The Bells 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. Bells is also known to have arisen from the English and Scots given name Bel, which derived from the Old French "beu" or "bel," meaning "handsome." CITATION[CLOSE]
Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
"From Le Bel, a surname which frequently occurs in Normandy." CITATION[CLOSE]
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)
Early Origins of the Bells family
The surname Bells was first found in Dumfriesshire
, where they held a family seat
from ancient times, long before the Norman Conquest
in 1066. 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
in 1190; as well as Roger del Bel, who was in the Pipe Rolls
of 1209. CITATION[CLOSE]
Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
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. CITATION[CLOSE]
Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
Early History of the Bells family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bells research.Another 191 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1069, 1587, 1603, 1896, 1590, 1618, 1577, 1668, 1640, 1648, 1562, 1607, 1647, 1711 and are included under the topic Early Bells History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Bells Spelling Variations
Although the name, Bells, appeared in many references, from time to time, the surname was shown with the spellings Bell, Belle and others.
Early Notables of the Bells 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 Bells Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Bells family to Ireland
Some of the Bells family moved to Ireland
, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.Another 241 words (17 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Bells family to the New World and Oceana
Gradually becoming disenchanted with life in Ireland
many of these uprooted families sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships often arrived with only 60 to 70% of their original passenger list, many dying of cholera, typhoid, dysentery or small pox. In North America, some of the first immigrants who could be considered kinsmen of the Bells family name Bells, or who bore a variation of the surname were George Bell, who came to Virginia in 1638; James Bell, who settled in Barbados in 1635; John Bell who settled in Virginia in 1638; Alexander Bell who settled in Virginia in 1654.