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John Bell (1818-1888)

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John Bell (1818-1888) of Bell Brothers

1818 Born son of Thomas and Catherine Bell

1841 Lodging in Tynemouth, Northumberland: Mary Bell, born abt 1821, independent means, Catherine Bell, born abt 1822, independent, John Bell, born abt 1821 Northumberland, coal merchant, Isaac Bell, born abt 1816, iron merchant[1]

1851 Catherine Bell 62, annuitant, lived in Newcastle with John Bell 32, ironmaster, proprietor of iron works, Mary J Bell 31, Catherine Bell 29, Henry Bell 22[2]

1856 John Bell, son of Thomas Bell, married Mary Mitchinson Robinson in Newcastle[3]

1865 John Bell, widower, son of Thomas Bell, of Skelton, Yorks. married Margaret Elizabeth Robinson, of Wakefield, in Westminster[4]

1888 Died in Algiers; executors included Thomas Hugh Bell, his nephew, and John Charles Bell, his son[5]

1901 Margaret E Bell 58, widow, lived in Skelton, Yorks, with her daughter Sybil M Bell 17[6]


1888 Obituary [7]

Mr. JOHN BELL, of Middlesbrough, was born on September 23d 1818, and died at his residence at Algiers on Saturday, January 21st, 1888.

Mr. Bell was the third son of the late Alderman Thomas Bell, of the firm of Messrs. Losh, Wilson, & Bell, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Having completed his school education, he was employed at the Walker Ironworks on the Tyne, which belonged to his father's house. Here he remained until the year 1845, when he joined the firm of Bell Brothers, which had just been founded by Sir Lowthian Bell, his eldest brother. Leasing a blast-furnace at Wylam-on-Tyne, the firm of Bell Brothers commenced the career of iron smelters, in which they afterwards took so prominent a position, by producing iron from the coal measures of the surrounding district. This, however, was a precarious and unreliable source of supply, and it was soon manifest that they would require to go farther afield. This duty was undertaken by Mr. John Bell, who went as far as Fifeshire, in order to sink pits there, with a view to working the blackband ironstone resembling that of the West of Scotland. The undertaking did not answer anticipations, but not long afterwards all difficulty as to a suitable and sufficient supply of ironstone was got rid of by the discovery of the main bed of the Cleveland ironstone.

The history of the discovery and development of the main seam of the Cleveland ironstone is so well known, that although it may fitly be told in connection with the career of Mr. John Bell, who was one of its pioneers, it must suffice to remark that after that gentleman had for some time made a special study of the mineral resources of the district, the firm of Bell Brothers acquired a lease of the ironstone underlying the property of the Ward-Jackson family at Normanby, near Middlesbrough. This event was almost coincident with the acquisition of land at Port-Clarence, where three blast-furnaces, built under the superintendence of the senior partner, were erected and set to work in 1854. These were among the first blast-furnaces erected in the Cleveland district. The works at Port-Clarence now embrace twelve furnaces of the largest size; and near to their site the firm of Bell Brothers is now carrying on salt works and erecting steel works for the manufacture of basic steel on the open hearth. In all these developments, and in the acquisition and opening-up of the various mineral fields possessed by the firm, both in the Cleveland district and in the adjoining county of Durham, Mr. John Bell took a part. He and his partners were originators in the development of the railway system of Cleveland, called by the name of that district, which is now incorporated in the North-Eastern system.

Mr. Bell was one of the original members of the Iron and Steel Institute, and he was, moreover, one of the earliest contributors to its proceedings, having, in 1871, in collaboration with the late Mr. Jones, furnished a special report at the request of the Iron Ores Committee of the Institute, on the ores of Northumberland, Durham, and the North Riding of Yorkshire. Living, however, very much at Algiers, on account of his wife's health, he did not find many opportunities of attending the meetings of the Institute.


1888 Obituary [8]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1841 census
  2. 1851 census
  3. BMD
  4. 1865 parish records
  5. National Probate Calendar
  6. 1901 census
  7. 1888 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  8. Engineering 1888 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index