William Welles

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Sir William Welles (1409/10 – 1461) was an English-born statesman and judge in fifteenth-century Ireland, who held the office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was the younger brother of Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles, a prominent supporter of the House of Lancaster, who was killed at the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461.[1]


William was born in about 1409 or 1410, the second son of Eudo de Welles and Maud de Greystoke. His paternal grandparents were John de Welles, 5th Baron Welles and Eleanor de Mowbray. Eudo died before his father, and William's brother Lionel succeeded his grandfather as the sixth baron in 1421.


Lionel was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland about 1438, and William accompanied him to Ireland, where he acted as his brother's deputy; he was appointed Deputy Lord Chancellor in 1454 and Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1461.[2] Unlike his brother he does not seem to have been particularly active on behalf of Henry VI, and despite Lionel's death, and the family's strong links to the House of Lancaster, he was still in office a year after the Battle of Towton, which brought about the final downfall of Henry VI. This suggests that the victorious King Edward IV, who was generally magnanimous towards his former opponents, provided that they were prepared to give their loyalty to him, took no action against him. He was killed at the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461.[3] His main residence was at Posseckstown, near Enfield, County Meath.


William married Anne Barnewall, of the prominent landowning Barnewall family of Crickstown, County Meath. There are references in different sources to a son and three daughters. Little is known of his son, who seems to have died young and without issue: the daughters were -

1. Elizabeth (died 1506): she married fiirstly Christopher Plunket, second Baron Killeen, and secondly James Fleming, 7th Baron Slane, and had at least three children.

By her first husband she had two daughters:

-and by her second husband a son:

2. Ismay, who married Thomas Nangle, 15th Baron of Navan and had issue including:

3. Catherine, who married Walter Cheevers (or Chever) and had issue.


  1. ^ Ross, Charles Edward IV Eyre Methuen London 1974
  2. ^ Ball F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926
  3. ^ Possibly he survived and died in 1463
  4. ^ Cokayne The Complete Peerage