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History in Scotland "Big John" Bell   James Bell Robert Lewis Bell
William Montgomery Bell William Bell  Lewis Bell Robert Carstairs Bell John Bell and Children -
Gladys Bell  George Russell Bell, John Bell,
William Maxwell Bell

Migration to Australia

Generation 1: Of the ten children of Lewis Bell b.1793 and Mary Calvert b.1797, born in Dornock, Dumfries, four migrated to Australia - John Bell b.1821, James Bell b.1829, Elizabeth Bell b.1825, and Robert Lewis Bell b.1834.  John, James and Robert Lewis Bell settled in the Geelong area of Victoria. Elizabeth Bell is noted on passenger lists with John Bell travelling from Van Diemen's Land to Port Phillip.

Generation 2: George Bell b.1819, another son of Lewis Bell and Mary Calvert, lived at The Broats, Dumfriesshire. Three of his children also migrated to Australia. Lewis Bell b.1853 arrived in Australia in 1872, and settled at Booligal, NSW. John Bell, his brother, married Anne Carstairs Russell of Golf Hill.  Gladys Bell (see below) was his daughter.

Generation 3: Robert Thomson Bell b 1871, son of George Bell b1819 and Agnes Thomson b 1829, lived at The Broats, Dumfriesshire after his parents. His son, Alan Victor Bell also migrated to Australia. He married his cousin, Janet Bell, daughter of Lewis Bell of Booligal.

Big John Bell

James Bell

Lewis Bell

Robert Lewis Bell  (1834-1881) married Robina Carstairs (1834-1924) lived at Mt. Mercer, which is conspicuous as an extinct volcano. It was a natural and economic focus for the local population. An early coach route to Buniyong passed through Shelford and Mt. Mercer. The 1871 census showed a population of 73. The R.L. Bell children were born in the 1860's and 1870's.  Fire destroyed some station buildings in 1876, but the original family house was saved. 

In 1862, he was present at the first meeting of the Shelford District Road Board, with Thomas Russell as chairman. In 1873, he was on the Shire of Leigh's Middle Riding School Board, overseeing schools of the area. The board also included Alexander Armstrong.

A school was established in 1864 with 27 students, with tenders called by R.L. Bell. The teacher was also the postmaster - Donald Murray. Interestingly, a Sarah Armstrong was the postmistress from 1896-97. However, from 1878 - 1880, he employed a governess, Eleanor Tindall from England, travelling out first-class. Her salary was £50 a year. After her employment at Mt. Mercer, she was employed by other families. 

He was a Councillor on the Leigh Shire Council from 1862-1870, and from 1873-1881, the time of his death.

Robert Lewis Bell died in June 1881 at the age of 47, when he was struck by lightning while travelling in his buggy between Ballarat and Buninyong.

Robert Carstairs Bell was a son of Robert Lewis Bell and Robina Carstairs . At the time of his marriage, he lived on Moorainong (Mooramong), Victoria. At the time of his death on 7th September 1928, he was residing at Spray Farm, Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, and in Melbourne. This Bell family is closely related to the Carstairs, Leslie and Russell families of the same district. For some time, he managed Leslie Manor, near Lake Corangamite, west of Colac. Leslie Manor was later subdivided for soldier settlement.

Both Robert Carstairs Bell and his cousin, John Bell, married girls from the Russell family - Margaret Hester Russell and Anne Russell, of Golf Hill, Victoria.

In his Will, he left £1000 annuity for his wife, Margaret Hester Bell (née Russell), and an annuity to his daughter, Marjorie. Sums of £1000 were also left to his siblings, Mary, Euphemia Leslie Russell and William Maxwell Bell, and to nieces and nephews on their attaining 21 years. Large sums of money were also left to the Presbyterian Church Skipton, Geelong College, Melbourne Hospital, Children's Hospital, Austin Hospital, Women's Hospital and Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

Children of John Bell
(Margaret) Gladys Bell
(1889-1964) was the only daughter of John Bell (brother of Lewis Bell b.1853) and Anne Russell.  She was born at The Leigh, the birthplace of many Bell and Armstrong children.  Gladys lived at Broom Cottage, Ocean Grove, which she purchased in 1933-34. She demolished the front part of the house and replaced it with an impressive two-storey building. She travelled widely, living a flamboyant lifestyle. 

Gladys donated generously to many community projects. These included:-

  • purchasing and refurbishing the previous Smythesdale Church of England building to become the Rokewood Presbyterian Church's Alan Bell Hall in 1952 (named after her brother)
  • building sentry boxes for WW2 soldiers on duty on the Port Phillip coastline
  • providing the first club boat for the Ocean Grove Surf Life saving Club. The "Gladys Bell 11" was in use by 1959 when a training exercise was organised with the crew rowing from Geelong, down the Barwon River to Ocean Grove.  A Max Bell was one of the crew.

Neither she nor any of her brothers, Max, John, Russell and Alan, had any children. What is presently known is that Max died in 1946, John was killed in over France at the age of 21 while serving with the WW1 Royal Air Force, Russell died of wounds and Alan was wounded in France. John, Russell and Alan are listed on the Roll of Honour1914-18, Leigh Shire.

Obituary Notice of Lt. George Russell Bell: -On the 4th December, at Rouen, France, from wounds received 4th November, Lieutenant George Russell Bell, Royal Field Artillery, and formerly of Wurrook South, Shelford, brother of the late Captain John Bell, Australian Flying Corps, and youngest son of Mrs. A. C and the late John Bell, formerly or Lunan, Geelong, aged 25 years.
Source: The Argus Saturday 21 December 1918

Captain John Bell - Australian War Museum Information:
Rank: Captain    Unit: 68th Squadron Australian Flying Corps    Service: Army    Conflict: 1914-1918

Date of death: 27 December 1917    Cause of death: Died of wounds    Cemetery or memorial details: FRANCE 446 Tincourt New British Cemetery

War Grave Register notes: BELL, Capt. John, 68th Sqdn. Australian Flying Corps. Died of wounds 27th Dec., 1917. Age 31. Son of John and Annie Carstairs Bell, of Geelong, Victoria, Autralia. IV. C. 8.

Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army


Obituary Notice of William Maxwell Bell:  William Maxwell Bell, late of Golf Hill. Shelford, V, pastoralist, who died on April 7, 1945, left estate valued at £25,336 realty and £113,269 personal (gross) in Victoria. Testator, who was unmarried, left £10,000 to Geelong Grammar School and pecuniary legacies of £5,000 to John Streeter Manifold (godson), £2,000 to Margaret Gladys Bell (sister), £1,000 each to Marigold Manifold (goddaughter), Peg Rutledge (goddaughter), and Lewis Morton Bell (godson). Other cash legacies include £5,000 to Geelong Hospital; £5,000 to Gee- long and Western District Protestant Orphanage; £2,000 to Ayr Hospital. Queensland; £5,000 to Salvation Army, Victoria; £3,000 to Morongo Presbyterian Girls' College; £2,000 to Geelong Art Gallery; and £1,000 to Mortlake Hospital.
The residue is to be divided equally between Royal Melbourne Hospital, Women's Hospital, Melbourne; Prince Henry's Hospital, Alfred Hospital, Children's Hospital, Melbourne; St Andrew's Presbyterian Intermediate Hospital, East Melbourne; and Aus- tin Hospital for Cancer and Chronic Diseases.

"The Argus" Friday 13 July 1945

William Bell, a Scottish-born pastoralist, and three sons, worked in the Melbourne building trade shortly after their arrival in Australia. They subsequently became land holders by 1848, settled in Yarra Glen and developed Gulf Station. Apr 1848, and from  Mar 1851 with Thos. Armstrong, Gulf Station No2 with Thos. Armstrong from 1840-44, and Gulf Station No 2 from 1870 alone. William Bell died in 1870, but the property remained in his family's hands until WW2. The homestead and outbuildings are heritage-listed today. The family connection, if any, with W. Bell, is uncertain at present. There is no proven link with the researched Bell family.