right of way currently exists between the Ripon-Azerley and Ripon-Kirkby Malzeard roads (linking Sutton Grange through to Winksley where Fountains also held land from Ralph de Bellum) which cuts through Cow Myers alongside the 'old fire house' (see photo below). This public right of way fords Kex Beck by Witch-of-the-Woods House.

Is Cow Myers the site of Galphay Grange on lands granted by the Clotherholm family? Do you know? co

We are also interested in any links between the Lincolnshire Welles and Alexander de Welles, Master/Prior of Torphichen and the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in Scotland. Alexander de Welles died in 1298 at the Battle of Falkirk where he fought with Adam de Welle(s) (of Lincolnshire) and Philip de Welle(s) against William Wallace.

Alexander was replaced as Master by Ranulph de Lindsay. It is interesting to note that in 1390, in Edinburgh, Baron John de Welles, of the same family, challenged David Lindsay (later 1st Earl of Crawford) to a duel, a joust on London Bridge in which Welles was unhorsed at the third pass.The last of this Welles line was John, Viscount Lord Welles (2) who died in 1499.  For further reading see the links on our page

 Alisaundre de Welles, Preceptor of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem A lion rampant, defaced (RR783(SHS64410, SAS2857). The seal probably has a crusilly background, to differentiate Alexander from the head of his house. The tail is normally double-queued for Welles but cannot be ascertained from the seal. Bruce McAndrew, Proc.Soc.Antiq.Scot, 129 (1999), 663-752.  The lion rampant on the seal of Friar Alisaundre de Welles almost certainly brings him within the ambit of the English family of that name which bore Or, a lion rampant queue four chy sable. Bruce A. McAndrew, Scotlands Historic Heraldry 2006, Boydell and Brewer Ltd.

A Roger de Mowbray was Sheriff of Linlithgow (approximately 6 km north east of Torphichen), Edinburgh and Haddington around 1264 and before. This Roger may be the son of Sir Philip de Mowbray of Scotland and cousin of Sir Roger de Mowbray (Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire). My thanks to David Mowbray for his helpful comments.



Full details HERE

Henry Wells and Isabell Wells ( underlined above ) were married to each another. They are John's gt x 7 grandparents. As indicated by '?' there is no proof that either Tristram or Christopher were the children of Ffrances and Elizabeth (Steele*) Only the names of two of their five children are known for certain. However, the close association of families and land, suggests that they are all descendants of Robert Welles and only Ffrances and Elizabeth have children whose names are not known

* Steele/Steill researcher: Frances McDaid

The family farm, called COW MYERS ( Cowmyres / Cowmiers: date of construction unknown), including at times Galphay Mill and Wood, were occupied by the Wells family into the 19th century. John's gt x 2 auntie Lydia Wells was buried in 1960 at Holy Trinity Church, Ripon (where she had been verger), in the grave of her gt.uncle Stephen Wells, who was born at Cow Myers in 1806. Lydia's sister Gertrude had been the first woman Alderman of Ripon (2)


This is a picture of the main residential farm buildings. In the foreground is the 'old fire house' and part of the 'new fire house' in the background (as described by John's gt x 7 grandfather, Henry WELLS 1639-1716/17, in his will. Henry's father Christopher also referred to an 'old ffire house' in his will signed in 1657). Below is one of the other buildings, Witch-of-the-Woods (once possibly known as Kess Beck) at Cow Myers, which is in a secluded setting near a stream called Kex (Kess) Beck. The word Beck, a stream, is derived from the Old Norse word bekkr. York was once under Norse control and therefore many Yorkshire words/dialect  and place names are related to Danish and other Norse based languages.


Yorkshire locations of the descendants of Robert WELLES include: Plumpton Hall, Studley, Woodhouse nr.Winksley, Azerley (inc. Wesleyan Chapel), Norton le Clay, Norton Conyers, Cundall, Sunley Rains, Grewelthorpe, Misses, Warren Lane, Markington, Nosterfield, North Lees, Thirsk, Little Ouseburn, Wath, Melmerby, West Tanfield, Ripon, Hull and Leeds. Most of the Wells listed in the parish records of Kirkby Malzeard and Ripon Cathedral are descendants of Robert (see Wells baptisms page).


Important sources of information on John's early ancestors and associated families and Land

The Fountains Abbey Lease Book Edited by D.J.H. Michelmore, The Yorkshire Archaeological Society (see below) Record Series Vol CXL, printed 1981.

Vyner Deeds and Masham Peculiar Court Wills West Yorkshire Archive Service (see Leeds Archives link above), Chapeltown Road, Sheepscar, Leeds, LS7 3AP.

A Guide to Historical Sources for Ripon and District Edited by John Hebden, Ripon Historical Society (see link below) and Ripon, Harrogate & District Family History Group, ISBN 1 872618 25 1, printed in 1994 and again in 1995.

Abstracts of the Charters and other documents contained in the Chartulary of the Cistercian Abbey of Fountains Chartulary of Fountains Abbey vols I & II, by William T Lancaster. 1915.

Fountains Abbey and its Benefactors, 1132-1300 by Joan Wardrop, D.Phil. Thesis, University of Oxford, 1980. (Also published by Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan. ISBN 0 87907 891 X. Published 1987. List price in UK (June 2004) £22-95. Available from Marston Book Services Ltd, PO Box 269, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 YN, UK. Telephone: (01235) 465500.



Although we have included some details of the famous WELLES (Alford/Well/Willoughby) we do not feel it is appropriate to devote a large amount of space to them

We know of no living direct descendents of these Welles with the name Well(e)s


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