WELLES, John I (d.1418), of Maldon, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Sept. 1388

Family and Education

m. bef. July 1383, Katherine; 2s. illegit.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Maldon Jan. 1384-5, 1387-8, 1397-8, 1404-5, 1407-8, 1409-10, 1412-13, 1414-15, 1417-18; wardman 1386-7.2

Tax collector, Essex Dec. 1407.


In 1383 Welles and his wife made a quitclaim of land in Great Saling, Essex, to the vicar there, and from then on they lived at Maldon. In 1386 he obtained a lease of the town quay, and three years later he paid £2 5 s. rent for houses elsewhere in the town. Meanwhile he had acquired a third part of four messuages, three tofts and four acres there. With John Glover* he became a feoffee of local property for John Burgess* in 1395, and in association with Burgess he held the common pasture and a marsh on a lease for £4 p.a. from 1402 to 1407. He subsequently purchased other properties in Maldon, notably a 14 acre field called ‘Foursende’.3 A merchant, Welles traded with Middleburg in the Netherlands, dealing in bitumen, timber and cloth. In 1392 he and Thomas Maldon brought a plea of debt in Colchester borough court, following the failure of an agreement for the exchange of a consignment of cheese for woollen cloth and thread.4

In June 1386 Welles was arrested with other men of Maldon after they had attacked servants of Walter, Lord Fitzwalter. He had already served a term as bailiff, and his re-election to office eight more times over a period of 31 years is clear indication of his prominent place in local affairs. In addition he was elected one of the overseers of repairs to Hey bridge in 1389, and as an assistant to the bailiff in 1394. Having been party to the bishop of London’s grant of a charter of privileges to the borough in October 1403, he was chosen bailiff the following January when the office was divided for the first time. During his third term he had appeared as a mainpernor for John Glover at the parliamentary elections of 1397 (Jan.), and he subsequently acted similarly for John Flower in 1406 and 1411. He was keeper of the keys of the common chest with Glover in 1416-17.5

Welles died shortly after the end of his bailiffship of 1417-18.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: K.N. Houghton


  • 1. Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 197; CPR, 1422-9, p. 510.
  • 2. Essex RO, Maldon ct. bk. i. ff. 1-17; ct. roll 9.
  • 3. Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 197, 208, 224, 239; ct. bk. i. ff. IV, 5v, 11, 14; custumal, f. 266v.
  • 4. E101/342/16; E122/193/33, ff. 17-18, 27-28, 226/79; Colchester Moot Hall, ct. roll 27 m. 20.
  • 5. CPR, 1385-9, p. 179; 1401-5, p. 309; ct. bk. i. ff. 5, 6; custumal f. 7v; ct. roll 10 m. 2; C219/9/12, 10/3, 6.
  • 6. E368/190 m. 117v.