Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Thomas Welles, Governor of Connecticut

Male Abt 1590 - 1660  (~ 70 years)


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  • Name Thomas Welles  [1
    Suffix Governor of Connecticut 
    Born Abt 1590  [2
    Gender Male 
    Died 14 Jan 1660  Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3, 4
    Person ID I18826  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of DDB
    Last Modified 15 Nov 2020 

    Father Robert Welles,   b. Bef 6 Nov 1540,   d. Bef 24 Sep 1617  (Age < 76 years) 
    Mother Alice,   d. Aft 5 Jul 1615 
    Family ID F11414  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Alice Tomes,   d. Bef 1646, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married Aft 5 Jul 1615  [2, 3
    Children 
    +1. Sarah Welles,   b. Abt 1633,   d. 12 Dec 1698, Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 65 years)
    Last Modified 2 Dec 2018 
    Family ID F11413  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Elizabeth,   d. 28 Jul 1683 
    Married Abt 1646  [2
    Last Modified 2 Dec 2018 
    Family ID F11416  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Emigrated about 1635, first briefly at Cambridge, then in Hartford in 1636. His name is on the Founders Monument in downtown Hartford.

      He was the only person in Connecticut history to hold all four top offices: governor, deputy governor, treasurer, and secretary. "He was chosen a magistrate of the Colony of Connecticut in 1637, an office he held every successive year until his death in 1660, a period of twenty-two years. He was elected deputy governor in 1654, and governor of the Connecticut Colony in 1655, and in 1656 and 1657 was deputy governor to John Winthrop the Younger; in 1658 governor, and in 1659 deputy governor, which position he held at his death." [Wikipedia]

      Governor Winthrop wrote that Thomas Welles died "very sudainly, being very well at supper and dead before midnight."

      From Hale, House and Related Families by Donald Lines Jacobus (citation details below):

      The importance of genealogy to historical study has sometimes been sneered at, but so far as we are aware, the part which the Welles genealogy played in the obtaining of Connecticut's Charter has never been told. After the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660, both Connecticut and New Haven, neither colony then having any legal status except such as the suffrage of their own freemen gave them, hastened to apply for a royal charter. New Haven was suspected, and justly, by the new monarch, of having harbored the "regicides," and not only failed to obtain a charter, but found its territory included in the Connecticut Charter of 1662.

      The statesmanship of Gov. John Winthrop has been deservedly praised for his success in obtaining this liberal charter from the king. It is to be taken for granted that Winthrop played every card which he held in his hand. Thomas and Alice (Tomes) Welles were then dead, but their family still lived in the colony, and one of Winthrop's aces must have been the fact that Mrs. Welles's [half-] brother, John Tomes, had given refuge to the king when he was a fugitive. This is not mere theory; it can be demonstrated by a study of the names of the nineteen men who were specified in the charter itself as patentees.

      Of these, Thomas Welles was the eldest surviving son of Gov. Thomas and Alice (Tomes) Welles; Anthony Howkins was their son-in-law; and John Deming was brother of Gov. Welles's second wife. The wife of Samuel Welles, youngest son of Alice Tomes, whom he married only in 1659, was granddaughter of Richard Treat, another patentee, who was father- in-law both of John Deming, already mentioned, and of Matthew Campfield, still another patentee. Thus five out of the nineteen, more than a fourth of the patentees, were closely connected with the Welles family. That this heavy representation was not a matter of chance is deduced from the fact that the younger Thomas Welles before he was named in the charter had never held any civil post in the colonial government, while Howkins, although elected a Deputy for half a dozen terms, had not at that time been promoted to the "Upper House" as a Governor's Assistant. With them, at any rate, we may conclude that the Tomes connection, and the use Winthrop made of the king's gratitude, were the reasons why they were named as patentees. We may conclude further that the Welles-Tomes connection with Connecticut Colony was one of the aces which Winthrop providentially found in his hand when he negotiated the Royal Charter. The people of New Haven Colony might treasonably shelter the regicides, but Winthrop could point out that the uncle of Mr. Welles and Mrs. Howkins had proved his loyalty when the king was in deperate straits, and that the people of Connecticut were generally of that stripe. And Connecticut received a charter which included the territory of New Haven as well! Decidedly, "genealogy is the handmaid of history," -- when it is the Welles genealogy.

  • Sources 
    1. [S4958] Genealogical Notes of the Families of Chester of Blaby by Edmond Chester-Waters. Leicester: Clarke and Hodgson, 1886.

    2. [S101] The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volumes 1-3 and The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England,1634-1635, Volumes 1-7, by Robert Charles Anderson. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1996-2011.

    3. [S2500] Lemuel Aiken Welles, "The English Ancestry of Gov. Thomas Welles of Connecticut." The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 80:279, Jul 1926.

    4. [S387] Hale, House and Related Families, Mainly of the Connecticut River Valley by Donald Lines Jacobus and Edgar Francis Waterman. Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut Historical Society, 1952.