The Family of Sophy Maria Wells formerly Belsham

I am grateful to Albert Abel for information on James Belsham Wells.

Sophy Maria was born 7 December 1839 and baptised 8 March 1840 at Theydon Mount, a daughter of James Belsham, of Tawney Common, gardener and Sophia formerly Brewitt.

In the 1841 census of Tawney Common, in the home of her parents, Sophia was aged 1 and born in Essex.

In 1851, at High Street, Epping Town (near the chapel), Sophia Belsham was aged 11 and born at Stapleford Tawney.  She was described as a niece and companion to Elizabeth Lee, a widow aged 77 an annuitant born at Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex.  (Is Lucy Eliza Lucy, late Collins, formerly Lee Elizabeth Lee’s daughter?)

In 1861, in the census index , she was aged 23, a servant, at Lee St Margaret, Kent, and born at Tawney, Essex.

She married Jesse Wells. The certificate states that the marriage took place after banns at Knockholt parish church on 22 August 1864. Jesse Wells was aged 22, a labourer of Knockholt and a son of Stephen Wells, a labourer. Sophia was aged 24 and of Knockholt, a daughter of James Belsham, a gardener. The witnesses were George Wells, Stephen Wells, Mary Ann Blundell and Frances E. Belsham.

In 1871, at 40 Tylney Road, Bromley, Jessie (sic) was aged 29, a carpenter born at Knockholt, Sophia, his wife, was aged 31 and born at Tawney, Essex and James B, their son, was aged 4 and born at Bromley.  There were also two lodgers.

In 1877 Sophia Wells, the wife of Jesse Wells, builder, was living in Bromley.

In the 1881 census, Jesse Wells and his wife Sophia M were living at 4 Tylney Road, Bromley, Kent. They were aged 39 and 41 and born at Knockholt, Kent, and Stapleford Tawney, Essex respectively. Jesse was a carpenter and builder employing 3 men. With them were four children, Lilly M (9, born Bromley), Earnest J (5, Bromley), Lizie A (3, Bromley), and Leonard R (1, Bromley). There was also a general servant, Emily Coborne, aged 13, born at Otford.

In 1885 Sophia received a bequest of £500 from the estate of Lucy Eliza Lucy.

In the census of 1891, at 7 Bayham Road, Sevenoaks, Jesse was aged 49, a carpenter and builder born at Knockholt.  His wife, Sophia M. was aged 51 and born at Stapleford Tawney.  Their children were Lily M aged 19, a postal clerk, Lizzie A, aged 18 a dressmaker’s apprentice, and Leonard R aged 10.  All were born in Bromley.  There was also two boarders, Rachel Howland and Alice Howland, aged 55 and 20 respectively.

In 1901, at 29 Coleden Road, Sevenoaks, Jesse was aged 58, a joiner and decorator, (an employer working from home), born at Knockholt, Kent. Sophy Wells was aged 61, born at Tawney, Essex. With them was their married son Ernest, aged 25, a carpenter, (employee, working at home), daughter-in-law Blanch, aged 22, born at Dover, and grandchildren Mildred aged 2, born Sevenoaks, and Victoria aged 1 and born at Acton, Middx.

There is a death registration for Jesse Wells in the Sevenoaks district in the June quarter 1905.  He was aged 63.


In 1911 (Index) in the Sevenoaks district, Sophy was aged 71 and had no-one surnamed Wells living with her.

Sophy and Jesse's children were:

  1. James Belsham Wells, born on 26 Jan 1867 in Widsmore, Bromley, Kent.  In the census of 1881 he may have been boarding with Stammers family, at Frugal Cottage, east Molesey, Surrey.  He was aged 14 but was born in Winchelsey, Kent.  However there is no James B Wells born around Winchelsea between 1865 and 1868 in the GRO birth indexes (freebmd).  He was a carpenter and joiner when Lilly May was born. He emigrated to Australia and married Elizabeth Harriett Noyes (born on 7 Aug 1871 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) on 2 Jan 1888 in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.. Family information suggested that James returned to England with his family, to serve in the military forces. After his death (?) the family returned to Australia. No military records have been found to date (24 Jun. 2004).    In the census of 1901 this Wells family, without JB Wells, were at the Bromley Union Workhouse. It is presumed that he was attending to military matters, according to the family. He was apparently killed in action, prior to the family's return to Australia sometime before September 1904. No verification has been established, yet.  Another source of family information suggests that he deserted his family and disappeared.  Elizabeth died on 25 Feb 1928 in Brisbane Qld.  James Belsham Wells and Elizabeth Harriett had the following children:
    1. Leonard Belsham Wells, born 1 July 1889 in Brisbane, Australia. He was still alive in October 1953.
    2. Lilly May Wells (1891 - 1953), born 7 May 1891 in Acacia Street, Killarney, Queensland, Australia. She married Phillip John Abel in 1907. She died 2 October 1953 in Brisbane, Queensland.
    3. Ethel Blanche Wells (1893 - 1969), born 31 October 1893 in Killarney, Glengallan, Queensland, Australia. She died 3 September 1969 in Sydney, New South Wales and is buried in Killarney Cemetery, Queensland.
    4. Ivy Sophy Wells, born 14 August 1895.
    5. Florence Maud Wells, born 1899 (no birth registration in Queensland, may have been born in England?).
    6. Cyril James Wells, born 25 May 1900 in Kensington, England. He enlisted in the military 2 May 1942 in Rockhampton, Queensland, service number Q186606.

There were further children born to Elizabeth Harriet Noyes after she and her children returned to Australia - Evelyn, born 13 June 1905 in Country, Queensland, and Francis Henry, born 18 March 1910 in Country, Queensland, and she married again in 1914.

  1. Lily May Wells, birth registered in the December quarter of 1871 in the district of Bromley.
  2. Ernest Jesse Wells, birth registered in the June quarter of 1875 in the district of Bromley. He married Blanch and their children were
    1. Mildred Wells, born about 1899 at Sevenoaks
    2. Victoria Wells, born about 1900 at Acton
  3. Lizzie Agnes Wells, birth registered in the June quarter of 1877 in the district of Bromley. She married Edward John Pease-Ephgrave in the September quarter of 1896 in the Dover district. In the 1901 census of 26 Priory Road, Acton, living in 4 rooms, she was aged 23 and born in Bromley, Kent. With her were her husband, Edward John Ephgrave aged 24, assistant schoolmaster (worker) and born at Dover and their children Edward John aged 4 born at Poplar and Constance Sophy aged 1 and born at Acton. There was also a brother of Edward, William David Ephgrave aged 15, a baker (worker), born at Dover. Lizzie and Edward's children were:
    1. Edward John Ephgrave, born about 1896 at Poplar.
    2. Constance Sophy Ephgrave, born about 1899 at Acton.
  4. Leonard Ralph Wells, birth registered in the September quarter of 1879 in the district of Bromley.

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Posted October 2009