Bell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Bell surname arose independently from several different sources. In some instances, it comes from the Old English word "belle" meaning "bell," and was most likely an occupational name for a bell ringer. It may have also been a name for someone who lived near a bell. Bell is also known to have arisen from the English and Scottish given name Bel, which derived from the Old French "beu" or "bel," meaning "handsome." [1]

"From Le Bel, a surname which frequently occurs in Normandy." [2]

Early Origins of the Bell family

The surname Bell was first found in Dumfriesshire. "John Bell appears as a notary in St. Andrews, 1248. A family of the name appears to have been hereditarily connected with the church of Dunkeld. Master David Bell was a canon there, 1263, and William Bell appears as dean, 1329-42. William Bel, vicar of Lamberton, witnessed a charter to Coldingham Priory, 1271." [3]

At one time, the Clan Bell was well known on the Scottish West March of the Scottish and English borders. But in 1587, the Parliament of Scotland passed a statute: "For the quieting and keping in obiedince of the disorderit subjectis inhabitantis of the borders hielands and Ilis." This statute disolved the Clan status. [4]

Early references to the name in England include Ailuuardus filius Bell listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 in Suffolk; Hugo Bel who was in Winton, Hampshire in 1148; Serlo Belle listed in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire in 1190; as well as Roger del Bel, who was in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk of 1209. [5]

Robert le Bell was Mayor of Bristol in 1239. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had many entries for the name typically with the Old French spelling: Nicholas filius Bele in Bedfordshire; Ralph le Bele in Cambridgeshire; and Hugh le Bel, in Oxfordshire; Thomas le Bel in Suffolk. [6]

Early History of the Bell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bell research. Another 268 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1069, 1340, 1350, 1463, 1528, 1587, 1587, 1603, 1896, 1590, 1618, 1577, 1668, 1640, 1648, 1562, 1607, 1647, 1711 and are included under the topic Early Bell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bell Spelling Variations

The name, Bell, occurred in many references, and from time to time, it was spelt Bell, Belle and others.

Early Notables of the Bell family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name during their early history was The Blessed Arthur Bell (1590-1618), also known as Francis Bell, who was a Franciscan and English martyr; Sir Robert Bell (d. 1577) of Beaupre Hall, Norfolk, Speaker of the House of Commons; William Bell (died ca. 1668)...
Another 46 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bell World Ranking

In the United States, the name Bell is the 58th most popular surname with an estimated 290,979 people with that name. [7] However, in Canada, the name Bell is ranked the 78th most popular surname with an estimated 31,373 people with that name. [8] And in Australia, the name Bell is the 41st popular surname with an estimated 42,630 people with that name. [9] New Zealand ranks Bell as 58th with 5,090 people. [10] The United Kingdom ranks Bell as 48th with 83,942 people. [11] South Africa ranks Bell as 920th with 7,585 people. [12]

Ireland Migration of the Bell family to Ireland

Some of the Bell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 83 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bell migration to the United States +

The New World beckoned settlers from the Scottish-English borders. They sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. Some called them, less romantically, the "coffin ships." Among the early settlers bearing the Bell surname who came to North America were:

Bell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mr. John Bell, (b. 1605), aged 30, British settler traveling aboard the ship "Safety" arriving in Virginia in 1635 [13]
  • George Bell, who settled in Virginia in 1638
  • John Bell who settled in Virginia in 1638
  • Christian Bell, who landed in Virginia in 1650 [14]
  • Alexander Bell who settled in Virginia in 1654
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anne Bell, who landed in Virginia in 1713 [14]
  • Chr Bell, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [14]
  • Christopher Bell, who arrived in Virginia in 1716
  • Aaron Bell, who arrived in New England in 1719 [14]
  • Simon Bell, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1734 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Agnus Bell, who settled in Philadelphia in 1802
  • Abraham Bell, who landed in New York, NY in 1816 [14]
  • Anna Bell, aged 5, who arrived in Key West, Fla in 1838 [14]
  • D Bell, aged 24, who landed in Key West, Fla in 1838 [14]
  • Catharine J Bell, who arrived in New York, NY in 1847 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Bell migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bell Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Ann Bell, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Elizabeth Bell, who settled in Nova Scotia in 1765
  • Robert Bell, who was a laborer in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1779 [15]
  • Mr. Derick Bell U.E. who settled in Home District, [Niagara], Lincoln County, Ontario c. 1783 [16]
  • Mr. Duncan Bell U.E. who settled in Fredericksburgh, Cataraqui township, [Greater Napanee], Ontario c. 1783 [16]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bell Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Andrew Bell, who landed in Canada in 1819
  • Agnes Bell, aged 55, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Pacific" from Liverpool, England
  • John Bell, aged 20, a tailor, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the schooner "Sarah" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Thomas Bell, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Bartley" in 1833
  • James Bell, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Neptune" in 1834
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Bell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Bell, (Porter, William, Dalton), English waterman who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life for theft, transported aboard the "Earl Spencer" in May 1813, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1851 [17]
  • Mr. Henry Bell, English convict who was convicted in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Elizabeth" in May 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [18]
  • Mr. John Bell, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Elizabeth" in May 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [18]
  • Miss Ann Bell, (Eliza), (b. 1784), aged 33, Irish needle woman who was convicted in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Canada" on 21st March 1817, arriving in New South Wales, Australia then transported on to Tasmania per "Elizabeth Henrietta" [19]
  • Mr. Charles Bell, British Convict who was convicted in West Riding, Yorkshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Coromandel" on 27th October 1819, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [20]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Bell migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Bell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Bell, who landed in Island of Mana, New Zealand in 1832 aboard the ship Minerva
  • George Bell, who landed in Dundee, New Zealand in 1832
  • F Dillon Bell, who landed in Wellington & Nelson, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Ursula
  • H Gordon Bell, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Lady Lilford
  • James Bell, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Bell migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [21]
Bell Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • James Bell, who settled in Barbados in 1635
  • Mr. James Bell, (b. 1616), aged 19, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Anne and Elizabeth" arriving in Barbados in 1635 [22]
  • Mr. Thomas Bell, (b. 1621), aged 14, British settler traveling aboard the ship "Matthew" arriving in St Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635 [23]
  • Alison Bell, who settled in Barbados in 1670
  • Robert Bell, who settled in Barbados in 1679

Contemporary Notables of the name Bell (post 1700) +

  • Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), Scottish inventor of the telephone, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, emigrated to the United States in 1870, where he was a Professor of Physiology at Boston University, and exhibited his telephone invention in 1870
  • Madison Smartt Bell (b. 1957), American novelist, known for his trilogy of novels about Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution, published 1995–2004
  • Robert Bell (1732-1784), Scottish immigrant to the British colonies in America, one of many early American printers and publishers, best known for printing Thomas Paine's celebrated work, Common Sense
  • Michael John "Mike" Bell (1974-2021), American professional baseball third baseman and coach
  • Marvin Hartley Bell (1937-2020), American poet and teacher who was the first Poet Laureate of the state of Iowa
  • Ronald Nathan Bell (1951-2020), known as Khalis Bayyan, an American composer, singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, saxophonist
  • Carl Compton Bell (1947-2019), American professor of psychiatry and public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Jeffrey Bell (1943-2018), American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Senator from New Jersey, 1978 [24]
  • Bertrand Monroe Bell (1929-2016), American physician and Professor of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Alphonzo Bell (1875-1945), American sliver and bronze Olympic medalist for tennis at the 1904 games
  • ... (Another 366 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Robert William Bell, British Deck Boy from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [25]
  • Mr. Dan Bell, American Third Class Passenger from Detroit, Michigan, United States who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [26]
Grover Shoe factory
  • Mr. Frank W. Bell, American employee of the Grover Shoe factory in Brockton, Massachusetts on 20th March 1905 when the boiler exploded and collapsed the wooden building; he died [27]
Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. John Francis  Bell (1854-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [28]
  • Master Stanley  Bell (1912-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [28]
  • Mrs. Jessie  Bell (1880-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [28]
  • Master Gerald Francis  Bell (1914-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [28]
  • Mrs. Geraldine  Bell (1890-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [28]
  • ... (Another 2 entries are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Hillsborough disaster
  • Simon Bell (1971-1989), English trainee who was attending the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, Yorkshire when the stand allocated area became overcrowded and 96 people were crushed in what became known as the Hillsborough disaster and he died from his injuries [29]
HMS Dorsetshire
  • Douglas Stewart Bell (d. 1945), British Stoker 1st Class aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [30]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. William Bell (b. 1917), Scottish Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve from Edinburgh, Scotland, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [31]
  • Mr. Cyril Kemp Bell (b. 1923), English Ordinary Signalman serving for the Royal Navy from Bardney, Lincolnshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [31]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Thomas William Bell (b. 1915), "Bill" English Able Bodied Seaman from England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [32]
  • Mr. Leonard Hammersley Bell, British Captain, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [32]
  • Mr. Charles Bell, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [32]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Walter Bell, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [33]
  • Mr. James Bell, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [33]
HMS Royal Oak
  • Robert William Bell (1900-1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [34]
  • Ian Bell, British Signalman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [34]
Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie)
  • Jean Mary Bell (1944-1988), English Passenger from Berkshire, England, who flew aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, known as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and died [35]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Joseph Bell (d. 1912), aged 50, English Chief Engineer from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [36]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Hershel Homer Bell, American Fire Controlman Second Class from Illinois, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [37]
  • Mr. Richard Leroy Bell, American Seaman Second Class from California, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [37]


Suggested Readings for the name Bell +

  • Ancestral Lines and Descendants of Frances Emily (Botsfor, Morse and Jean) (Botsford) Bell by Doreen Potter Hanna.
  • Backward Glimpse by Iris Bell.
  • Sir Robert Bell and His Early Virginia Colony Descendants. by James Elton Bell and Frances Jean Bell. Wheatmark, January 2007.

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. ^ Fraser, George MacDonald, The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers HarperCollins Publishers, 1972: Print. (ISBN13: 9780002727464)
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  9. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  11. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  12. ^ https://forebears.io/south-africa/surnames
  13. ^ Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's (Retrieved October 5th 2021, retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  14. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  15. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  16. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  17. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th September 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-spencer
  18. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 1st March 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/elizabeth
  19. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/canada
  20. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/coromandel
  21. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  22. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 23rd September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  23. ^ Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's (Retrieved October 4th 2021, retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  24. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 9) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  25. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  26. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  27. ^ California Digital Newspaper from 21st March 1905 (retrieved on 5th August 2021.) Retrieved from https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=SFC19050321.2.19&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN--------1
  28. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  29. ^ Hillsborough Victims (retreived 21st March 2021). Retreived from https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/15/remembering-96-victims-hillsborough-disaster-30-years-9206566/
  30. ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html
  31. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  32. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  33. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  34. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  35. ^ Pan Am Flight 103's victims: A list of those killed 25 years ago | syracuse.com. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/12/pan_am_flight_103s_victims_a_list_of_those_killed_25_years_ago.html
  36. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  37. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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