Last name: Bell

This interesting surname, with variant spellings Bel and Belle, has a number of possible derivations. Firstly, it may be a metonymic occupational name for a bellringer or bellfounder, or a topographical name for someone living "at the bell"; this indicates either residence by an actual bell or "at the sign of the Bell", deriving from the Middle English, Olde English pre 7th Century "belle" meaning bell. Secondly, it may have derived from the medieval given name "Bel". As a man's name this is from the Old French "beu, bel" meaning "handsome", which was also used as a nickname. As a female name it represents a short form of Isobel, a form of Elizabeth. Finally, it may be an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "MacGiolla Mhaoil", "son of the servant of the devotee". The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century (see below). Early recordings include one Robert de la Belle (1222) London. Church recordings show the christening of Mary Bell, an infant, on August 13th 1541, at St. Peter's, Cornhill, London, and the marriage of Margarett Bell to Wylliam Traford on September 13th September 1551, at St. Mary's, Westminster, also in London. One Charles Bell, aged 23 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the "Henry Clay", bound for New York, on April 15th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Seaman Belle, which was dated 1181 - 1187, in "Early London Personal Names", by E. Ekwall, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research www.surnamedb.com 1980 - 2015

Want to dig deeper into your family history? Take a look at our page on building a Family Tree. Or get scientific and enter the exciting world of Ancestral DNA!

Surname Scroll

Enjoy this name printed onto our colourful scroll, printed in Olde English script. An ideal gift. View Details.
PayPal Acceptance Mark
Surname Scroll

Cathy Be
I'm a Bell and believe my name is from Scottish origin

Katie
Just discovered my great-grandmother was a Bell, born in 1893, but I can't seem to find any info on her parents. The belief is that they emigrated from Ireland and I want to see if this is true.

Chris J Bell
Randomly decided to google the origins of my last name. It always seemed like an odd surname to me, so yeah. I see that the 1st name John(y) seems to run in it a lot. Which my father and brother have. I've been wondering if this surname name belongs to a single family tree only, or if multiple family trees started it too. It'd be pretty cool if it is haha.

Chris J Bell
I've also notice that the names Sara, Margaret, and James have ran through my family tree a lot aswell.

William Bell
lots of John, William, and Robert in my line. also, an Alllison, my great grandfather. family lore is that they came fron N. Ireland.

Chris Bell
There were I think three other people at my high school with the last name Bell. I never actually ran into them, but granted my school had about 400 people in my class alone. From what I've heard from my family, we're Scots Irish. Something to do with originating in Scotland and later spreading to Ireland.

wendy Bell
I am trying to find my dads side of the family who where from Burnley Lancashire his name was Grahame Bell and his parent where called Rita and Colin Bell

Debbie
My maiden name was Bell. My great grandfather was called David Bell and originally came from Ayrshire in Scotland.

Robert Bell
I have just traced my BELL lineage through David Bell and Bethea Martin , New Kent County, VA. They were born in 1673 and 1678 respectively. I would love to find out more. Does anyone out there have any info on their parentage. I've traced my back from the two above to me.

Christine Jacques
I have a full family tree of the Bell family ....starting from George Bell born 1751 married to Ann Watson 1771 in Alnwick sourced from the parish register at St Michael's Alnwick, Northumberland... This goes through all history records detailing the Bell family descendants arrival to Wellington New Zealand aboard the "Adelaide" in March 1840...This Family Tree also lists all descendants to present day...It is a fascinating read..

Sandra Morrow (Bell)
My ancestors came from St.Mungo or Hoddam, Scotland. My GGG Grandfather John was born 1805/06 and he married Margaret Carlyle in 1830. If any one may be related to this family, please contact me through ancestry.com if you are on that web site at all.

Phyllis Ford

I was born Margaret Bell on May 5, 1964. I was born in Queens, NY at Booth Memorial. I am looking for any information on family members. you can contact me at: princesbaynative@yahoo.com