William WELLS – Regimental Sgt Major Instructor

Wrexham Cemetery 01/04/2019

by Annette Edwards.

WILLIAM WELLS c 1833 – 1884.

ELLEN WELLS 1835 – 1903

William Wells was born in Ashburton, Devon about 1833 and according to his marriage certificate his father was William Wells an engineer.  The first time William is found for sure is after he married Ellen Brown on 15 November 1858 at St Nicholas, Plumstead, Kent. His occupation was “musician”. Ellen`s father was Francis Brown a pensioner. 

Ellen was baptised on 29 March 1835 at Woolwich, her father was then a private in the Marines. Her mother was Mary. It must have been a noisy day in the Church as there were 9 baptisms entered, most of the fathers were Marines. By 1851 Francis had left the Marines and was on a pension but still in Woolwich, Ellen was still at home.   

After their marriage they stayed in Woolwich   and by 1861 have a young daughter Ellen aged 4 months, William is still a musician.  By 1871 they are at the Royal Marine Barracks in Deal, Kent.

William is now a   drum major RSMI (Regimental Sgt Major Instructor) they have another 2 daughters, Harriet 8 and Adelaide R aged 6. Another daughter Flora was born in 1872.

William and his family moved up to Wrexham in 1873 after serving in the Royal Marines for 21 years and in 1875 another daughter, Jane was born. In March 1877 at the MEETING OF THE SCHOOL BOARD. A list of defaulters, consisting almost entirely of irregular attenders was submitted, one named was William Wells, bandmaster, 4, Bury-street, girl (12) not in school.

In 1881 they were at 6 Stanley Street, only Harriet, Flora and Jane were still at home.

William died on the 5 February 1884 and was given a grand funeral.

MILITARY FUNERAL. The remains of the late Sergeant-Drummer William Wells, 3rd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, were interred with military honours in the New Cemetery. The deceased, who was fifty years of age, formerly served for 21 years in the Royal Marines, from which corps he was transferred in 1873 to the then Royal Denbigh as bugle-major. He has been ill for some time with chronic bronchitis. The disease afterwards turned to consumption, and he died on the morning of the fifth instant, leaving a wife and the children to mourn his loss. The funeral party, consisting of the Permanent Staff of the 3rd Battalion , a  firing party of one sergeant, one corporal  and 18 privates, together with the non- officers and men off duty of the Depot Royal Welsh Fusiliers, paraded in the square  at half-past two o’clock p.m., and  after  having been inspected and three rounds of blank cartridge served out to each man of the firing  party, were marched to the residence of the deceased  in Albert Street, Hightown, and formed up, in  processional order under  command of Quartermaster Perris. The coffin under the Union Jack, on which was placed the busby, waist belt and sword of the deceased, together with several beautiful crosses and wreaths was carried on the shoulders of four sergeants from the house to the street where a hearse was waiting. At about three o’clock the funeral party moved off in the  following order- The firing party  marching in file  with ranks opened  and  arms  reversed, followed by the Band  of 3rd Batt and  Rifle  playing the Dead March. Next came the hearse with pall bearers on each side, mourning coaches containing the wife, children and friends of the deceased – the permanent staff of 3rd   Battalion, the non-commissioned officers and men of the Depot marching in file.  When the head of the procession arrived at the cemetery gate it was met by the vicar of Wrexham. The coffin was moved from the hearse and the firing party opened their ranks at four paces, and resting on their arms reversed allowed the procession to pass through to the mortuary chapel, where the funeral service was read by the Vicar. The coffin was then carried to the grave where the firing party was lined up in open order and facing it. The service being concluded the coffin   was undraped and lowered to its last resting place the firing party presenting arms. They afterwards loaded with blank cartridge, and fired three volleys in the air, the buglers sounding the general salute after each volley. The troops were then marched back to barracks, the band playing a lively air.  


In 1891 daughter Harriet married Frederick Braithwaite in Wandsworth and in the 1891 census Ellen is living in Barnes, she is a laundress, her daughters Harriet, Flora and Jane are with her.

Harriet died on 14 May 1899 in Mortlake, Surrey and even though her name is on her father’s gravestone in Wrexham she isn`t buried there. 

By 1901 Flora has married William Piper, a laundryman who has his own business, and Ellen is living with them in Wimbledon.  Ellen died there on 23 January 1903 and was brought back to Wrexham to be buried with William.

Researched by Annette Edwards. March 2019.

Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery J-02872

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