WELLES, John (by 1485-1515/18), of New Windsor, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1485, prob. d.s.p.4

Offices Held

Commr. gaol delivery, Windsor 1506, subsidy 1515; warden, guild of the Holy Trinity bef. 1511.5


Little has come to light about John Welles save that he had close ties with Windsor, at any rate during his later years. He probably lived there, to judge from his inclusion in the commission of gaol delivery in 1506 and from the pardon of 1511 to his successors as wardens of the guild of the Holy Trinity, a body identical in all but name with the town council. That Welles had property in the town is shown by the petition which his executor William Gretham addressed to Wolsey in Chancery before May 1518 claiming a tenement and various goods belonging to Welles, worth £10 a year, which had been seized by the mayor and bailiffs to meet unpaid debts.6

No widow or other relative is mentioned in Gretham’s suit, so that it is unlikely that the Member left children, although his name was preserved at Windsor by an 18 year-old of the town admitted to King’s College, Cambridge, as a scholar from Eton in 1547 and by men included in subsidy assessments there under Elizabeth. Among contemporaries elsewhere were an alderman of Norwich and a Staffordshire gentleman, as well as an official of the royal household who had sat for Bodmin in 1491. The presumed identification of this last with John Welles of Windsor appears to rest on his association in a grant of 1489 with a John Dalyland who was Welles’s fellow warden of the Holy Trinity at Windsor, but Dalyland’s name does not appear in that grant.7

The Members for Windsor in the first three Parliaments of Henry VIII are known only from a book of chamberlains’ accounts or from transcriptions of these and other records, now lost, made by Elias Ashmole in the 17th century. Ashmole names Welles as a Member of the Parliament of 1510 with William Pury. His Membership of the next Parliament is attested both by Ashmole and by the chamberlains’ accounts, which on 13 Jan. 1514 record the payment to Welles and Thomas Rider of 40s. for their expenses. It is not clear whether each was paid that sum, but if so the payment probably related to the second session of this Parliament, which lasted, from 4 Nov. to 20 Dec. 1512. Ashmole records a further payment of 40s. to Rider and Welles during the sixth year of the reign (April 1514 to April 1515), while the chamberlains’ accounts for that year include payments to them of 29s.6d., and 10s.4d.; these could equally well have been for either the third session of the Parliament of 1512 (23 Jan to 4 Mar. 1514) or the first session of the next one (5 Feb. to 5 Apr. 1515). A surer sign that Rider and Welles had sat in both Parliaments is a sum of 14s. sum given to Rider and Welles ‘in full payment’, ascribed by Ashmole to the seventh year of the reign but entered in the chamberlains’ accounts of the following year. Unless other payments went unrecorded it seems that the Members were given instalments at irregular intervals and that their remuneration fell far below the statutory rate of 2s. a day, not even reaching the reduced rate of 1s. which seems to have become established at Windsor by Mary’s reign.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. R. R. Tighe and J. E. Davis, Windsor Annals, i. 500.
  • 2. Ibid. i. 465; Windsor recs. Wi/FA c. 1, f. 6v.
  • 3. Tighe and Davis, i. 474; Windsor recs. Wi/FA c. 1, ff. 7v, 9v.
  • 4. Date of birth estimated from first reference. C1/413/57.
  • 5. CPR, 1494-1509, p. 487; Windsor Wi/FA c. 1, f. 7; LP Hen. VIII, i.
  • 6. VCH Berks. iii. 59-60; C1/413/57.
  • 7. E179/74/217, 221, 233; HP ed. Wedgwood, 1439-1509 (Biogs.), 929; LP Hen. VIII, i; CPR, 1485-94, p. 293.
  • 8. Tighe and Davis, i. 500; Bodl. Ashmole 1126, f. 23; Windsor recs. Wi/FA c.1, ff. 6v., 7v, 9v.