Rupert Mearse Wells, a prominent member of the Toronto Bar, and well known as Speaker of the Provincial Parliament since January, 1873, is descended on the paternal side from an English family, members of which emigrated to America, and settled in the old town of Scituate, in the State of Rhode Island, towards the end of the 17th century. His great-grandfather, James Wells, came to Canada during the Revolutionary War.
James Pendleton Wells, Esq., father of our subject, was born in Montreal in 1803. While still quite a young man he removed to Prescott County, Ontario, where he has resided for the last fifty or sixty years. He has taken an active and prominent part in public and political affairs, and up to the time of his acceptance of the office of Sheriff; which office he still holds, was the recognized leader of the Reform party in that county. There are few gentlemen in Eastern Canada more widely known or more generally respected than Sheriff Wells. His wife, mother of the subject of this memoir, was Emily Hamilton Cleveland, a native Canadian of Scotch-English descent.
Rupert Mearse was born in Prescott County, on the 28th of November, 1835; received primary education at home and at Brockville, and entered the Toronto University in 1850; was winner of the Jameson Gold Medal in History, and was Silver Medalist in Ethics, graduating B.A. in 1854; began the study of law with Alexander McDonald, then representing the old and distinguished firm of Blake, Conner, Morrison and McDonald; was called to the Bar, U. C. Trinity term, 1857, and immediately thereafter removed to L’Orignal, the County Town of the Counties of Prescott and Russell. Mr. Wells remained there about three years, during which time, in addition to his professional duties, he published and edited a newspaper called The Economist; in 1860 removed to Toronto and became associated in business with Hon. Edward Blake, the firm name being Blake, Kerr and Wells; remained in this firm until 1870, when he retired and formed a partnership with Hon. Angus Morrison, Q.C. The present name of his firm is Morrison, Wells and Gordon, one of the leading professional firms of Toronto.
In 1871 he was appointed to the office of County Attorney, for the County of York, and City of Toronto. This office he retained about a year, when he resigned to become the Reform candidate for the South Riding of Bruce, for which constituency he was elected in October, 1872; was elected Speaker, January 1873, and being re-elected held that honorable and responsible office till the close of the Parliament. Mr. Wells was again elected for South Bruce, at the general elections held in 1879.