Private Robert William Wells


Wells, probably at the Antrim camp in 1915


Robert William Wells was born on 17 August 1888 (with the name Robert James Wales) at Corvoy, Tullycorbet, County Monaghan, the third of four children of farmer James Wales and his wife Margaret Jane (née Stewart). His father died when he was just three years old, his mother remarrying four years later.

By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Corvoy, Tullycorbett, with his mother, step-father and half-sister, and working on the family farm. He later worked for Ballybay horse-dealer James Ralph Robinson, who specialised in supplying horses to buyers for European armies.

Wells enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 14 and 31 March 1914 (No.933). He attended the regiment's annual camp at Ballykinlar in June and July 1914, and on the outbreak of war the following month, was mobilised and posted to A Squadron.

'A' Squadron travelled to Dublin, camping at Phoenix Park, where they received orders to embark for France on 17 August. On the evening before they sailed some horses broke loose from their picket line. Wells stepped out of his tent and grabbed a horse which kicked him, splitting his shin bone. The injury was serious and he was unable to travel overseas with his squadron.

Wells's injury did not fully heal and he was discharged at some point in the next twelve months (presumably under paragraph 392(xvi), King's Regulations, 'being no longer physically fit for war service'). He returned to farming at Tullycorbett and on 19 October 1915 married Mary Elizabeth Wells at the Derryvalley Presbyterian Church, County Monaghan. Shortly afterwards they moved to Blackrock, County Louth, where Wells worked as coachman and gardener. Their first child, Sarah Elizabeth, was born there on 9 November 1917.

Not long after, they returned to County Monaghan, where Wells worked on Lord Rossmore's estate. He later inherited the home farm, which he sold and moved to Blackrock, where he built a house next door to the estate on which he had worked.

Wells died on 25 February 1971 and was buried in the Derryvally church cemetery near Ballybay, County Monaghan.



I am grateful to Robert Brennan, grandson of Robert Wells, for providing the image and much of the detail on his life. Gravestone image from the Find-a-Grave website.