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This follows the direct family line of Claris Wells, who we met last week, tracing it from his great-great-great grandfather John Wells, who was born around 1660, and ending with his great-great grandson Brett, born in 1960. As we travel through history, we can see how family naming traditions were maintained, and altered, and how fashions in names changed during these three hundred years.

The Children of John and Elizabeth Wells (m. 1681) – Claris’ great-great-great grandparents, who came from Kent

John (1699-1709)

Thomas (b. 1703)

Robert (b. 1706)

Alexander (1709-1784)

John (1710-1800)

Elizabeth (b. 1714)

The Children of Alexander and Martha Wells (m. 1733) – Claris’ great-great grandparents

Elizabeth (1736-1737)

John (b. 1738)

Thomas (1740-1816)

Alexander (b. 1741)

Martha (1743-1743)

Robert (1745-1745)

Robert (1746-1812)

The Children of Alexander and Elizabeth Wells (m. 1764) – Claris great grandparents

Rose (1764-1829)

Thomas (b. 1766)

Thomas (b. 1773)

Mary Ann (b. 1774)

The Children of Thomas and Sarah Wells (m. before 1812) – Claris’ grandparents

Thomas (b. 1812)

Sarah (b. 1814)

John (b. 1816)

Alexander (1817-1863)

The Children of Alexander and Caroline Emily Wells (m. circa 1850) – Claris’ parents, who left Kent in 1857 and emigrated to Western Australia

Martha (1852-1936)

Alexander Thomas (b. 1855)

Alfred John Claris (1857-1937)

Amelia Ann (b. 1858)

Ellen – known as Eliza (1859-1937)

Emily (b. 1862)

Alexander (b. 1864)

The Children of Claris and Sarah Jane Wells (m. 1877) – Claris and his wife

Susan Maud (1878-1878)

Sarah Mary (1879-1952)

Alexander James (1881-1921)

Susannah Maud (1884-1972)

Eva Emily (1886-1943)

Clarence Alfred (1892-1953)

The Children of Clarence Alfred and Margot Linton Wells (m. ?) – Claris’ son and daughter-in-law

Douglas Howie (b. ?)

Hugo Clarence (b. 1919)

Undine Margot (b. 1921)

Bruce Alexander (1922-1927)

Ivor Stewart (b. 1925)

Marcus James Pierce (b. 1928)

Roderick Ramon (1932-1933)

Twins Rodney Brian and Neville Brice (b. 1933)

Haidee Clare (b. 1935)

Harold George (?)

The Children of Neville Brice and Dolores Wells (m. ?) – Claris’ grandson and granddaughter-in-law; their children are his great-great grandchildren

Donna Dianne (b. 1954)

Vicki Suzanne (b. 1955)

Kerry Janette (b. 1956)

Debbie Lee (b. 1958)

Gregory Mark (b. 1959)

Brett Ramon (b. 1960)

The records end in 1960 – I presume because we are now in the realm of living Wells family members who would like their privacy protected.

You can see how important handing down family names was, with the name of their direct ancestor, Alexander, being used in every generation until the 1950s. Claris Wells was the first not to use the name Thomas amongst his children, but he did start his own naming tradition. He named his son Clarence, and his grandson had Clarence as his middle name. This is another family tradition which didn’t last into the post-war era.

It also seemed to be a tradition for the names of children who did not survive to be used again for later siblings. This is something which has definitely gone out of fashion. You can see it changing with Claris‘ children, for his first child Susan did not live a year, and he gave his daughter Susannah a variation of her name instead of the name itself. Two of Claris‘ grandsons died young, Bruce and Roderick, but their names were not recycled for future siblings (although they did have a Rodney).

The “Alexander” branch of the family ended up in Western Australia, and another branch went to Canada, so the Wells family spread far from England. However, one branch of the family did remain in the Sevenoaks district of Kent, and stayed there until quite recently. The youngest Wellses in the records are a brother and sister in their early twenties, living in England.

One interesting thing I discovered by chance is that the Wells family has some distant connection with the Armytages of Como House, who we met in an earlier blog entry. It’s either a small world, or a small country.

Next week we will conclude the Wells family saga with some of the names from other branches of the family.

(The painting is of Toodyay, Greenmount, by Edward du Cane – 1854; image from the National Gallery of Australia)