ACKNOWLEDGEMENT WITH THANKS : MARK ROGERS.

From MARK ROGERS , a descendant of CHRISTINA (BELL) QUIRK), I have received images and documents which I shall post A.S.A.P. Many thanks to you , Mark.

JAMES BELL.

____________

James BELL 26

Born: about 1808 in Glasgow, Scotland

Married: to Wilhelmina McLEOD on 29 Sep 1840 at Scots Church Patterson NSW

Died: 6 Feb 1852 in the Williams River area, near Dungog NSW

Buried: 13 Feb 1852 at Anleys Flat, Dungog NSW

Children: see Wilhelmina McLEOD (no 27) for details.

James Bell was convicted of housebreaking in Glasgow on 9 April 1830 and sentenced to 7 years transportation. He had no prior convictions. He was 21 at the time of his trial and was living with his sister (name unknown) in her house at Gallowgate.

James had broken into a cellar in a sinkflat of a tenement on the east side of Glassford St Glasgow on 21 March 1830 (a Sunday) in the company of one other. Apparently he was attempting to break into the stationery warehouse of Russell and McArthur on the floor above. His accomplice escaped but he was captured and subdued (beaten about the head by a woman with a crutch). He maintained he was unaware of the second person in the cellar and that he had been looking for a “Necessary” at the time. An auger was found in the ceiling and his jacket had two skeleton keys and a breakfast knife. The police statement said that Bell was “a bad character but not quite habit repute a thief”. He was to be detained in the Tollbooth, Glasgow until removed for transportation.

On arrival in NSW on the “York” on 17 Jan 1831 he was described as Protestant, Reads (but not Write), single labourer, 5’6”, dark ruddy pock-pitted complexion, dark brown hair, grey eyes. He was assigned to G. Townsend of Hunter River.

George Townsend, to whom James was assigned, was a major landowner in the Patterson district and it appears that James continued to work for him right through until the time of his marriage. Townsend arrived in Sydney in 1826 and was granted 2560 acres between Patterson and the Allyn River. This property became the Trevallyn Estate. In 1831 the property was described by William Edward Riley in his Journal:

“A settler of four years standing, cannot say much in favour of Mr T’s establishment, his hut being small, plastered only in part& without a single glass window to admit light and keep out the rain… He has raised a large quantity of tobacco last year & has at this time upward of three tons of rolled leaf in the press.”

Townsend continued to grow large quantities of tobacco and experimenting with other cask crops including cotton and grapes (neither successful). In 1830 he had 34 convicts and one free man. In 1838 Townsend had 25 convicts, 6 men free by servitude and one Ticket of Leave man, working 50 cleared acres, 40 acres under cultivation and with 7 horses, 130 cattle and 655 sheep. In 1834 Townsend purchased John Webber’s farm (Penshurst) for 1000 Pounds. But financial problems were just around the corner – by early as 1836 Townsend was disposing of, or mortgaging some of his land and by 1841 Townsend was insolvent and was forced to sell Penshurst.

James was granted a Ticket of Leave for the District of Patterson on 1 July 1835 (ref 35/372). This was surrendered and torn up when he obtained his Certificate of Freedom dated 9 August 1838 (ref 38/98). In the 1838 Muster he is recorded at Patterson.

Having served his sentence he was free to marry without approval, which he did in September 1840 to Wilhelmina McLeod at Scots Church, Patterson. James was living at Penshurst at the time. The Minister of Scots Church was Rev. William Ross and it appears that Wilhelmina was a member of the congregation there. Witnesses were Donald McLeod (Wilhelmina’s brother) and Mary McMaster. The current St Anne’s Church Patterson was not opened until 27 Aug 1842 by Rev. Ross, so it appears they were married in an earlier, cruder church.

Probably shortly after his marriage he would have been forced to leave “Penshurst” due to George Townsend’s financial difficulties. Family tradition has it that he farmed for a time at Barties Swamp (near Seaham). The “Gloucester & Raymond Terrace Examiner” on 1 June 1842 reported that Mr Bartie was draining an extensive swamp to cultivate corn and was paying the highest market price for grain from his tennants.

But soon the family moved to “Mulconda” near Bandon Grove. Here the first of his seven children was born. He would have worked at “Mulconda” as a tennant farmer, housing his family in a wooden hut at the base of the hill to the east of the current house on the property. Interestingly, “Mulconda” also grew tobacco, so he may have been able to apply some of his experience with the crop from “Trevallyn”.

By at least 1850 the family had moved to “Mt Pleasant” only about 10 miles distant near Salisbury (and close to the Allyn River property he first arrived at. He farmed in the district as a tennant farmer until his death.

The Maitland Mercury of Saturday 14 Feb 1852 reported that “on Friday last, after a severe illness, Mr James Bell, a respectable settler died, & yesterday the funeral was attended by nearly all the neighbours.” It goes on to describe a serious accident involving the carriage carrying James’ casket.

COMPILED BY MARK ROGERS.

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