John Welles, 1st Viscount Welles

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Arms of Sir John Welles, 1st Viscount Welles, KG

John (de) Welles, 1st Viscount Welles, KG (c. 1450 – 9 February 1498) was an English Lancastrian nobleman who was made a Knight of the Garter.

House of Lancaster English noble family

The House of Lancaster was the name of two cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet. The first house was created when Henry III of England created the Earldom of Lancaster—from which the house was named—for his second son Edmund Crouchback in 1267. Edmund had already been created Earl of Leicester in 1265 and was granted the lands and privileges of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, after de Montfort's death and attainder at the end of the Second Barons' War. When Edmund's son Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, inherited his father-in-law's estates and title of Earl of Lincoln he became at a stroke the most powerful nobleman in England, with lands throughout the kingdom and the ability to raise vast private armies to wield power at national and local levels. This brought him—and Henry, his younger brother—into conflict with their cousin Edward II of England, leading to Thomas's execution. Henry inherited Thomas's titles and he and his son, who was also called Henry, gave loyal service to Edward's son—Edward III of England.


John was born about 1450 to Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles and Margaret Beauchamp. He was a maternal half-brother of Margaret Beaufort, and thus an uncle of the half-blood of Henry VII.

Margaret Beauchamp was the oldest daughter of Sir John Beauchamp, de jure 3rd Baron Beauchamp of Bletsoe, and his second wife, Edith Stourton. She was the maternal grandmother of Henry VII.

Lady Margaret Beaufort Mother of King Henry VII

Lady Margaret Beaufort was the mother of King Henry VII and paternal grandmother of King Henry VIII of England.

Henry VII of England King of England, 1485–1509

Henry VII was the King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizure of the crown on 22 August 1485 to his death. He was the first monarch of the House of Tudor.

John died and was buried in February 1498 in Westminster, England.

War of the Roses

John's father, Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles, was slain at the Battle of Towton in 1461, and his elder half-brother, Richard Welles, 7th Baron Welles, inherited the Welles barony. Richard Welles and his son and heir, Robert Welles, 8th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, were both beheaded in March 1470 for involvement in an uprising against Edward IV in Lincolnshire. After the death of Robert Welles, the Welles barony was inherited, in her own right, by his only sister, Joan Welles. However shortly after Joan Welles' death in about 1474/5, both her father, Richard Welles, and her brother, Robert Welles, were attainted by Act of Parliament, five years after their executions. As a result of the attainders, John Welles was not able to enjoy the title to the Welles barony until the attainders were reversed by Parliament under Henry VII. [1]

Battle of Towton 1461 battle in the English Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Towton was fought on 29 March 1461 during the English Wars of the Roses, near the village of Towton in Yorkshire. A culminating battle in the dynastic struggles between the houses of Lancaster and York for control of the English throne, the engagement ended in an overwhelming victory for the Yorkists. It brought about a change of monarchs in England, with the victor, the Yorkist Edward IV having displaced the Lancastrian Henry VI as king, and thus driving the head of the Lancastrians and his key supporters out of the country.

Richard Welles, 7th Baron Welles (c.1428–1470), was an English nobleman and soldier. From a Lancastrian family, he came to be on good terms with the Yorkist King Edward IV, but was later executed after being associated with a plot against Edward known as the "Welles Uprising".

Robert Welles, 8th Baron Willoughby de Eresby and 8th Baron Welles, was the son of Richard Welles, 7th Baron Welles, and Joan Willoughby, 7th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby. He was the prime mover in an uprising against Edward IV in 1470, although his actions were possibly orchestrated by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

A pardon in 1478 did not prevent Welles from participating in Buckingham's rebellion. He escaped to his nephew, the future Henry VII, in Brittany after its collapse. Henry knighted him on 7 August 1485 and he was created Viscount sometime between 15 July and 25 November 1486 [2] and given substantial grants.

Buckingham's rebellion was a failed but significant uprising, or collection of uprisings, of October 1483 in England and parts of Wales against Richard III of England.


Some time in December 1487 John married Princess Cecily of York, the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, making him a member of the Royal Family. Princess Cecily of York was born on 20 March 1469 in Westminster, England and died on 24 August 1507 either on the Isle of Wight or at Hatfield. The apparent aim of Henry VII was to reward his uncle for loyalty and keep Cecily from marrying a more ambitious man. John and Cecily had two children, Elizabeth Welles (c. 1489–1498) and Anne Welles (c. 1491 – c. 1499).

Cecily of York English princess

Cecily of York, Viscountess Welles was an English princess and the third, but eventual second surviving, daughter of Edward IV, King of England and his queen consort Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. She was First Lady of the Bedchamber to the queen in 1485–1487.

Edward IV of England 15th-century King of England

Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist king.

Elizabeth Woodville 15th-century Queen consort of England

Elizabeth Woodville was Queen consort of England, as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483.

He died 9 February 1498 in London. Anne died soon after. His will is as follows:

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

1499 June 22, The Will of John, Lord Welles

In the name of oure Lorde Jeshu, Amen. I, John, Viscounte lorde Wellis, uncle to the Kynge, oure soveraigne lorde, and brodre to the right noble prynces, Margaret, countes of Richemond, naturall and dere modre to oure said soveregne lord, beyng of goode and hole memory, ye viij daie of February, the yere of oure Lorde God 1498, and in the xiiij yere of the regne of our saide soverayne lorde, make this my testament. My bodie to be buried in suche place as [to] the kynge, the quene, my lady, his moder, and my lady, my wife, shalbe thought, most convenyent, and the costis and charge of the same burying, the obsequyes, masses, funeralles and all oder thynges therto convenyent and necessarie. And also I remyt the makyng of my tumbe to the ordre and discrecionn of my saide soverayne lady the quene, my lady his modre, and my wife. And after these charges and costis aforesaid had and done, l will that all the dettis nowe by me dewe or to be dewe be treuly contented and paied. And I will that to the honour of Almighty God in the aulter afore which my bodie shall next lie my executors shall delyver a pair of candelstickes of silver, a masse booke covered with clothe of goolde, a chales of silver and gilte, a vestament of blewe velvet enbrodered with my armes, a pair of litle cruettes of silver and parcellis gilte, and a crosse of silver p[arcell] gilt, which 1 will do remayne there to serve Almyghty God with for ever and in noo oder place. Also I geve and bequethe to my dere beloved lady and wife Cecille, for terme of her lif , all my castelles, manors, landes and tenements, aswell suche as I have purchased as all odre duryng only her life, whome I trust above all oder, that if my goodes and catallis wilnot suffice for the performance of this my laste will, that she will thenne of the revenues of the profittes of my inheritance perform this my laste will. Also I will that a preste be founde for ever after my said wifes decease to sey masse daily for my sowle and all Cristen sowles at the said aulter of the yerely revenues of my purchased landes, and over which my saide lady hath promysed me faithfully to purchase to the same entent if my saide purchased landes suffice not therto. And I will yt suche residue as shall fortune to be of my goodes that my saide dere beloved lady aud wife have theym to her owne use. And I make executors the saide Cecill, my dere beloved wife, and Sr Raynold Bray, knyght, and in my mooste humble wise beseche my said soverayne lorde the kyng and the quenes grace, my lady the kynges modre, to be supervisours [3]

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  1. Richardson IV 2011, p. 339.
  2. CPR 1485-1494, pg. 491
  3. Probate Copy (22 June date is the date of Probate, not the date of the Will) - pers.comm. J.L. Knapp "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 April 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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Viscount Welles
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