WELLES, LIONEL, LEO, or LYON de, sixth Baron Welles (1405?–1461), soldier, born about 1405, was son of Eudo de Welles by Maud, daughter of Ralph, lord Greystock. From Adam de Welles, first baron Welles [q. v.], descended John de Welles, fifth baron, summoned to parliament as baron from 20 Jan. 1376 to 26 Feb. 1421, and distinguished in the French and Scottish wars. He died in 1421, leaving by his second wife, Margaret (or Eleanor), daughter of John, lord Mowbray, the son Eudo above-mentioned, who predeceased him. Eudo’s younger son, William, occasionally acted as deputy to his brother when lord lieutenant of Ireland, of which he was in 1465 lord chancellor (O’Flanagan, Lord Chancellors of Ireland).
Lionel, the eldest son, succeeded his grandfather in 1421, was knighted with Henry VI at Leicester by the Duke of Bedford on 19 May 1426, and went with the young king to France in 1430. He was summoned to parliament as sixth Baron Welles from 25 Feb. 1432 to 30 July 1460. In 1434 he became a privy councillor. He was sent to relieve Calais in 1436, when the town was feebly besieged by the Burgundians. He served as lord lieutenant of Ireland from about 1438, and was afterwards specially exempted from acts of resumption, because of the sums owed him by the crown in respect of his expenditure. He was a friend—indeed a connection—of the king, and constantly at court. In 1450 he was appointed a trier of petitions for Gascony and the parts beyond the seas. In 1454 he was stated to be beyond the sea by the king’s commandment. He was probably then at Calais, where he had been sent in 1451, with Lord Rivers; he remained in command as lieutenant of the Duke of Somerset until 20 April 1456, when Warwick secured possession. He was elected K.G. before 13 May 1457. As a Lancastrian he took the oath of allegiance at Coventry in 1459. He joined Margaret of Anjou on her march south, was at the second battle of St. Albans on 7 Feb. 1460–1, and was killed at Towton on 29 March, and attainted in the parliament which followed. He was buried in Waterton church, Methley, Yorkshire.
He married, first, about 1426, Joan (or Cecilia), only daughter of Sir Robert Waterton of Waterton and Methley, and had issue a son, Richard (see below), and four daughters; and, secondly, between 27 May 1444 and 31 Aug. 1447, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Beauchamp of Bletsoe; she was widow of Sir Oliver St. John and of John Beaufort, duke of Somerset, by whom she had had a daughter, the Lady Margaret Beaufort [q. v.]; by her Welles had a son John (see below).
Richard Welles, seventh Baron Welles (1431–1470), son of Lionel, sixth baron, by his first wife, married Joane, daughter of Robert, lord Willoughby de Eresby, and was summoned in her right as Lord Willoughby from 26 May 1455 to 28 Feb. 1466. His first wife died before 1460, and he married secondly Margaret, daughter of Sir James Strangways and widow of John Ingleby, who took the veil in 1475. He was a Lancastrian and present at the second battle of St. Albans (7 Feb. 1460–1), but soon managed to make his peace with Edward, who pardoned him at Gloucester, in the first year of his reign; and so he soon got his family property again, and in 1468 his honours. Doubtless his family connection with the Nevilles helped him. His son Robert, however, took part in Warwick’s plots, and in March 1470 attacked the house of Sir Thomas Borough, a knight of the king’s body, spoiled it, and drove its owner away. Edward now summoned Lord Welles (the father) and his brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Dymock, to London. At first Welles refused to go on the plea of illness; but afterwards went, took sanctuary at Westminster, and then rashly quitted it on promise of pardon. Edward made Welles write to his son telling him to give up Warwick’s cause, and then took him down to Lincolnshire. Angry at the obstinacy of the son, he beheaded Lord Welles and Dymock at Huntingdon. His son then risked a battle near Stamford, but was defeated, taken, and executed on 19 March 1470. His confession is printed in ‘Excerpta Historica’ (pp. 382, &c.). Both father and son were attainted in the parliament of 1475, but the attainders were reversed in the first parliament of Henry VII. Richard Welles left a daughter Joane, who married, first, Richard Piggot of London, and, secondly, before 1470, Sir Richard Hastings. Hastings, in consequence, was afterwards summoned to parliament as Baron Welles, 15 Nov. 1482; he died in 1503, and his widow in 1505, both without issue, and the barony of Welles fell into abeyance between the descendants of Lionel Welles’s four daughters. Sir Robert Welles had married Elizabeth, daughter of John Bourchier, lord Berners. She died a year after his execution, and was buried by his side in Doncaster church. Her will is printed in ‘Testamenta Vetusta.’
John Welles, first Viscount Welles (d. 1499), son of Lionel, sixth baron, by his second wife, was a Lancastrian, but he is mentioned as a watcher at Edward IV’s funeral. He was at the coronation of Richard III, but opposed him at once, and after the insurrection of Buckingham fled to Brittany. He took part in the Bosworth campaign, and was created Viscount Welles by summons to parliament on 1 Sept. 1487. Doubtless as a safe man of the second rank he was allowed to marry, before December 1487, Cecily, daughter of Edward IV, who had been promised to the king of Scotland. He was elected K.G. before 29 Sept. 1488, and died on 9 Feb. 1498–9; he was buried in Westminster Abbey. By his wife Cecily he had two daughters, Elizabeth and Anne, both of whom died young; the viscounty of Welles thus became extinct.[Excerpta Historica, pp. 282, &c.; Rot. Parl. v. 182, &c., vi. 144, 246, &c.; Wars of English in France (Rolls Ser.), ii. 776, 778; Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edw. IV, pp. 113, &c.; Cooper’s Life of the Lady Margaret, p. 6; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, i. 96, &c., ii. 3, &c.; Beaucourt’s Hist. de Charles VII, vi. 47; Gilbert’s Viceroys of Ireland, p. 334; Camden Miscellany, vol. i.; Warkworth’s Chron. (Camd. Soc.), pp. 8, 52, 59; Polydore Vergil (Camd. Soc. transl.), pp. 126, 127; Testamenta Vetusta, p. 310; Ramsay’s Lancaster and York, i. 415, ii. 185, &c.; G. E. C[okayne]’s Peerage; Burke’s Extinct and Dormant Peerage.]
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 60
Welles, Lionel de by William Arthur Jobson Archbold