William Hill Wells (1769 - 1829)

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Birthplace: Burlington, NJ, USA
Death: Died in Dagsboro, DE, USA
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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Immediate Family

About William Hill Wells


William Hill Wells (January 7, 1769 - March 11, 1829) was a lawyer and politician from Dagsboro, in Sussex County, Delaware. He was a member of the Federalist Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly and as U.S. Senator from Delaware.

Early life and family

Wells was born in Burlington, New Jersey. His family came to Sussex County when he was young, and his father began a successful mercantile business at Dagsboro, which the younger Wells continued. His marriage to Rachael Dagworthy, the daughter of Revolutionary General John Dagworthy, greatly increased his wealth, as she had inherited large tracts of Sussex County timberlands. Meanwhile he studied the law, was admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1791, and practiced at Georgetown, Delaware, eventually expanding to Dover, Delaware.

Professional and political career

Wells represented Sussex County for several years in the Delaware General Assembly, initially serving in the State House from the 1795 session through the 1799 session. He was then elected as a Federalist to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Joshua Clayton and served from January 17, 1799 until November 6, 1804. During this time he joined his Federalist colleagues in opposition to the Louisiana Purchase. He resigned before the completion of his term to seek his fortune in the oil business in northern Pennsylvania. He returned to the State House for the 1811 and 1812 sessions, and spent the 1813 session in the State Senate. He was again elected as a Federalist to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of James A. Bayard, and served from May 28, 1813, to March 3, 1817. Finally, he served once more in the 1819 session of the State House.

All the while he continued the practice of law in Dagsboro and Millsboro, and became heavily involved in the oil business in Pennsylvania, where the town of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania was named in his honor.

Death and legacy

Wells died near Dagsboro, Delaware, and is buried in the Prince George’s Churchyard, near Dagsboro.



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William H. Wells, U.S. Senator's Timeline

January 7, 1769
Burlington, NJ, USA
March 11, 1829
Age 60
Dagsboro, DE, USA