The main documentary sources for these notes are John Palmer’s transcriptions of the censuses of Wirksworth hundred for 1841,
of the Wirksworth parish Registers for 1608-1899,
and of the Matlock parish registers for 1637-1856.
We owe this researcher a great debt of gratitude for his indefatigable efforts in publishing materials for local history.
We should also like to thank Geoff Sullivan, a local historian, for sharing his extensive research on Richard H. Bell, Jr. (1893/4-1916).
1. James Bell, of Manchester, Lancashire, printer, still alive in 1819 (the earliest possible date of birth of his son Joseph), whose name is known only from the 1846 marriage record of his son Joseph. We cannot find a plausible match for him in the 1841 or 1851 census, and there is no James Bell of this occupation listed in Pigot’s General and Classified Directory of Manchester and Salford (Manchester, 1841). Only known child:
- 2Joseph Bell, born 1819-20.
2. Joseph Bell, of Matlock, Rowsley, and Great Longstone (in the parish of Bakewell), Derbyshire, son of James Bell, was born 1819-20 (aged 31 in 1851, 41 in 1861) at Manchester, Lancashire, and died (intestate) 28 June 1868 at Great Longstone, aged 48 years, and buried 1 July following in St. Giles Anglican churchyard, Matlock. Joseph Bell, the only person there of this surname, is found as an unmarried man in the 1841 census of Matlock, his age being given as 20-24 years; he was serving as an assistant to the grocer Anthony Leeys. He married 31 May 1846 in Matlock parish church, Lydia Hackett, born probably in 1827 (aged 24 in 1851, 33 in 1861) at Cromford, a chapelry in the parish of Wirksworth, Derbyshire, and baptized there 10 February 1828, living 1891, daughter of Richard Hackett, of Cromford, by the latter’s wife Lydia Fogg. At the time of their marriage in 1846 Joseph Bell is called a miller, of Matlock, and his wife’s residence is given as “Scarthin Wick,” an error for Scarthinick, a hamlet in the parish of Matlock.
Joseph Bell and his wife were at Matlock Cliff in 1846-49, as stated in the baptismal records of their first three children; these give the father’s occupation variously as miller (1846), waggoner (1848), or laborer (1849). They appear with their son Richard and daughter Sarah in the 1851 census of Matlock, his occupation being given as “railway labourer” and his address as Starkholmes Street. They appear at New Inn, Little Rowsley, the parish of Darley, Derbyshire, in the 1861 census, in which Joseph is called a railway guard.
They were at Rowsley (presumably Little Rowsley), in 1858-62, and at Great Longstone, also in Derbyshire, in 1866-67, again as indicated by the places of birth of their children. The name “Rowsley” actually refers to two distinct places: Great Rowsley, in the parish of Bakewell, and Little Rowsley, in the parish of Darley, the two hamlets not always being clearly differentiated in records; we are unable to say for certain which one was the residence of the Bell family. In his daughter Lydia’s birth record of 1858, Joseph is again called a railway guard, of Little Rowsley. In the very carelessly-written record of this same daughter’s marriage in 1886, in which his occupation seems to read “hotel-master,” Joseph Bell is not called deceased; however he had actually died in 1868, and letters of administration were granted for the estate of “Joseph Bell, of Great Longstone,” mentioning his wife Lydia:
On 23 of October 1868 Letters of Administration of all and singular the personal Estate and Effects of Joseph Bell, late of Great Longstone in the parish of Bakewell in the County of Derby, Station Master, deceased, who died on 28 June 1868 at Great Longstone aforesaid, intestate, were granted at the District Registry … at Derby, to Lydia Bell, of Great Longstone aforesaid, the lawful widow and Relict of the deceased…. Effects under £200.
His widow, who is called a “monthly nurse,” appears in the 1881 census of the city of Derby; she was living at 4 Uttoxeter New Road in the household of a Boyce family, with whom she was apparently in service. In 1891 she and four of her children were living at no. 4 Arthur Lane, St. Alkmund parish, Derby; her occupation is given as “living on her own means.” We have not located her in the 1901 census.
- Richard Bell, baptized 11 October 1846 at Matlock, Derbyshire (less than five months after his parents’s marriage). He is presumably the Richard Bell, of Matlock Cliffe, “infant,” who was buried 13 October 1846 in St. Giles churchyard, Matlock.
- 3Richard Henry Bell, baptized (as “Richard Harry”) 9 April 1848 at Matlock.
- Sarah Ann Bell, born at Matlock (per 1861 census), baptized 7 October 1849 at Matlock, alive in 1861.
- Joseph Bell, Jr., of Matlock, born 1851-52 (aged 9 in 1861, 29 in 1881) at Rowsley, alive in 1901. He is called a scholar in 1861. He married by 1877, Fanny ____, born 1848-49 (aged 32 years in 1881), born 1848-49 (aged 32 in 1881) at Ashbourne, Derbyshire. He was enumerated in the parish of Matlock in the 1881 census, in which is called a post office letter carrier; the address is Starkholmes Street, the same street where his parents were living in 1851. He also appears in the 1891 census, with two additional children, and at the Town Hall (where he was serving as caretaker) in the 1901 census, when an otherwise unidentified “relative,” the 68-year-old widow Sarah Wragg, appears in his household. Known issue:
- Frederick Bell, born 1877-78 (aged 3 in 1881) at Matlock Bank.
- Lillian, born 1881-82 (aged 9 in 1891) at Matlock, living 1901.
- Joseph 1887-88 (aged 3 in 1891) at Matlock, died by 1901.
- Frederick Bell [possibly a twin], baptized 1 October 1854 at Darley, Derbyshire, living 1901. He and his younger siblings Alfred, Lydia, Mary, Alice, and Eliza, all unmarried, are found living together at 140 Parliament Street, in St. Werburgh parish, in the 1881 census of Derby, in which he is called a railway porter. He was living unmarried with his mother at Derby in 1891, when he is seemingly (but the entry is not very legible) called a foreman in a dry-goods department. By 1901 he had married and moved into his own household with his wife and his sister Alice, and they are found in the census of that year at 61 St. Helen Street, St. Alkmund Parish, Derby, in which he is stated to be with the “ga[u]rds’ depart[men]t, M.R.C.” He married by 1901, Charlotte ____, born ca. 1862-63 at Derby. No children appear with them in the 1901 census.
- Lydia Bell [possibly a twin], baptized 1 October 1854 at Darley, died shortly before 18 February 1855, when she was buried in St. Helen’s Anglican churchyard, Darley.
- Alfred V. Bell, birth registered 1st quarter 1856, born at “Rowsley” (whether Great or Little Rowsley not being stated); unmarried and a “clerk” in 1881. He was no longer living with his mother in 1891, and we have not located him in the 1901 census.
Lydia Maria Bell, born 25 January 1858 at Little Rowsley (in the parish of Darley), baptized 28 February following at Great Rowsley (in the parish of Bakewell), living 1 October 1915. She probably met her future husband when their two families were living at Derby. she married 29 March 1886 in St. Luke’s Parish Church, Darley, near Matlock, Derbyshire,
Richard Newton Mitchelson, of Shepherd’s Bush, Hammersmith, Fulham, Middlesex (now in Greater London), born 25 October 1855 at Abbey Yard, Spalding, Lincolnshire,, living 1 November 1916, whom see for their issue; he was son of Richard Mitchelson, of Spalding, a valet, and Harriet Newton.
Lydia Bell is called a “tailoress” in 1881, when she is listed in a household in Derby with five of her siblings. At the time of their marriage both were single, he being a “fruiterer & green grocer,” of 98 Gold Hawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, aged 29 years, and she a “tailoress,” of 44 Parliament Street, Darley, aged 27 years. The witnesses were Richard Henry Bell and Eliza Bell. Richard Newton Mitchelson was still a fruiterer, of 98 Gold Hawk Road, in April 1887, when their son Richard was born, and he and his wife are still found there in the 1901 census, in which he is called a “fruiterer, greengrocer, and furniture remover.”
- Mary Ann Bell, born 1859-60 (aged 1 in 1861) at Rowsley, unmarried and a “tailoress” in 1881, like her elder sister Lydia. She was no longer living with her mother in 1891.
- Elizabeth Bell, born mid-March 1861 (aged 3 weeks on 7 April 1861) in Darley (probably at Little Rowsley in Darley), probably died by 1866, when another daughter was named Eliza.
- Alice Bell, baptized 13 April 1862 at Great Rowsley aforesaid, still unmarried in 1901, when she was living in the household of her brother Frederick. She was a “shoe fitter” in 1881, a “stationer’s clerk” in 1891, and an “assistant at stationer’s” in 1901.
- Eliza Bell, baptized 18 November 1866 at Great Longstone, in the parish of Bakewell, Derbyshire, living 1886, when she served with her brother Richard as a witness at the wedding of their sister Lydia. She is called a “paper box maker” in the 1881 census. She is almost certainly the 24-year-old daughter, born at Great Longstone, found in her mother’s household in 1891, although her name is stated as “Lydia.”
- William Bell, baptized 8 November 1867 at Great Longstone, aforesaid. He may have died young, as he does not appear with his siblings in the 1881 census of Derby, nor with his mother in 1891.
3. Richard Henry Bell, son of Joseph Bell and Lydia Hackett, was baptized (as “Richard Harry”) 9 April 1848 at Matlock, and was still alive in 1916. Although the memorial recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commision for his son Richard, who died in 1916, refers to him as “the late Mr. R.H. Bell, of Duffs Rd., North Coast, Durban, Natal,” but this description is anachronistic, and results from the memorial having been “probably put in place in the early 1920s” according to Geoff Sullivan; for Richard Henry Bell most definitely outlived his son. As “Richard Henry Bell” he served with his sister Eliza as a witness at the wedding of their sister Lydia in 1886. He was a scholar in 1861. He married 1872-73 in Derbyshire, Edith Isabel Jepson, born ca. 1853-54 at Manchester, Lancashire, living 1901, daughter of Thomas Godfrey Jepson. As “Richard Hy. Bell, Station Master (R.R. Service),” living at Newlay Station House, he is listed with his wife and children in the 1881 census of Bramley-in-Bramley, Yorkshire. The birth places of his children put him at Leeds, Yorkshire, in 1889-93, at least, and he is found at Pollard Lane, Bramley, a parish in Leeds, in the 1891 census, in which he is called railway station master. He is found in the 1901 census at Station Row, St. Godwalds, Worcestershire, in which he is again called a railway station master; his household included a servant. He later went to Durban, Natal, evidently in 1913 to judge from the death notice and memorial of his son Richard, below. In the enlistment record of the same son, dated 21 August 1915, he is described as a station master with the South African Railway, and his place of residence given as “Moulton House, Pinetown, near Durban.” He later returned to England, and at the time of this son’s death in July 1916 is described as “Mr. R.H. Bell, of Moorgate House, Stoke Prior, and late station-master at Bromsgrove.” Known issue:
- Ernest A. Bell, born ca. 1873-74 at Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire, living 1901. He was living with his paternal grandmother at Derby in 1891, when he is called a railway booking clerk. He and his wife and child were living with his parents in 1901, when he was a railway clerk. He married by 1897, Leah ____, born ca. 1875-76 at Ashford, Derbyshire, living 1901. Only child in 1901:
- Ernest V. Bell, born ca. 1897-98 at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire.
- Lionel Henry Bell, born ca. 1874-75 at Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire, who is recorded as “deaf” in the 1881 census; he was living with his parents in 1881 but not in 1891, so perhaps died young.
- Ida Elsie Bell, born probably in early 1889 at Bramley aforesaid, living 1901.
- Richard Harold Bell, Jr., born in 1893 at Bramley aforesaid, died unmarried and v.p. 19 July 1916, aged 22 years, of wounds sustained two days earlier in action at Delville Wood, France. On 21 August 1915 he enlisted as a private in the South African Infantry, in the "C" Company, 2nd Regiment. Less than eleven months later he was dead, as reported by the local newspaper:
Mr. R.H. Bell, of Moorgate House, Stoke Prior, and late station-master at Bromsgrove, has been notified that his youngest son, Private Richard Harold Bell, South African Infantry, died on July 19th, from wounds received in action two days previously. Private Bell, who was 22 years of age, was formerly engaged in the fitting shop at the Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon Works, Bromsgrove. He served in “G” (Bromsgrove) Company, 8th Worcesters, between two and three years, and until he left this country for South Africa in 1913. He held an appointment as a railway foreman in the latter country, but in 1915 he joined the South African Infantry at Durban, and came over to England to complete the training. He had been at the front rather more than three months when he met his death. A portrait of Private Bell will be published next week.
A fuller notice appears in The Roll of Honour:
Bell, Richard Harold, Private. No. 4568. 2nd Battn. South African Infantry Regt., yst. s. of Richard Henry Bell, of Moorgate House, Stoke Prior, near Bromsgrove, late Station Master of Bromsgrove (Midland Railway Company), by his wife, Edith Isabel, dau. of Thomas Godfrey Jepson; born Newlay, near Framley [recte Bramley], Leeds, co. York, 4 November 1893; educ. Secondary School, Bromsgrove; was for about three years a member of the Bromsgrove Company, 8th Worcestershire Territorial Force; he left for South Africa in October 1913, and up to August 1915, was employed in the Transportation Department of the South African Railways; enlisted in the South African Overseas Contingent at Durban, Natal; served with the Egyptian Expeditionarv Force in Egypt from December 1915, also in France from April, 1916, and died 19 July following, of wounds received in action at Delville Wood on the 18th. Buried in the garden of the advanced dressing station near the church, Longueval, seven miles east-north-east of Albert; unm.
Geoff Sullivan notes that his name appears on a memorial in St. Michael’s church, Stoke Prior, Worcestershire as “H. Bell.”
1. ||Wirksworth area census, 1841 … covering Alderwasley, Ashleyhay, Biggin, Bonsall, Brassington, Callow, Carsington, Cromford, Griffe Grange, Hopton, Ible, Idridghay, Ireton wood, Ironbrooke, Kirk Ireton, Matlock, Middleton, [and] Wirksworth, transcribed by John Palmer, available online at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/census.htm#1841.
|2. ||Wirksworth area census, 1851 … covering Alderwasley, Ashleyhay, Biggin, Bonsall, Brassington, Callow, Carsington, Cromford, Griffe Grange, Hopton, Hulland Ward, Ible, Idridghay, Ireton Wood, Ironbrooke, Kirk Ireton, Matlock, Middleton-by-Wirksworth, Shottle, Tansley, [and] Wirksworth (all in Derbyshire, England), transcribed by John Palmer, available online at
|3. ||Wirksworth area census, 1861 … including Alderwasley, Ashleyhay, Biggin, Bonsall, Brassington, Hulland Ward, Idridgehay, Ireton Wood, Shottle, Callow, Carsington, Cromford, Griffe Grange, Hopton, Ible, Ironbrook, Kirk Ireton, Matlock, Middleton, and Tansley, transcribed by John Palmer, available online at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/census.htm#1861.
A hyperlinked index for the 1871 Census for … Alderwasley, Ashlehay, Biggin, Bonsall, Brassington, Callow, Carsington, Cromford, Griffe Grange, Hopton, Hulland Ward, Ible, Idridghay, Ireton Wood, Ironbrook, Kirk Ireton, Matlock, Middleton, Shottle, Tansley and Wirksworth, transcribed by John Palmer, available online at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/census.htm#1871.
|5. ||Wirksworth Parish Registers: Parish Registers 1608-1899, at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/frontpag.htm#1; Marriage Witnesses 1754-1899, at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/frontpag.htm#19.
|6. ||Matlock Parish Registers, 1637-1856, transcribed by John Palmer, Bernie Freeman, and Ivor Neal, available online at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/MK-X-01.htm.
|7. ||According to the letters of administration of his estate, cited below.
|8. ||According to his burial record.
|9. ||National Burial Index; original record not yet checked.
|10. ||Wirksworth area census, 1841, transcribed by John Palmer, cited above, E16, f15/p4.
|11. ||Civil record of marriage.
|12. ||Wirksworth area census, 1851, transcribed by John Palmer, cited above, Matlock district, Enumeration district 7g, p. 3, HO 107/2150, available online at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/census.htm#1851. The entry reads:
name relat. cond. age birthplace occupation
Joseph Bell head M 31 Lancashire: Manchester railway labourer
Lydia Bell wife M 24 Derbyshire: Cromford
Richard Bell son 3 Derbyshire: Matlock
Sarah Bell dau. 1 Derbyshire: Matlock
|13. ||1861 Census of England, Derbyshire, Darley, Registration district: Bakewell, Subdistrict: Matlock, Enumeration district 7, p. 20; R.G. 9, piece 2541, fo. 86 [Family History Library microfilm no. 542,987]. The entry reads:
name relat. cond. age birthplace occupation
Joseph Bell head M 41 Lancashire: Manchester railway guard
Lydia Bell wife M 33 Derbyshire: Cromford ----
Richard H. Bell son 13 Derbyshire: Matlock scholar
Sarah Bell dau. 11 Derbyshire: Matlock at home
Joseph Bell son 9 Derbyshire: Darley scholar
Frederick Bell son 7 Derbyshire: Darley ----
Alfred V. Bell son 5 Derbyshire: Darley ----
Lydia M. Bell dau. 3 Derbyshire: Darley ----
Mary Ann Bell dau. 1 Derbyshire: Darley ----
Elizabeth Bell dau. 3w Derbyshire: Darley ----
Henry Wilson lodger S 16 Derbyshire: Pilsley railway clerk
|14. ||Derby Register Office, D96/2/6, p. 250.
|15. ||1881 Census of England, Derbyshire, City of Derby, piece 3399, folio 83, p. 1 [Family History Library microfilm no. 1,341,812].
|16. ||1891 Census of England, Derbyshire, Derby, St Alkmund parish, Enumeration District 69, piece RG12/2737, folio 34, p. 28.
|17. ||These baptisms are all from the IGI, except for those of Frederick (1854) and Lydia (1854), which are from the LDS Vital Records Index. Additional details on the baptisms of the first three children have been obtained from Matlock Parish Registers, 1637-1856, transcribed by John Palmer, Bernie Freeman, and Ivor Neal, available online at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/MK-X-01.htm.
|18. ||Matlock Parish Registers, 1637-1856, transcribed by John Palmer, Bernie Freeman, and Ivor Neal, available online at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/MK-X-01.htm.
|19. ||Her middle name is taken from the index to births; original record not yet seen.
|20. ||1881 Census of Derbyshire, piece 3397, folio 53, p. 17 [Family History Library microfilm no. 1,341,812].
|21. ||1891 Census, RG 12/2775, Matlock Registration District, Enumeration District 12, p. 20.
|22. ||1901 Census of England, Derbyshire, West Derby, Matlock, RG13, piece 3266, fo. 85, p. 5.
|23. ||1881 Census of Derbyshire, piece 3397, folio 59, p. 61 [Family History Library microfilm no. 1,341,812]. His birthplace is there given as “Derby Dale,” clearly a mistake for Darley Dale.
|24. ||1901 Census of England, Derbyshire, Derby Southern Division, town of Derby, RG 13, piece 3215, fo. 69, p. 5.
|25. ||National Burial Index; original record not yet checked.
|26. ||Civil record of birth.
|27. ||Civil record of marriage.
|28. ||Civil record of birth.
|29. ||1901 census of England, county of London, borough of Hammersmith, parish of St. Stephens Shepherds Bush, RG13, piece 42, folio 125, p. 42.
|30. ||Marriage registered in the Bakewell district, 1st quarter, 1873, vol. 7b, p. 875.
|31. ||Her father is named in the entry for her son in Roll of Honour, cited below.
|32. ||1881 Census, R.G. 11, piece 4500, folio 40, p. 2, from an extract kindly forwarded by Mr. Michael Sharpe (not himself a Bell descendant), who noticed that the Richard Henry Bell named in this entry was born at Matlock and was the right age (33) to be the one born in 1848.
|33. ||1891 Census of England, Yorkshire, Leeds, Bramley, parish of St. Peter, Enumeration District 3, piece RG12/3673, folio 42, p. 5.
|34. ||1901 census of England, Worcestershire, St. Godwalds, RG13, piece 2800, fo. 43, p. 21.
|35. ||Her birth is registered in the January-March quarter of 1889 in Bramley, vol. 9b, p. 343, but we have not checked the original record.
|36. ||His birth is registered in the October-December quarter of 1893 in Bramley, vol. 9b, p. 342, but we have not checked the original record.
|37. ||Information from Geoff Sullivan, a local historian; death notice, cited below. He is mentioned in Ian Uys, Roll Call: The Delville Wood Story (Rensburg, South Africa, 1983), pp. 130, 131, copies of which were kindly supplied by Geoff Sullivan.
|38. ||Service record of Richard Harold Bell, from a copy kindly supplied by Geoff Sullivan; Casualty Details — Richard Harold Bell, at http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=767957, brought to our attention by Geoff Sullivan.
|39. ||Death notice, Bromsgrove, Droitwich and Redditch Weekly Messenger, 2 September 1916 (death notice), and 9 September 1916 (portrait, reproduced in the present page); both courtesy of Geoff Sullivan.
|40. ||The Roll of Honour: A biographical record of all members of His Majesty’s naval and military forces who have fallen in the war, 5 vols. (1916-1922), 3:21.