Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Welles, Adam de

WELLES or WELLE, ADAM de, Baron (d. 1311), was the son of William de Welle and his wife, Isabella de Vesci (Dugdale, Baronage, ii. 10). The family took its name from the manor of Well, near Alford in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, in which neighbourhood nearly all its estates lay; but later and more famous members of it adopted the surname Welles, though in earlier times they were more commonly described as Welle. The earliest of the family mentioned in Dugdale flourished under Richard I. William, Adam's father, paid fine in 1279 for his knighthood to be postponed for three years (Parl. Writs, i. 220). He was still alive in May 1286, when he nominated attorneys on going beyond seas with Hugh le Despenser (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281–92, p. 248). Eight years later Adam also appointed attorneys on 14 June 1294 for a year on going beyond seas with Hugh le Despenser (ib. 1292–1301, p. 73), who then went to Gascony. On 16 Jan. 1297 he acquired lands at Cumberworth, and the advowson of Anderby, Lincolnshire, from William de Willoughby (ib. p. 229). In March of the same year he was appointed, with the sheriff of Lincolnshire, to receive into the king's protection clerks who wished to dissociate themselves from Archbishop Winchelsea's resistance to clerical taxation (ib. p. 239; Fœdera, i. 875). Before this he had become a knight. On 7 July he was ordered to muster in London for a fresh term of foreign service, but he was soon back in England, for on 1 Jan. 1298 he received letters of protection until Christmas as being about to accompany the king to Scotland (Scotland in 1298, p. 36). He served through the Falkirk campaign with his brother Philip, and fought in the battle (ib. pp. 145–72). In 1299 he was made constable of Rockingham Castle and warden of its forest (Abbreviatio Rot. Orig. i. 103). He was first of his house summoned as a baron to attend the parliament of March 1299 (Parl. Writs, i. 899), after which he was regularly called until his death. He was summoned with equal regularity to serve against the Scots, and on 14 Jan. 1300 was one of the knights appointed to raise the Lincolnshire tenants of the crown; and in the same year fought with Edward I at the siege of Carlaverock. He was present at the Lincoln parliament of February 1301, and signed the famous letter of the barons to the pope. In 1303 he was again summoned against the Scots (Fœdera, i. 948). However in February 1304 he seems to have been rebuked by the king for his remissness against the Scots (Hist. Doc. Scotland, ii. 470).

Adam bought of John de Holland, who died soon after, the manor of Wyberton, near Boston (cf. Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1301–7, p. 209; Memoranda de Parliamento, Rolls Ser. pp. 70–2). Under Edward II Welles was in 1309 (Fœdera, ii. 78) and in 1310 engaged on the king's service in Scotland, being allowed in the latter year a respite of his debts to the crown until Christmas (Cal. Close Rolls, 1307–13, p. 298). He was also granted lands worth 42l. a year in Lincolnshire (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1307–13). His last summons to parliament was on 16 June 1311 (Parl. Writs, ii. 1597), in which year he died.

His wife Joan, who was jointly seised with him of the manor of Wyberton, survived him. His estates at the time of his death are enumerated in ‘Calendarium Inquisitionum post mortem,’ i. 247–8. Save a small property in Northamptonshire, they were all in Lincolnshire, including the whole or parts of seventeen manors, five and a half knights' fees, and five advowsons.

His eldest son, Robert, succeeded to the lands. He had two younger sons, Adam and John, who in 1319 were declared to have equal rights of succession to Wyberton with their elder brother. Robert was never summoned to parliament, and died in 1320 without issue from his wife. Adam (d. 1345) then succeeded, and was summoned as a baron from 1332 to 1343. His direct descendants in the male line continued to hold the barony until the latter part of the fifteenth century [see Welles, Lionel de, sixth Baron].

[Parliamentary Writs, vols. i. and ii.; Calendarium Rotulorum Cartarum; Rymer's Fœdera, vols. i. and ii.; Calendars of Patent and Close Rolls; Rolls of Parliament; Memoranda de Parliamento, 1305 (Rolls Ser.); Nicolas's Siege of Carlaverock, pp. 32, 206–7; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 10–11.]

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