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Land Grants

D-67 (540 acres)

John Wells. Origin: Old Inhabitant

John Wells was granted 540 acres on Long Island in the current settlement of Simms. Our question was which John Wells this was, as there was both an Old Inhabitant with this name, and the famed Loyalist printer from South Carolina.

In Homeward Bound, a John Wells was listed as a proven Loyalist, a printer, from South Carolina and East Florida. John Wells was the printer of the Royal South Carolina Gazette, Charleston, South Carolina, which is listed in “Loyalists Newspapers of the American Revolution 1763-1783: A Bibliography” by Thomas M. Barnes. Upon arriving in the Bahamas in 1784, he quickly began printing the Bahamas Gazette. He was a very influential Loyalist in Nassau.

John Wells the printer was buried in the Old Burying Ground north of St. Matthews Churchyard, Nassau. The inscription on his tombstone reads: “In Memory of John Wells, Esq., Late Editor of the Bahamas Gazette which he conducted for 15 years with probation, died 29 October 1799 age 47.” Also buried there is his eldest daughter Mary Hamilton Wells, age 18, died 5 January 1807.

There are also listings for a John Wells in the Records of Christ Church Cathedral, New Providence; as being counted in the Fitzwilliam Census of 1734; of having had a child baptized in 1741; and of having married Ann Knowles and had a son named John Wells with her on 15 April 1757. In the 1822 Slave Register, an affidavit by a John Wells states he had 29 slaves on Long Island, and in the 1834 Register, John Wells had 25 slaves. Since John Wells the printer was dead by 1799, this is clearly a different John Wells. We believe we have made a case that John Wells the planter of Long Island was an Old Inhabitant. Also, see Jeremiah Wells, another Old Inhabitant Long Island grantee.

John Wells’ Long Island land was later commuted by the government and granted thusly: 270 acres to Deborah Thompson and 270 acres to Joseph Sims.

References: BOL, HB App E., JR, DM, DR

John Wells

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