Bell Family Biography 1818-1973 [REVISED]
Joseph Bell was the Chief Engineer of RMS Titanic. He was from Farlam, Cumbria
1818 The Bell family were yeoman who had been farming for many decades in Farlam. The family home (Farlam House) had been extended many times from the 17th century onwards. The future engineer’s great grandfather (also called Joseph) and his great grandmother Mary have their initials J M B (Bell) 1818 carved over the current front door.
1861 Joseph Bell was born on the 12th of March 1861 in Farlam, to John and Margaret Bell of Farlam, Cumbria. As the first child he was named after his grandfather and great grandfather. He was baptised on the 4th May 1861 at Farlam Church. The young Joseph Bell’s mother Margaret (Watson) came from the next village Talkin, and a similar farming family; she married John on 10th May 1860, at Hayton Church.
1864 A second child Jane was born in 1864 and named after Margaret’s sister. The third child Richard Watson1865-1882 was named after Margaret’s father. The fourth and last child John was born in 1868. Margaret died shortly after John’s birth.
In Farlam Church yard is the family head stone. It records the passing of Joseph (great grandfather) then Margaret, Richard and finally a tribute to Joseph Bell and the engineering staff from the Titanic. The inscription is similar to that found on the Titanic memorial in Southampton.
Joseph’s father John had inherited the family farm from his father in 1849 at the age of 17. His grandmother had brought him up as his mother had also died after the birth of his younger brother. John married Margaret Watson and continued farming in Farlam. It is thought that the children were educated in a private school in the village.
1870 In the 1870’s, following his wife’s death, John moved with his children to Eden Town, Stanwix, Carlisle. The children continued their education at William Harrison’s academy at Earl Street, Carlisle. John’s younger brother Joseph emigrated to Australia on the SS Great Britain. Joseph and his daughter died out there but the rest of the family returned and lived latterly in Stanwix Carlisle.
1881 The young Joseph left Carlisle and went to Newcastle as an apprentice engine fitter at Robert Stephenson’s and Co. George Stephenson was a regular visitor to James Thompson of Farlam Hall and son Robert even made a donation to the new church appeal. Thompson’s collieries were along the fell side and serviced by railways that had been developed in conjunction with the Stephenson’s. Thompson and Sons bought locomotives including the Rocket from Newcastle as well building their own at Kirkhouse. Living only a mile from all this Victorian innovation it presented an attractive alternative to farming.
1892 Joseph married Maud Bates in 1892 in Ripley and had 4 children. Frances John (Frank), 1896. Marjorie Clare, 1899. Eileen Maud 1901 and Ralph Douglas 1908. Jane Bell (sister) married William Hugh Lowthian in 1886 and they spent a number of years living in Ripley where he was a bank manager. It was probably during this time that Joseph met Maud. The two families were close and in 1901 Jane was looking after Frank when the third child was born. At the time of the Titanic disaster William was a bank manager in Carlisle.
1911 In 1911 Joseph was in lodgings in Belfast with his wife and the youngest child. On the census return each lodger has filled in his or her own details. Joseph’s occupation: Chief Engineer SS Olympic, White Star Line. Birthplace Farlam Village, near Carlisle, England. The lodging house was run by Emma Johnston, referred to in Josephs letter to Frank written from the Titanic. The two daughters were being cared for at the family home whilst young Frank was boarding in 1909-1911 at Grosvenor College, Warwick Square, Carlisle, a private school for boys run by William Graham.
1912 After the sinking of the Titanic and the death of her husband, probate was granted in London to Maud and her brother William Ralph Bates. Maud inherited the family farm at Farlam that had only been part of the estate since 1904 after his father died. Although she never lived here, family relatives ran the farm until the farm was sold.
1921 Francis [Frank] John Bell m. Marjorie Sybil Robson in Belper, Derbys. His wife Marjorie died on the 13th November 1926 in Alfreton, Derbys, having on the previous month 26th October given birth to a son, Allan Joseph Bell. Allan Joseph Bell married Dena Taylor in the autumn of 1959 in Belper, Derbyshire.
1928 Francis [Frank] John Bell widower m. Martha Hannah Lewis in the Lambeth Register Office London, on the 21st July 1928.
1929 Eileen Maud Bell m. Gilbert Smith aged 30 years, on 6th July 1929 at St Thomas Church, Stockton Heath, Cheshire.
1938 Ralph Douglas Bell m. Norah Rotherwell in 1938, Ralph Douglas Bell d.3rd May 1977 in Wilmslow, Cheshire, with an estate of the value of £10611.23.
1942 Francis [Frank] John Bell aged 46 eldest son of Joseph Bell, dies of ‘Bronco pneumonia’ at 47 Chandos Crescent, Edgware, Middlesex.
1951 Maude Bell widow of Joseph died 31st March 1951 at Norbury Upper-Road, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury Shropshire. Probate Carlisle 18th July effects £1222 3s. 11d.
1965 Majorie Clare Bell unmarried daughter of the late Joseph & Maude Bell died 21st June 1965 at Shelton Hospital Shrewsbury Shropshire. Administration Carlisle 15th September effects £789.00.
1973 Eileen Maud Bell daughter of the late Joseph & Maude Bell died near Shrewsbury,Shropshire in 1973. Her married name was Mrs Gilbert Smith.
29 February & revised 19 October 2012/Ann Freer