CONTENTS:

CHARLES JOHNSON Research
SCHEMATIC PRESENTATION OF BELL FIRMS
JACKSON LINE FROM BELLS


JACKSON RESEARCH  On Daniel Bell

Email from Bill Jackson jwjackson@btinternet.com (10/2002).
68 London Road, Wheatley, Oxon, Tel/Fax 01865 872428

I wonder if I might trouble you with an enquiry? I am researching my mother's (Quaker) family, the Bells of Ulster, with a view to a book. Inter alia, they were in the middle ranks of the linen firms of Northern Ireland. 

I have come across a note on a letter from Daniel Bell of the London firm of Wakefield and Bell to Thomas Greer "II", as he is known to NI historians and genealogists, in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. It was written on 9 December 1778. The PRONI indexer, who gave it the reference D/1044/525, added that there is a "Note by TG at bottom". This note reads as follows:

"This letter was from the father of Mrs Gurney of Earlham, mother of Elizabeth Fry and Lady Thomas F Buxton. Daniel Bell was my great-grandfather's partner in the linen business at Tullylagan."

Elizabeth Gurney/Fry had of course not been born in 1778. I reckon that the note was appended at a later date, by Thomas Greer "III". 

The correspondent would appear to have been Daniel Bell (c.1726 -1802), father of not only Catherine Bell/Gurney, but of Daniel Bell (1753-1834). 

Far and away the most likely great-grandfather of TG "III" is Robert Greer of Altnavannog, well known in the NI linen context. A Daniel Bell, whom I believe to have been born shortly after 1700, the son of Alexander Bell (1659-1724), witnessed Robert's Will; and Robert's son Thomas Greer "I" (1691-1746) married that Daniel's sister, Elizabeth Bell (c. 1697-1772). 

However, it remains 

     to prove a relationship (father/son?) between Daniel (c. 1726-1802) and "my" Daniel. The relevant pedigree and tree both list a Daniel as son of Alexander above, but give no further detail; and of Daniel c. 1726's father I know no more than that he is said to have been Daniel also, has been given the ID I6718, and that the source is "EMC 2nd.ed." - and I should but don't know what that source reference means. 

     to bridge the implicit geographical gap between "my" Daniel, a farmer's son from Co. Tyrone/Armagh, and Daniel (c. 1726-19 or 29/10/1802) born in, or of, Royston, Herts and of Stamford Hill, London, merchant.

     to establish the circumstances in which the Ulster Bells and their Ulster and London Wakefield colleagues (with whom they later intermarried) appear to have established the firm of Wakefield and Bell and then done business together (not always harmoniously!).

I hope very much that this message finds you, and that it is one which you might acknowledge receiving and - later, when you have a moment - react to if you can add any information at all, or suggest sources for me to look into. I hope that I am not barking up umpteen wrong trees!

A3M answer:
Daniel (father of 1726-1802) could easily be the son of Alexander, sister of Elizabeth. I note that the London firm was Bell and Wakefield: Daniel (2)'s daughter, Priscilla married Edward Wakefield.

23/10/02

I am really very grateful for your immediate reply.

Yes, I came across material (I can now see, from the EMC source) which you had kindly placed on the net, once I began to research the Gurneys/Frys on foot of finding that note added to the letter from a Daniel Bell of the firm to Thomas Greer II. Again, many thanks for sharing it. I go over to NI several times each year, mainly to see my surviving aunt, and usually try to set aside a day or two for work in PRONI and with Ross Chapman, the Quaker historian in Newry.

I have only been researching for a couple of years, since retiring from the UN in 1999. I will attach, first, a draft of the line back from myself and my mother to the "paterfamilias", one Archibald Bell (1617 or 1620-1707). He became a Quaker in 1657 and, while I am not a Quaker - nor was my mother - there have been many Quakers in the extended family from that day to this.
The Daniel who may have been the father of Daniel (?1726-?1802) was a son of Archibald’s son Alexander.

I have not yet begun to research the firm of Wakefield and Bell/Bell and
Wakefield, but indeed plan to do so to the extent feasible, since, if I may put it so, cotton and linen were threads running through the family in NI from the 17th to the early 20th century: (as you can see from the second attachment hereto, a work-in-progress listing of all the Bell firms currently known to me). I might start by looking for evidence on the firm, if any, in the library in Friends House, Euston Road; and check if there is any mention of it in books which have addressed the subject of Quakers in industry and business.

My planned book on the Bells, essentially for my own interest and, I hope, that of my children, will take another year or two to put together, but, again to give you an idea of the scope, I am attaching a draft index of the chapters. It will be confined to the Bells - but, if a link with e.g. Elizabeth Fry can be adduced with certainty, I am not averse to mentioning it in passing! The chapters on e.g. Australia and NZ will certainly refer to some Bells of the family, and at that point, and in the context of slavery and anti-slavery, I shall no doubt hark back to the roles of their cousin, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. (There were in fact five Bell/Wakefield marriages, I think, of which four in the 19th century).

If you have any suggestions for sources to research, or any other comments, they will, needless to say, be very welcome. I will try to keep you informed of progress once in a while.

With best wishes,

Bill

 

 

 

 

 

SCHEMATIC PRESENTATION OF BELL FIRMS

DATE

SOURCE

TRADING AS

BUSINESS

COMMENTARY, BELLS INVOLVED, QUOTATIONS ETC

         

Early 1700s

Greer Letter in PRONI, D/1044/525

Robert Greer of Altnavannog and Daniel Bell, at Tullylagan, Co. Tyrone (to be confirmed)

Linen

Daniel Bell (after 1700-?), son of Alexander Bell (1659-1724). The "Note by TG at bottom" of the letter, written to Thomas Greer II by Daniel Bell on 9 December 1778, reads as follows, according to the Index to the Greer Letters at PRONI - D/1044: "This letter was from the father of Mrs Gurney of Earlham, mother of Elizabeth Fry and Lady Thomas F[owell] Buxton. Daniel Bell was my great-grandfather's partner in the linen business at Tullylagan". JWJ believes that this note must have been written by Thomas Greer III: For further detail refer to JWJ’s Family Tree Maker notes on Daniel Bell

         

pre-1764

Deborah Nicholl Bell

?, in Lurgan

Tanning

Richard Bell 1694/5-1764

         

c. 1811

  • "The Bells"
  • Will of John Bell

(1748-1811)

?, in Lurgan

Tanning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

& property on Donegal Quay, Belfast

The Will of John Bell (1748-1811), son of Richard (1694/5-1764) read:

"Likewise I leave to my said wife the house I now live in with Tanyard and offices houses thereunto belonging during her life and at her death said house and premises shall become the property of my son Samuel Bell for ever but if my said son Samuel Bell shall die before he comes to the age twenty one years in that case my will is that my said house and Tanyard bequeathed to him shall at the death of my wife Elizabeth Bell be sold and the money arising from such sale shall be equally divided between all my surviving children share and share alike." There is no information on Samuel B beyond probable birthdate of 1795.

(John was uncle to John B (c. 1774-1828) & thus great-uncle to William Bell (1797-1871)).

"First I leave and bequeath to Elizabeth Bell my dearly beloved wife my holding in Belfast on the Donegal Quay to be disposed of at her death as she may think proper. … I leave and bequeath to my daughter Mary Bell the tenement in Lurgan I lately bought called Bowen’s tenement for ever, subject to Ten pounds yearly to be paid my daughter Jane Haughton twenty pounds a year during her life out of my concern in Belfast on the Donegal Quay already bequeathed to my wife Elizabeth Bell."

         

1776-1796

Daniel Bell of the firm writes to

Thomas Greer II at Dungannon, 9 December 1778 (PRONI D/1044/525;

ditto 3 September 1779 (D/1044/556a)

ditto, from Stamford Hill- date? - (D/1044/571)

Other letters from Wakefield and Bell to Thomas Greer II are D/1044/ 531, 533, 535,586, 595, 617, 624, 660, 663, 663b, 683. Letters from TG II to the firm are /538, /661 and /706

Wakefield and Bell, New Hambro, near Dungannon

Bleach yard

Daniel Bell, but was it Daniel wife of Katherine, and father of Priscilla who married Edward Wakefield (born 1749)? And was this one and the same Daniel Bell son of Alexander Bell (1659-1724), above; or a son or nephew?

Had the Wakefield and Bell families of NI jointly established a firm in London with a member of each as director (Daniel and Edward)?

A Joseph Wakefield of Hall’s Mills also wrote, e.g. D/1044/408, to Thomas Greer II (1724-1803), who was son-in-law to TG I and Elizabeth Bell of Trummery. Presumably this Wakefield was Joseph (1744-1821), who m. Hannah Christy in 1766? TG II also wrote from Rhonehill to TG Junior (III) c/o Wakefield and Bell in London on 20 May 1792.

A James I. B(ell) wrote to TG Junior at Dartry Lodge - D/1044/783; and a James J. Bell (the same?) wrote to him from Dublin on 1 December 1794 - D/1044/797.

The PRONI website reads as follows on the Greer collections:

Linen Trade: "The letters to and from the second Thomas Greer form the bulk of the collection. Greer was chiefly concerned with the linen business but was also involved in the trade of general goods……. All through the letters the Greer family appear to have been connected in business with the Wakefields of London. The partnerships changed from time to time: the first was Wakefield, Willet & Pratt, and the next, mentioned in 1770, was Wakefield, Pratt & Miers and later the name was Wakefield and Bell."

Financial disputes. "Thomas Greer had a bleach green at New Hamborough, near Dungannon, first mentioned in 1775 [D/1044/415]. In 1776 this bleach yard belonged to Wakefield, Pratt & Meirs. After the dissolution of this partnership Thomas Greer's offer of £2000 for 'New Hambro' was accepted [D/1044/531]. Later in that year [D/1044/533] Wakefield & Bell entered into a partnership with him and together they ran it until 1796 when Thomas Greer [D/1044/818] proposed buying Wakefield & Co's share of New Hamborough. Shortly after this the Greers and Wakefields had a final disagreement; they had had many minor disputes but in this case [D/1044/830 and 831] Edward Wakefield went so far as to '...lay an action on their goods...' and Thomas Greer & Son decided to trade with a different firm called Hayters."

         

1807

Smyth/Lyons’ Belfast Directory, 1807

John Bell, 51 Hercules Lane, Belfast

Brewing

John Bell "the Brewer" (1773-1830)

         

1807

Joseph Smyth’s Belfast Directory

John Bell & Co., Margaret Street

Muslin manufacturers

John Bell (c. 1774-1828)

         

1807

Smyth/Lyons’ Belfast Directory

Bell & Kennedy,

62 Waring Street, Belfast

Wholesale printed calico & linen warehouse

Link with our Bell family still to be proven

         

1807

Smyth/Lyons’ Belfast Directory

Bell & Haughton, High Street, Belfast

Hardware merchants

Link with our Bell family to be proven, but likely

         

1807

Smyth/Lyons’ Belfast Directory

William Bell, 20 Bridge Street, Belfast

Woollen draper

Link with our Bell family to be proven

         

1807

Smyth/Lyons’ Belfast Directory

Alexander Bell, 2 Bridge Street, Belfast

Woollen draper

Link with our Bell family to be proven

         

1807

Smyth/Lyons’ Belfast Directory

Isaac Bell, senior, 60 High Street, Belfast

Upholsterer

Uncertain that there is any link

         

1807

Smyth/Lyons’ Belfast Directory

Isaac Bell, junior, Bank Buildings, Belfast (no. 28 in the 1808 edition)

Upholsterer

Uncertain that there is any link

         

1807

Smyth/Lyons’ Belfast Directory

William Bell, 8 Mill-field, Belfast

Dyer

Uncertain that there is any link

         

1808

Smyth/Lyons’ Belfast Directory

Bell & McCall

Cabinet makers

Uncertain that there is any link , but a Quaker Richard Bell from Lurgan was apprenticed from 1789 to 1795 to Richard Bastefill, cabinet maker of 83 Capel Street, Dublin.

PRONI has in D/1050/15/1/5 the Minute book of Belfast Journeymen cabinet-makers, 1788-1885. These listed inter alia "tickets given" - i.e. certificates of membership? - by the Cabinet Society of Belfast. No. 48, issued on July 5th, 1795, was to a Robert Bell; No. 03, issued on January 2nd, 1804, was to a Bell also - the initial being smudged. G? Or R. again?

         

1819/2

 

Bradshaw’s Directory for Lurgan

Thomas Bell, Ballyblough, Lurgan

Linen manufacturer

Related?

         

1819

"Belfast Directory" per footnote in Gill’s The Rise of the Irish Linen Industry p 241

   

John Bell, presumably (c. 1774-1828)

Conrad Gill writes: "John Bell, who has been mentioned already as a discounter of bills [p. 168], combined the trades of yarn merchant, spinner and manufacturer". For the full quotation, see JWJ’s file genBellJohn1774perGill.doc

         

?

"The Bells" by Isaac Edward Bell, c. 1972

Name? John and Richard Bell & Co. ? - see immediately below

37 John Street, Belfast

(This street no longer exists. It was pulled down to make room for Royal Avenue).

Muslin bleachers

John Bell (c. 1774-1828) and his brother Richard Bell (1778-1831) of Ballyclare

"John Bell - generally known as John Bell of Greenmount - though brought up in poor circumstances was successful in business and became a wealthy man. He was at one time in partnership with his brother Richard. They were muslin bleachers. The firm's office was at 37 John Street, Belfast ….."

 

         
 

The Millers and the Mills of Ireland of about 1850 by William E. Hogg, Dublin, 1998

Messrs Bells and Calvert, Whitehouse Village NE end

Cotton factory

No further details given

         

1828/29

The Millers and the Mills of Ireland of about 1850 by William E. Hogg, Dublin 1998

Messrs Bells and Calvert, Drumaneeragh

Flax spinning

"Richard [1778-1831] and John Bell [1774-1828], Joseph Calvert and anr."

Spring mill, office, stores, yard and pond. 2 acres 3 roods 0 perches, Valuation £520. Wheel 30/0ft. 8/0 27/6; overshot; 5,000 spindles. "A very extensive mill, main building 3 floors 136 x 21 feet will soon employ 400. The new spinning house was built in 1828 and the business established in 1829. The machinery has all been made by Samuel Boyd and Co. of Belfast and is the only work in Ireland which can be said to be fully made up of native manufacture."

         

1840/41

Henderson’s Belfast & Ulster Directory

John and Richard Bell & Co.

2 York Square

Bleachers

Presumably John Bell [1774-1828] and Richard Bell [1778-1831]

         
 

From "Memories of the Green House" by grand-daughter of Richard and Anne Langtry Bell, quoted in "The Bells"

   

Richard Bell(1778-1831) "It was simply the residence attached to the Ballyclare Bleachworks for muslin bleaching belonging to our grandfather Richard Bell. I think it formed part of the business belonging to the firm of John and Richard Bell and, when the partnership was dissolved, it became the share of our grandfather. …. "Richard Bell was also successful in business. He owned bleachworks at Ballyclare, County Antrim, and lived in the Green House, a residence adjacent to the bleachworks. At that time the present rapid methods of chemical bleaching were unknown and the cloth was bleached by exposure to the weather on the bleach-green. The works have, since his death, been greatly enlarged but parts of the old walls remain. ……… Richard Bell died in 1831. His will was proved in 1832 in the Prerogative Court, Dublin. The family about the time of his death, or later, suffered severe monetary losses. The accounts differ. According to one his loss of fortune occurred while he was on his death bed and his wife bravely forbore to acquaint him of it. According to another, "old Richard Bell" lost £16000 to £17000 by defaulters or bankruptcies in Belfast. Other accounts appear to show that considerable losses were occasioned by the above mentioned failure of John Bell & Son, ten years after his death. Whatever the facts may be and whether there was a single loss or several in succession there can be no doubt of the poverty. One of the sons in his diary under date 4th month lst 1839 says:- ‘Sorrow hath encompassed me round and I have no rest Oh! that the time of death were come .... All my possessions are clean gone. My earthly ones the Lord hath stripped them entirely away and I am too weak to seek for any in heaven ...’ Again, six months later, he says, "I am humbled under the pressing hand of penury. After the death of Richard Bell there were disputes among the sons in regard to the business which ceased to be prosperous and was ultimately sold to Messrs. Kirkpatrick Brothers."

For further info re Ballyclare Bleaching Green, see below, under 1865 Elizabeth Bell etc.

         

1833

Sheet of paper from Lilly Library, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana

John Bell & Co.

 

"… (established by Wm’s father John) and carried on by William and his uncle (?) John Stott, became bankrupt in 1833 (see two documents in this collection …)

         

1841/2

"The Bells" by Isaac Edward Bell, c. 1972

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belfast Guardian, May 1828

John Bell & Son

Manufacturers of linen and cotton goods

John Bell (c. 1774-1828) and his son William Bell (1797-1871)

"….. Later he was in partnership with his son William. John Bell & Son were, according to a printed memoir, "large and wealthy manufacturers of linen and cotton goods in and near Belfast, Ireland, and had agents and connections in New York, New Orleans, Havana, Calcutta, Bombay and other well known foreign marts. …… "They, with other manufacturers, were induced to purchase all the cotton that it was possible to procure in l841, following reports of general failure of cotton crops all over the world, and in those days of slow communication by sailing vessels only, it was months before they learned that conditions had changed and immense crops of cotton had been thrown on the market. Prices tumbled, linen and cotton goods were forced to lowest prices ever known, and the largest firms failed. including the firm of John Bell & Son." The memoir continues, "John Bell died soon after" . However, John Bell of Greenmount died 14 years earlier, on 9 May 1828, aged 56: it seems that IEB was mistaken? Perhaps he should have referred to John Bell (1775-1843) and to the firm John Bell & Nephew - see entry immediately following? Or is JWJ mistaken?]

" …and has for many years been one of the most extensive cotton spinners and manufacturers in Ireland, having in his employment many hundreds of industrious families and individuals".

         

1840/41

Martin’s Belfast Directory;

 

"A Pioneer Quaker Newspaper - The Irish Friend 1832-1842" by Bernard Canter; Appendix re William Bell"

Bell, John and Nephew, Hercules Street

Muslin Manufacturers

??John Bell of Ballynarey (died 1853) and William Bell (1797-1871): or:

"Two near relations of William Bell, members of his Monthly Meeting (Lisburn), were in fact expelled (the technical term is disowned) in 1841, because of their bankruptcy. The incident can hardly have failed to impress him: they were not only kinsmen but their names were similar to his own and to that of his (by then deceased) father. The two Friends disowned were John Bell and William (G?) Bell (William Bell, "junior"), trading as John Bell and Nephew, muslin manufacturers, of Hercules Street, Belfast." Were these John Bell (1781-1869) and ?? William Bell (1814-1908) ?

Elizabeth Constable nee Lamb in her 1901 Reminiscences of Belfast 1830-1840 says "Where Royal Avenue now stretches were two narrow wretched streets - Hercules Street and John Street; Hercules Street was chiefly noted for butchers’ shops."

         

1841/2

The Belfast Directory

William Bell,

37 John Street and Piazzas

General Agency, commission merchant, bill and share broker

William Bell (1797-1871)

 

         

1842

"A Pioneer Quaker Newspaper - The Irish Friend 1832-1842" by Bernard Canter, unpublished, 1967 : "Appendix -- William Bell"

William Bell

General agency

William Bell (1797-1871) "While in Belfast William Bell conducted a "General Agency", as a commission merchant, bill and share broker, at 37 John Street, (The Belfast directory of 1841-2 gives William Bell’s business as "37 John Street and Piazzas", and his residence as 2 Dock street) which also became the office of The Irish Friend. From various hints in the advertisements of that journal it appears that he acted mainly as an arranger of imports and exports for manufacturers, wholesalers and stores, but also functioned as stockbroker, moneylender, debt collector and negotiator of the sales and lettings of houses and businesses. In 1842 he met with heavy reverses in trade which, according to William Baxter, were "consequent upon the failure of his commercial agents in New York". These reverses caused the failure of his business.

         

1843/44

Post Office Annual Directory

Bell, William Junior, 11 Church Street

General and Commission Merchant

?? William Bell (1814-1908); William Bell (1797-1871) had just emigrated, but the earlier entry might have been retained if this were not known to the publishers

         

1840/41

Martin’s Belfast Directory

Bells and Calvert, mills, Whitehouse, town office

6 Mustard Street

Flax spinners

??John Bell of Greenmount (c. 1774-1828); ??or John Bell (1781-1869); plus Richard Bell (1801/2-1873) & Joseph Calvert

         

1840/41

Martin’s Belfast Directory, also in Henderson’s New Belfast Directory of 1843

Richard and Jacob Bell, Mustard Street

Linen Yarn Merchants

??Richard Bell 1801/2-1873 and his brother Jacob 1805-1856 (Richard Bell 1778-1831 had no brother Jacob)

1840/41

Martin’s Belfast Directory, & ditto

R. and Jacob, 6 Mustard Street

Cotton Yarn Merchants

Ditto

1843/44

Martin’s Belfast Directory

Richard and Jacob Bell

8 Margaret Street

Size Works

??Richard Bell (1801/2-1873) and his brother Jacob Bell (1805-1856)

1843/44

Post Office Annual Directory

Richard and Jacob Bell

4 Mustard Street

Flax Spinners

?? Ditto

1851

Bradshaw’s Directory for Lisburn

Samuel Bell, Bridge St.

William Bell, Back Lane

Joseph Bell, Johnston’s Entry

Andrew Bell, Linenhall St

Joshua Bell, Piper Hill

John Bell, Longstone

William Bell Linenhall St

Woollen draper

Weaver

Weaver

Weaver

Weaver

Land surveyor

Land surveyor

All need to be checked for family link, if any

         

1852

Henderson’s Belfast & Ulster Directory

23 Little Donegal Street and Whitehouse

also linen and (?)woollen yarn merchants

This item seems to have become disconnected - recheck the 1852 directory

         

1840/41

Ditto; [and Post Office Annual Directory for 1843/44, and Henderson’s New Belfast Directory]

Abraham Bell, 27 Rosemary Street

  • Muslin Manufacturers; and Linen Thread Manufacturers;
  • in 1843/44 "manufacturer of sewing and tambour thread, bleacher’s red marking cotton &c &c and fancy boxes for linen handkerchiefs"

??Abraham Bell 1787-1859 of Solitude, Lurgan

         

1843/44

Post Office Annual Directory

Richard Bell,

8 McTier Street

Weaver

?? Richard Bell (1801/2-1873)

         

1843/44

Ditto

Jacob Bell and Co. , 28 Little Donegall Street

Flax Stores

??Jacob Bell (1805-1856)

         

1843/44

Ditto

Richard Bell and Sons Whitehouse

 

??Richard Bell (1801/2-1873)+ Alexander Maxwell Bell (1823-) Elias Hughes Bell (1825-1896), John Bell junior (1829-1864) and ??Joseph Bell (1836-1922)

         

1850

Maeve Bell, Deborah Nicholl Bell, Alison Kennedy Bell, Sam Bell, orally + e-mails

Thomas Bell and Co. of Lurgan and New York

Handkerchiefs

??Thomas Bell (1811-1852)

from Sam Bell (Australia): Thomas Bell and Co. of Lurgan and New York: "the firm ceased in the early 1920s .... The name .... Could be from Thomas Bell (1811-1852) the eldest brother of Samuel Alexander (1821-1901) who was, I believe, the early owner/director/boss. Perhaps Thomas put up the money to get the firm going. All speculation .... Certainly the firm was in full operation by 1850 as I have letters written to the branch in New York from that date .... Incidentally, Richard has other letters from the same period." ....

         

1852

Henderson’s Belfast & Ulster Directory

Bell, John Jun. & Co., 55 York Street

Yarn and General Merchants

John Bell junior (1829-1864)

         

1860/61

Martin’s Belfast Directory

Bell and Borthwick, Seaview, Greenisland

(linen and flax)

John Bell junior (1829-1864) and William Borthwick

1861

Ward’s Belfast Directory

35 & 37 North Street

 

Check directory again

         

?

24/3/1858, 20/2/1865, 2/12/1865

PRONI D/639/168a

ditto /217

ditto /219, 220

Richard Bell & Co. , Belfast

Assignment

Agreement about assets

Reports

 

1860/61

Ditto

Richard Bell & Co., 13 Donegal Street

Linen and Yarn Merchants, Flax Spinners etc

??Richard Bell (1801/2-1873)

 

         

1871

Bleachers and Finishers Association, A Historical Record, pub. 23/5/1950, in PRONI Library

Hyde Park Bleaching Company

 

Henry Hilary Bell (1822-?)? The company was one of those which on 1 June 1871 were parties to the price list for bleaching and finishing of linen and other goods.

         

1866-71 and 1874

PRONI, Ulster Textile Industry, A Catalogue of Business Records

Bell, Timothy & Co.

Flax

The following are some of the references which JWJ found in PRONI per documents D/639/227, /248, /251 and 283b. (Also available apparently on Microfilm MIC/413). NB not D/638 as listed in the PRONI "Ulster Textile Industry, a Catalogue of Business Records, under "Bell, Timothy & Co. Flax. Deed of Partnership 1866-71 & 1874".

D/639/227 20 April 1866. Deed of partnership as flax merchants, Timothy Bell, Belfast 1st. part, James Calvert, Whitehouse Co. Antrim 2nd. part, Richard James Purdon, Belfast 3rd part. Under name of Timothy Bell & Co.

/228 20 April 1866. Agreement to obtain credit. Same three names as above.

/248 13 May 1871. Agreement to pay 8s. in the £ and to execute a release. TB, JC, RJP, Belfast, members of late firm of Timothy Bell & Co. 1st. pt, the Patrington Flax Co. 2nd. pt. (List of creditors attached).

/249 19 May 1871. Report of meeting of creditors of Timothy Bell & Co.

/250 19 May 1871. Acceptance of resolutions at above meeting, Timothy Bell & Co. and 13 creditors.

/261 1871, June, July, August. Claim on Timothy Bell & Co. of £1,029.12.1, Northern Banking Company, Belfast

/283b 18 March 1874. Assignment and Release, signed per his Power of Attorney given to Charles Delacherois Purdon, to Richard James Purdon, late of Belfast, now of Toronto, Canada 1st. pt, Timothy Bell and Jas. Calvert, Belfast 2nd. pt. Bankruptcy of partnership. Property - tenements and hereditaments in Academy Street and Caxton Street, Belfast. Paying Richard James Purdon £60. Joseph Chandler Marsh had demised the properties.

Can this be Timothy Bell (1819-?), who was said to have emigrated to the USA? The further link with the Calverts suggests our family. See also immediately below.

         

1870

Belfast & Ulster Directory

Timothy Bell & Co., 89 and 91 Academy Street, Belfast

Flax, tow and commission merchants

Timothy Bell, residence Seafield, Strandtown, Belfast. See above

         

1880

The Ulster Directory

Linen Hall

[also General Commission Merchants]

?? Richard Bell (1858-1928) and Elias Hughes Bell (1825-1896)

 

 

         

1888 pubd.

"The Book of Co. Armagh" by G.H. Bennett, pub. 1888, facsimile reprint in 1990 - info per S. A. Bell (1919-)

The Lurgan Weaving Co.

 

The directors included Samuel Alexander Bell (1821-1901) and his brother Frederick Bell (1857-1929). According to S.A. Bell, the book states that the firm had 471 power looms.

         

1894

Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory

also 40 Queen Street and 10 Donegal Square North

 

This has become detached - check the directory again.?? Same??

1900

Ditto

16 Donegal Square North

 

Richard Bell (1858-1928)

         
 

"Belfast and the Province of Ulster in the Twentieth Century", W T Pike & Co.

11 Donegal Square South

 

as above

1914

Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory

Ditto

 

+ John Bell (1861-1932)

         

c. 1865

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1867

 

 

 

 

  1. 1865

5/10/1827

Elizabeth Bell. Statement of case in dispute between members of the Bell family re ownership of certain goods in the bleach green (see below) PRONI D/1905/13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[John and Richard Bell]

 

 

 

 

[John and William Bell]

 

Louisa Bell [1821-1866]. Greenhouse nr. Ballyclare. Copy draft lease of bleach green at Ballyclare, ANT to James Whisker of Greenhouse muslin bleacher. Bleach green at Ballyclare ANT

Louisa Bell. Draft lease; relates deed of 1808. The bleach green at Ballyclare was formerly in the occupation of John Cunningham, Thomas Scott and John and Richard Bell. Alexander Orr to Louisa Bell.

 

 

 

 

Louisa Bell. Statement of case in dispute between members of the Bell family re ownership of certain goods in the bleach green. James Whisker was the husband of Ann Walker, a niece of Elizabeth [1812-1866] and Louisa Bell; John L[angtry] Bell (1809-?) , by verbal agreement, carried on the Ballyclare green (as well as Ballynure) for about £200 per annum paid to Elizabeth and Louisa Bell. E.&L. Bell v. John L. Bell, bleacher of Ballynure, ANT.

Copy lease Robert Greenfield of Ballyclare, merchant, John and William Bell of Belfast, Richard Bell of Ballyclare, Thomas Scott of Dromore, Co. Down, merchants and co-partners. Premises and 1 rood at Le (?), Ballyclare

1900

Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory

Bell, N.,

23 Rossmore Avenue

Linen Merchants

?? Nicholas J (= Gosselin?) Bell(1875-1939)

         

1900

Ditto

Bell, J.

18 Howard Street

Linen and Comm[ission] Merchant

??Joseph Bell (1836-1922)

 

       

OTHER FIRMS

       
         

26 January 1789 (advertisement)

"A Belfast Chronicle 1789 - a Compilation from the Belfast News Letter" by James McAllister, Friar’s Bush Press, Belfast, 1989

George Langtry

Importer of fruits, dyestuffs, teas, Danzig ashes etc

George Langtry (?? father/uncle of Ann Langtry (1782-1863), wife of Richard Bell (1778-1831)

         

1823 (seal)

Exhibition at the Linen Museum in Lisburn

J. No. Langtry, Ballinderry, Antrim

Brown linen

J. No. Langtry (what relationship to Ann Langtry?)

         

Misc. dates - e.g. University at Albany records cover 1809-1917

 

 

 

 

 

  • University at Albany Libraries M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives MS Collections, (MSS-035)
  • The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Winterthur, DE 19735. Control No.: DEWV92-A326
  • Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, Cornell University Libraries.
  • NYHistSoc MssColl Non-circulating N11160028 Control No.: NYUGB12282370-A; also NYHW85-A315
  • South Caroliniana Library, University South Caroliniana Society; MS Collections
  • Duke University

Abraham Bell and Co. and its successor/s, Abraham Bell and Son (1844), and ?? Sons, New York

Merchant shipping firm specializing in the export of Southern cotton to the British Isles 1837-1854 … and brought back Irish immigrants and other passengers to the United States from Derry and Belfast in the 1830's and 1840's

Brokerage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linen imports to USA

Abraham Bell (1778-1843/56) and his son James Christy Bell (1814-1897); later ?? also his son Abraham Bell (1813-? Dates to be confirmed). ?? Also his grandson John Wethered Bell (1848-1819) and; also ?? his sister Elizabeth Bell i.e. Mrs William Greer (1775-1859)

         

1889-1895 (records)

Ditto

Bell Brothers,

Yonkers, New York

Money-lending

??James Christy Bell (1814-1897)

         

1859 (see entry next below)

(see entry next below)

The Belfast Steamship Company "took over the vessels and business of the long established Langtry’s line …"

Shipping

?? of the Langtry family

         

1852, 1879

Journal of the Friends Historical Society re Vol. XVII, page 111

Belfast Steamship Co., formed 1852, became limited company in 1879

Steamship service between Belfast and Liverpool

Article about the role of Quakers in steam navigation. "..... William Valentine and Jacob Bell [1805-1856], another ex-Friend, a flax-spinner, united with numerous Belfast merchants … William Valentine and Elias H. Thompson [1822-1880], a flax and yarn merchant, were most active members of the Board of Directors for nearly thirty years."

Draft

RINGING TRUE

THE BELL FAMILY OF NORTHERN IRELAND

QUAKERS THROUGH 350 YEARS

INDEX

FOREWORD

THE SURNAME BELL PAGE

THE 17TH CENTURY

  1. ARKINHOLME
  2. ARCHIBALD BELL 1617/20-1707: PATERFAMILIAS

3. TO IRELAND

4. CONVINCEMENT

5. SUFFERINGS

6. ULSTER IN THE LATE 1600s

  1. OUTLINE DESCENDANT TREE - GENERATIONS 1, 2, 3 AND 4

THE 18TH CENTURY

8. A DISPUTED WILL

9. THE FIRST RIPPLES

10. SUBSISTENCE

11. THE FABRIC OF THEIR LIVES

  1. EMIGRATION TO THE U.S.A.
  2. CONTINUITY IN QUAKERDOM
  3. WHERE THE BELLS LIVED (TRUMMERY)
  4. DESCENDANT TREE - GENERATIONS 4, 5, 6 AND 7

THE 19TH CENTURY

  1. LINEN LOOMS LARGE: THE DESCENDANTS OF JOHN BELL
  2. SLAVERY AND THE ANTI-SLAVERY MOVEMENT:

c.1784-1847 RICHARD MAXWELL BELL OF SANTIAGO DE CUBA

1807-1871 WILLIAM BELL OF BELFAST, AND RICHMOND, INDIANA

18. THE BELLS IN AMERICA

1797-1843/56 ABRAHAM BELL OF STRAMORE, CO. DOWN & NEW YORK

1814-1897 JAMES CHRISTY BELL

1850-1923 JAMES CHRISTY BELL

19. CONTINUITY IN QUAKERDOM

1825-1896 ELIAS HUGHES BELL

1831-1876 MARY BELL

1824-1877 DEBORAH BELL

1806-1880 JAMES GREER BELL

1822-1913 EDWARD BELL

1838-1922 HENRY BELL

  1. WHERE THE BELLS LIVED (BELLE VUE, SOLITUDE, TULLYLISH HOUSE, ETC)
  2. DESCENDANT TREE - GENERATIONS 7, 8, 9 AND 10

THE 20TH CENTURY

THE GREAT WAR:

1891-1916 RUPERT E. BELL

1879-1917 ISAAC BELL

1891-1918 JOHN MERCER GRIMSHAW BELL

1864-1912 ALBERT HENRY BELL

1867-1932 JOHN BELL AND HIS FAMILY

1935 - ?MARCUS ARTHUR MONEY BELL OF VICTORIA B. C., CANADA

THE BELLS IN AUSTRALIA

THE BELLS IN NEW ZEALAND

  1. JOCELYN BELL BURNELL

OUTLINE DESCENDANT TREE - GENERATIONS 10, 11, 12 AND 13

SOME REFLECTIONS

APPENDICES

  • PRINCIPAL SOURCES OF BELL GENEALOGY
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY
  • INDEX TO NAMES

 

 

SCHEMATIC PRESENTATION OF BELL FIRMS (RHB) & HOWARD MANLEY STEWART BELL’S (HMSB) FAMILY TREES, ETC

ARCHIBALD BELL, ARKINHOLME, DUMFRIESSHIRE, SCOTLAND BORN 1590 - DIED 8/1668?

MARRIED ANN …

|

 

ARCHIBALD BELL BORN AUGUST 1620 - DIED 1 NOVEMBER 1707

BORN ARKINHOLME; AFTER 1651 MOVED TO BRUNTON OF GILLSLAND, CUMBERLAND;

CAME TO IRELAND 1655; FIRST LIVED IN CO. ARMAGH;

BURIED MEGABERRY, CO. ANTRIM

MARRIED IN 1648 ANN PURVIS, D. OF ALEXANDER PURVIS OF ARKINHOLME

|

 

EITHER (HMSB) RICHARD BELL , 3RD SON, BORN NOVEMBER 1657 IN BALLARDS(?) OR BALLYARDS PARISH, ARMAGH; DIED JULY 1725

MARRIED IN 1695 ELIZABETH, D. OF STEPHEN ATKINSON, WHO LIVED AT TRUMMERY, MAGHERAMESK, CO. ANTRIM

OR [RHB] GEORGE BELL, 5TH SON, BORN DRUMTOLLAN, BENBURB CO. ARMAGH

APRIL 1662, DIED 1718; LIVED AT CORCATRY, BALLINDERRY

MARRIED [/1\ SARAH HOULDEN IN 1685]

MARRIED /2\ IN 1697 ABIGAIL ATKINSON, D. OF STEPHEN ATKINSON, BORN 1665

|

 

EITHER [HMSB] RICHARD BELL (1695-1764), 2ND SON OF RICHARD BELL 1657-1725

MARRIED [/1\ IN 1734 … STANHOPE, D. OF HENRY STANHOPE]

/2\ IN 1741 ANNE KIRK, BORN .., DIED 1775

OR [RHB] RICHARD BELL, 1ST SON OF GEORGE BELL 1662-1718,

MARRIED OUT OF QUAKERS IN 1734

|

 

ABRAHAM BELL (SECOND SON) 1742, ALIVE IN 1798

MARRIED IN 1767 MARY, BORN 1743 DIED 1819, D. OF THOMAS AND ELIZABETH TOPPIN OF BALLYHAGEN

|

 

MALE JOHN BELL BORN 1781/2 DIED 1869

MARRIED IN 1801 FEMALE ELEANOR [VERSCHOYLE - HMSB] BORN 1781 DIED 1867: [RHB HAS JOHN BELL AS (?) M. ELEANOR BELL, HIS FIRST AND THIRD COUSIN]

|

 

RICHARD BELL BORN 1801/2 DIED 20 DECEMBER 1873

MARRIED /1\ IN 1822 ELIZABETH HUGHES BORN 1798, DIED 1831

[MARRIED /2\ LUCY LOCKE CALVERT]

|

 

JOHN BELL "JUNIOR" BORN 18 OCTOBER 1829 DIED 30 MAY 1864

MARRIED ON 20 AUGUST 1856 ANNA HULL MERCER BORN 1832 DIED 1888(?),

3rd DAUGHTER OF HENRY MERCER OF FARM LODGE, LURGAN, CO. DOWN

|

JOHN BELL, 3RD SON, BORN SEAVIEW, GREENISLAND, CO. ANTRIM

10 MAY 1861 - DIED 6 JANUARY 1932

MARRIED (1) IN 1898 ANNIE CAROLINE HIND, BORN 1 JANUARY 1869 DIED 6 OCTOBER 1911, D. OF JOSEPH GALES HIND AND ANNIE CAROLINE HIND, nee DAISH

[MARRIED (2) SUSAN PORTER, A COUSIN, IN 1915]

|

 

MARGARET EVELYN HIND BELL, 4TH DAUGHTER,

BORN 21 JANUARY 1911 - DIED 12 SEPT. 1964

MARRIED 2 AUGUST 1937 CECIL THOMAS JACKSON, SON OF THE

REVD. WILLIAM ALEXANDER BAIRD JACKSON OF MONEYMORE, CO. LONDONDERRY

|

 

JOHN WILLIAM JACKSON, 1ST SON, BORN 10 FEBRUARY 1939

MARRIED 6 JUNE 1964 MARGARET ISABEL CHIRNSIDE BORN 4 JUNE 1937

DAUGHTER OF RALPH CLARK AND LUCY MABEL CHIRNSIDE nee AMEY OF WEMBLEY, MIDDLESEX

|

 

STEPHEN WILLIAM JACKSON, 2ND SON, BORN 13 FEBRUARY 1967

MARRIED 17 AUGUST 1996 LAURA JEAN FROST 13 MAY 1969

DAUGHTER OF ALLAN R. FROST & FRANCES F. nee MITCHELL OF TWIN FALLS, IDAHO

|

 

LIAM ALAN FROST JACKSON, BORN IN CORK, 8 JANUARY 2001 -

 

CHARLES JOHNSON Research

Hello again, I'm attaching a Gedcom file with the descendants of FD Bell down to my father's (Nigel Johnston) generation, which should answer your questions. I suppose it's all too remote to have much interest for you, but you can find biographies of the two Francis Bells at: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/default.asp?Find_Quick.asp?PersonEssay=1B16 http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/default.asp?Find_Quick.asp?PersonEssay=2B16 Kind regards, Charles Johnston > To: Charles Johnston <cdfjohnston at hotmail.com> >Subject: Re: Bells >Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 21:10:25 +0000 > >Dear Charles, >

 

Bell, Francis Dillon 1822 - 1898
Public administrator, runholder, politician

Francis Dillon Bell, usually called Dillon, is said to have been born in France on 8 October 1822. His father, Edward Bell, was a merchant and the British consul at Bordeaux. His mother, Frances, was the daughter of an Anglican clergyman, the Reverend J. Matthews. Dillon Bell was tutored at home in Latin, Greek, German, painting and music, and grew up speaking French as fluently as English. However, by the time he was 14 his family was in financial difficulties and he had no chance of further education or professional training. In 1839 his father's cousin, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, found him a clerical position in the London office of the New Zealand Company.

By 1841 Bell was acting secretary to the company. He was responsible for many of the arrangements for the settlement at Nelson, to which his brother, Angelo, sailed, as secretary to Arthur Wakefield. Within a year Angelo was dead from typhoid. When Bell unfortunately fell foul of the influential company director, Joseph Somes, Wakefield suggested that he might go to Nelson as an agent for absentee land purchasers and immigration agent for the company. Wakefield's suggestion that Bell could work up an income of £2,000 a year was enough to persuade him to emigrate.

Bell arrived in New Zealand on 12 September 1843 aboard the Ursula. William Wakefield sent him to Auckland to buy land for the company and then to Nelson. Bell based himself in Nelson but his income fell far short of expectations. He became involved in local organisations such as the Nelson Institute, attended meetings of landowners and occasionally went on missions for Wakefield, but he was frustrated by his lack of responsibility and promotion. In February 1847 he accepted a commission from Governor George Grey to negotiate with Wairarapa Maori for land purchases. He failed and returned to Nelson until August, when he took up a post as the company's resident agent at New Plymouth.

Bell's work at New Plymouth focused on land acquisition and on distributing to a group of fractious claimants a block previously purchased by Donald McLean. At the end of February 1848 Grey and Bell discussed Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake's proposal to return to Taranaki. They agreed that Kingi's position on the northern bank of the Waitara River should be respected and that Bell should negotiate with Puketapu Maori for land south of the Waitara. Bell carried out these and other negotiations successfully in March and April 1848.

In the meantime William Fox, company agent at Nelson, had resigned and Bell was appointed in his place. On the way to Nelson Bell stopped at Wellington and found William Wakefield seriously affected by a stroke. He stayed to help with company affairs and Wakefield wrote to the London board recommending that Bell be his successor. However, on Wakefield's death Fox arrived in Wellington and, acting on a power of attorney, took over as principal agent. Bell, angry at being outwitted by Fox, attached himself to the governor. In December he accepted a seat on Grey's nominee Legislative Council for New Munster. Fox had rejected the same offer and was furious with his subordinate. Bell's action established his reputation for time serving. He regained some credibility when he resigned the seat in 1850.

Before Bell took up his Nelson post he revisited Wairarapa to see if he could persuade the Maori to sell their land. This time his negotiations seemed about to succeed when the news arrived that the Canterbury settlement would be sited at Banks Peninsula. With no immediate prospect of a body of settlers for Wairarapa the negotiations were broken off and Bell returned to Wellington. In December Grey and Bell negotiated the Waitohi (Picton) land purchase.

In Wellington Bell had met Margaret Joachim Hort, third daughter of the Jewish merchant Abraham Hort. They were married on 2 April 1849, although the refusal of the local Anglican minister, supported by his bishop, to conduct a marriage between partners of different religions, forced them to resort to a civil ceremony. They were to have six sons and one daughter.

After their marriage the Bells moved to Nelson, where again Bell's main business was sorting out company settlers' claims to land and compensation. He played a part in the constitutional agitation of 1849--50, but was not much concerned with constitutional principles, although he now frequently spoke against nomineeism.

When the New Zealand Company folded in 1850, Bell lost his position in Nelson and moved to the Hutt. Grey appointed him commissioner of Crown lands and he became an official member of the Legislative Council, reconstituted by Grey in 1851. In 1853 he was elected to the Wellington Provincial Council and in 1854 was appointed to the Legislative Council established by the Constitution Act 1852.

During the first session of the General Assembly the Legislative Council demanded that it have a member on the Executive Council, and Bell joined James FitzGerald, Frederick Weld and Henry Sewell in office. Sewell regarded him as a good man of business, with a 'plastic mind', and, although not weighty, unlikely to embarrass. Within a few days Bell resigned and returned to Wellington, worried about the health of his wife, Margaret Bell. In the 1855 general election he won a seat in the House of Representatives for the Hutt. During the session of 1856 he briefly held office as colonial treasurer under Sewell.

In November 1856 Bell, having resigned from the House in October, was appointed land claims commissioner. A couple of years later, with Edward Stafford and C. W. Richmond, he took up a large sheep station in Otago. In 1860 he was elected MHR for Wallace, and fought strongly for the creation of Southland as a separate province.

By the early 1860s Bell was one of the settlers most experienced in Maori affairs and land ownership; he had long spoken Maori fluently. He became one of Governor Thomas Gore Browne's chief advisers after the Waitara purchase, which he staunchly defended. When W. B. D. Mantell became native minister in July 1861, Bell took charge of the Native Office, seeming to see no conflict between his positions as an elected member of Parliament and as an administrator. In September he moved resolutions in Parliament which placed the administration of Maori affairs under the native minister and matters which affected imperial interests, chiefly defence, under the governor, a division of responsibility which would allow the colonists to escape financial liability for any war.

His administration of Maori affairs was not particularly efficient or vigorous. He was half-hearted about the 'peace policy' adopted by Grey and Fox after Grey's return to New Zealand in August, and gave little support to the new runanga system which the governor proposed to introduce. When Mantell resigned his portfolio in December, Bell refused to take over the ministerial position, although he continued to administer native affairs until May 1862, when Fox relieved him of the duty.

When Alfred Domett became premier in August 1862, Bell took office as minister of native affairs. He continued to regard himself as an administrator, holding a political post which no one else was willing to hold, and agreed with Domett's policy that the governor should retain responsibility for Maori affairs. In the ministry Bell was easily led by Thomas Russell, who persuaded him to pass the Native Lands Act, later used as a mechanism for the easier purchase of land by the Europeans. He was with Grey when the Tataraimaka block was reoccupied, an action leading to the renewal of the war in Taranaki. He also advised Grey to return the disputed Waitara block to Kingi. Bell acquiesced in Grey's invasion of Waikato and in August 1863 visited Australia to recruit military settlers. He lost office in October, when Domett resigned, and Fox, with a policy of ministerial responsibility for Maori affairs, regained the premiership.

For the next few years Bell played a less active role in national politics. He moved to Dunedin, entered provincial politics, and spent time on his sheep station. He suffered a great deal from eye trouble and tried such remedies as having his eyes bled.

In July 1869 Fox invited Bell to join his ministry without a portfolio. Later in the year Bell and Isaac Featherston were sent to London to plead for the retention of British soldiers and to secure a Treasury guarantee for a loan of £2 million to be spent on immigration and public works. Negotiations concerning the troops were unsuccessful; as a concession the British government gave its guarantee to a £1 million loan.

Bell returned to New Zealand in time for the 1871 general election. He was returned for the seat of Mataura, which he had held since 1866. When Parliament met, the government put him forward as speaker, a position he held until 1875. As a man who had never held strong opinions on anything and was used to adjudicating claims, he made a competent speaker. Bell was created KB in 1873. After deciding to re-contest his seat in the general election at the end of 1875, he then changed his mind and, anticipating that he would be appointed to the Legislative Council, withdrew. The government, however, made a policy decision not to make any new appointments to the council and Bell, to his annoyance, was left out in the cold. In 1877 Harry Atkinson finally made the appointment. He served on the council until 1882.

In 1880 John Hall appointed Bell and Fox to investigate disputed claims arising from the confiscation of Maori land on the west coast of the North Island. They recommended that a considerable amount of land should be returned, but also made it clear that no policy was 'worth a thought' that did not provide for the continued settlement of the country as well as for justice to the Maori.

In October 1880 Hall offered Bell the post of agent general in London. The appointment removed Bell from colonial politics to an environment he found more congenial. He was called on to represent New Zealand at a number of international conferences and exhibitions as well as at the 1887 Colonial Conference. He helped raise loans, interviewed applicants for top New Zealand positions, negotiated steam ship services and administered immigration policies. He had important and delicate diplomatic discussions on French intervention in the Pacific, dealing with the problem of French penal colonies and the future division of the New Hebrides. In these matters Bell's knowledge of French enabled him to play a more significant role in British diplomacy than was usually permitted to colonial representatives. His services saw him created KCMG in 1881 and CB in 1886.

Bell and his family returned to New Zealand in November 1891. The stay was brief. In June the next year, back in London, Margaret Bell died. Bell remained in London until 1896 when he retired to New Zealand and died at his Shag Valley station, near Palmerston, Otago, on 15 July 1898.

Although Bell belonged to a group of early settlers who were undeniably distinguished, appraisals of his personality were always qualified. He was regarded as quick, clever and hard-working, but also as shallow and unstable. He was a good-looking man, tall, with a high forehead and an interesting face marred by drooping eyelids that gave him a rather supercilious appearance. He was, by all accounts, vain. As a young man he was regarded as a great social asset and played hard with the bachelor set and officers of the imperial forces stationed in New Zealand. By his own admission he had a number of pre-marital sexual liaisons with both Maori and European women, which caused gossip and scandal. After his marriage he seems to have settled down and become devoted to his wife and family.

The unsettled circumstances of Bell's youth may have prevented him from attaining a secure identity. Always anxious to please, always charming and witty, he always said yes. People were never quite sure what he meant; they found that he shifted his position, talked around a subject, never came to a decision. He left a remarkable record of reports, dispatches and letters, all in beautiful, clear handwriting, which his father rewarded with payment when he was a child. These are testimony to his inability to say anything concisely. His cast of mind was that of the nineteenth century administrator rather than that of the politician. Although his friends repeatedly turned to him for administrative assistance, they rarely trusted him as a colleague in government and he rarely desired such trust.

RAEWYN DALZIEL

Allan, R. M. Nelson. Wellington, 1965

Dalziel, R. M. The origins of New Zealand diplomacy. Wellington, 1975

Sewell, H. The journal of Henry Sewell, 1853--7. Ed. W. D. McIntyre. 2 vols. Christchurch, 1980

HOW TO CITE THIS BIOGRAPHY:
Dalziel, Raewyn. 'Bell, Francis Dillon 1822 - 1898'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 11 December 2002
URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/

The original version of this biography was published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Volume One (1769-1869), 1990
© Crown Copyright 1990-2003. Published by the
Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Wellington, New Zealand. All rights reserved.

 

Bell, Francis Henry Dillon 1851 - 1936
Lawyer, mayor, politician, prime minister

   

..\DNZB/Related_Links.aspRelated Links..\DNZB/Related_Links.asp

javascript:void(0)Printable Versionjavascript:void(0)

 

javascript:void(0) Francis Henry Dillon Bell, 1914javascript:void(0)

javascript:void(0)Members of the National ministry, 1916javascript:void(0)

 

Francis Henry Dillon Bell, known to his friends and family as Harry, was born at Nelson, New Zealand, on 31 March 1851, the eldest son of the former New Zealand Company agent Francis Dillon Bell and his wife, Margaret Hort. Bell was educated at the Church of England Grammar School in Auckland and the High School of Otago (later Otago Boys' High School), Dunedin, where he was head boy and dux. He entered St John's College, Cambridge, England, in 1869 graduating BA in mathematics in 1873, and was called to the English Bar in 1874. He worked in the chambers of Sir John Gorst, a family friend, and it was presumably as a result of this connection that he came to campaign for the Conservative party in the 1874 election. Bell rejected an offer to remain in England, and returned to Wellington in 1875 to take up a legal practice as junior partner to C. B. Izard.

Bell quickly

Francis Henry Dillon Bell, known to his friends and family as Harry, was born at Nelson, New Zealand, on 31 March 1851, the eldest son of the former New Zealand Company agent Francis Dillon Bell and his wife, Margaret Hort. Bell was educated at the Church of England Grammar School in Auckland and the High School of Otago (later Otago Boys' High School), Dunedin, where he was head boy and dux. He entered St John's College, Cambridge, England, in 1869 graduating BA in mathematics in 1873, and was called to the English Bar in 1874. He worked in the chambers of Sir John Gorst, a family friend, and it was presumably as a result of this connection that he came to campaign for the Conservative party in the 1874 election. Bell rejected an offer to remain in England, and returned to Wellington in 1875 to take up a legal practice as junior partner to C. B. Izard.

Bell quickly made his mark in his profession, particularly as an advocate in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. He was Crown solicitor in Wellington from 1878 to 1890, and twice refused to accept appointment as a judge in the 1880s. In 1875 he and four other barristers began the Colonial Law Journal , which saw the beginning of law reporting in New Zealand. Bell was also partly responsible for collecting arguments and decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal into The New Zealand law reports , the chief reference work for reports of that period. Bell made a special study of the law relating to Maori, and was often engaged in important cases dealing with land and with access to fisheries and lake beds. He married Caroline Robinson at Christchurch on 24 April 1878; they were to have four daughters and four sons. In 1886 Bell became senior partner in the firm which went through various combinations in his lifetime, the last being Bell, Gully, MacKenzie and Evans.

Between 1889 and 1893 Bell was heavily involved as leading trustee in the disposal of the great Cheviot Hills estate of his late father-in-law, William Robinson. In order to resolve family disputes, Bell sold the estate to the Ballance government under the Land and Income Assessment Act 1891, thus unexpectedly paving the way for a new era in state land settlement.

As a rising lawyer and son of a former minister, Bell was soon under pressure to enter politics. He was elected mayor of Wellington in 1891, 1892 and 1896. In response to two typhoid epidemics in the early 1890s he took a determined initiative in giving Wellington its first modern drainage system. He also left the city a free public library and other amenities.

Bell had declined to stand for Parliament in 1881, but came forward unsuccessfully as an independent with a liberal land policy in 1890. In 1892 he contested a crucial Wellington by-election, which was widely regarded as the first major test of the new Liberal government's popularity. Bell as local notable was pitted against an array of ministers. His connection with large landholders was used against him and the government gained a narrow victory.

In 1893 Bell stood successfully as an oppositionist. He had disposed of Cheviot Hills, and had substantial support from prohibitionists and from women voters organised by his wife. He was an improbable politician, being dogmatic and prosaic in style and impatient with questioners; he is said to have been inclined to lose his temper under the raillery of opponents. He proclaimed himself a radical and socialist, agreeing with most Liberal legislation while resenting Premier Richard Seddon's methods of administration. Following the election, the journal Fair Play accused him of having been 'exhilarated by something other than his victory' during a celebration party. Bell sued for £501 damages; he proved to be a poor witness in his own defence and was awarded only £1.

Although Bell showed skill as a constructive critic of bills, his inability to make the transition from courtroom to debating chamber was soon painfully obvious. He could not refrain from addressing the House as he would a not-very-intelligent jury - indeed, he had treated juries in the same way. The House soon had enough of him, and he of the House. The main benefit of this brief essay into politics was Bell's friendship with his benchmate, William Massey.

Bell retired from politics in 1896 and returned to his busy legal practice. Following Robert Stout's appointment as chief justice in 1899, he was soon widely regarded as leader of the New Zealand Bar. He appeared in appeal cases before the Privy Council between 1900 and 1909, when his cogent and meticulous arguments impressed British jurists. Bell was appointed one of New Zealand's first king's counsels in 1907. From 1902 to 1910 he again served as Crown solicitor for Wellington, and from 1901 to 1918 was president of the New Zealand Law Society.

Bell seems to have taken no active part in politics in these years. Following Massey's becoming prime minister in 1912 he was appointed to lead the Legislative Council, the only non-Liberal nominee in 21 years. He soon gained a unique ascendancy by force of personality and incisive intellect. Bell was the leading advocate of an elective Council, based on proportional representation; he apparently regarded this as a bulwark against the possibility of the power of appointment falling into the hands of a radical government. With Massey's support he managed to pass the Legislative Council Act 1914 over the objections of the existing Council. It was to take effect at the first general election after 1 January 1916, but Liberal leader Joseph Ward made its non-operation a condition of his joining the National government in 1915. The act became a dead letter after the First World War.

Although by rank a junior minister Bell became Massey's right-hand man in administration and legislation; in these respects it was a Massey--Bell ministry. He offered to stand down to allow the formation of the National government, but was retained as attorney general. The task of framing bills and regulations to meet the demands of an unprecedented war was primarily undertaken by Bell, in conjunction with John Salmond.

Bell had firm views on New Zealand's responsibilities as partner in the British Empire, supporting conscription and steady overseas reinforcements. Yet he initiated the ultimatum to Britain for an adequate naval convoy in October 1914, threatening to resign if the request was not granted. He was also responsible for inserting into the Military Service Act 1916 a clause allowing exemption on religious grounds. When New Zealand was awarded a mandate over Western Samoa in 1919, Bell drafted the legislation setting up the new government.

In the post-war Reform cabinet, Massey looked more and more to Bell's advice, and Bell held a wide variety of portfolios. Massey's shrewd management of men was complemented by Bell's sage advice on legislation, although the two strong-willed men sometimes clashed in spectacular argument. Bell was acting prime minister in 1921, from 1923 to 1924 and in 1925. In 1922 Bell visited England and represented New Zealand at the League of Nations and at conferences at The Hague and Geneva. Unlike Massey, Bell's devotion to the British Empire co-existed with strong support for the League of Nations. He was also responsible in 1923 for completing the long-overdue reform of New Zealand's system of conveyancing and land transfer. In these years Bell was actively involved in the affairs of Western Samoa, campaigning to preserve the health of Samoans and to extend education with a view to eventual self-government. He brought improvements to the marketing of copra in an effort to strengthen the territory's financial base.

The climax of Bell's political career came on the death of Massey on 10 May 1925. Parliament was not in session, and the Reform Party was without a clearly designated successor to its late chief. In the circumstances, Bell was ideally suited to undertake temporary leadership: he stood apart from party organisation, he had been for some months de facto prime minister and he was known to have no political ambitions. Massey had probably advised the governor general, Lord Jellicoe, to send for Bell, who took office on 14 May, thus becoming the first New Zealand-born prime minister. However, he scrupulously refrained from any activity not of a stop-gap nature, and left the parliamentary Reform Party completely free to choose between the two main contenders, W. Downie Stewart and J. G. Coates. Immediately on Coates's election on 30 May, Bell resigned to make way for him.

The inexperienced Coates was glad to retain Bell as attorney general and minister of external affairs, and at his request Bell accompanied Coates to the Imperial Conference of 1926. Bell opposed the Balfour Report, which was later embodied in the Statute of Westminster 1931. He did not favour the dominions being placed on a level of equality with Great Britain, and hoped that the statute would never become operational in New Zealand. Bell continued to lead the Legislative Council until 1928. He was much consulted during the negotiations which led to the United and Reform parties forming a coalition government in 1931, although he himself opposed the move. He continued his involvement in politics until his death at Lowry Bay, Wellington, on 13 March 1936. Caroline Bell had predeceased him on 8 September 1935.

Bell's aloofness from party strife, his Roman sense of responsibility and his magnanimous approach to public issues - qualities which may have owed something to the Jewish and Quaker elements in his background - entitle him to the rank of statesman. He was appointed a KCMG in 1915, a GCMG in 1923 and a privy counsellor in 1926. He may also be regarded as the supreme example of a tory radical in New Zealand politics. He placed the state above sectional interest and groups advocating its violent overthrow. Yet, on questions involving individual liberty and welfare, he was often found on the left; he was on good terms with Labour MPs and enjoyed arguing with them.

Bell has been described as the outstanding lawyer in New Zealand history, yet he also held high office in an astonishing range of public and sporting organisations. He was at various times president of the Wellington Rugby Football Union and the Wellington Racing Club, and was president of the Wellington Cricket Association from 1893 to 1936. A Freemason for over 60 years, he was grand master in 1894 and 1895. Bell was endowed with remarkable powers of concentration, and could move quickly from one concern to another with apparent ease. He impressed his contemporaries with his powerful, indeed overmastering, personality; he usually ended up by holding the floor at any informal gathering. He could not suffer fools (or sometimes even opposition) gladly, and possessed fearsome powers of invective. Some victims and opponents considered him an arrogant bully. On the other hand, he was renowned as a generous mentor of young colleagues, a genial host and an open-hearted philanthropist. It is difficult to find a parallel to so many-sided a man in New Zealand public life.

W. J. GARDNER

Millen, J. The story of Bell Gully Buddle Weir, 1840--1990. Wellington, 1990

New Zealand Law Society. Portrait of a profession. Ed. R. Cooke. Wellington, 1969

Stewart, W. D. The Right Honourable Sir Francis H. D. Bell. Wellington, 1937

HOW TO CITE THIS BIOGRAPHY:
Gardner, W. J. 'Bell, Francis Henry Dillon 1851 - 1936'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 11 December 2002
URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/

The original version of this biography was published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Volume Two (1870-1900), 1993
© Crown Copyright 1993-2003. Published by the
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