John, 1st Viscount Welles

Soldier John Welles, 1st Viscount Welles, K.G. was buried in Westminster Abbey and early tomb lists say he was buried in the north part of the old (1220) Lady Chapel. Many coffins were removed when the chapel was rebuilt from 1503 by Henry VII. It has been suggested that a decorated lead coffin, in an anthropoid shape, which was uncovered on the south side of this chapel during recent excavations for a new structure might be his displaced coffin. This has a raised cross design, imitating ropework, and six floriated motifs.

William Camden, in his guide published in 1600, records the following (translated from the Latin):

John, Viscount Welles, Knight of the Order of St George, who took to wife Cecily, daughter of Edward IV, died without issue and is buried at Westminster

But he gives no epitaph.

His life

He was a son of Leo, 6th Baron Welles and his second wife Margaret Beauchamp, and was a half brother of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. By Cecily he had two daughters Anne and Elizabeth but both died before him. He was knighted by Henry Tudor when he landed in Wales and fought at the battle of Bosworth. Justice of the Peace, constable of Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire and Master Forester of Rockingham he was also granted the castles of Caerleon and Usk for life. He died on 9th February 1499. Cicely, born in 1469, married secondly Thomas Kyme and died in 1507.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


9th February 1499




Lady Chapel

Memorial Type


A shaped decorated lead coffin lid
Lead coffin lid possibly associated with Welles

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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