From Thomas Bell born 1806 of Allendale, U.K.

Bell Family Tree.

Richardson / Liddell / Bell family connection. John Victor Richardson (Jack) born 1887 Lucknow Victoria, at Nicholson in 1922 married Sarah Ann Liddell (Annie) born 1896 in Bairnsdale. Jack Richardson's aunt, Sarah Richardson, born in Mar 1850 in Alston in Cumberland U.K., married William Bell born 1839 in Allendale, the third son of Thomas Bell born in Allendale in 1806, and Margaret Martin, also born in 1806 in Allendale.


Family Crests for Bell and Martin.

Initial research into tracing Sarah Richardson's first husband William Bell was difficult, and as it is such a common name for that time, in England and Australia, nothing was properly confirmed until purchasing the couple's marriage certificate. This certificate enabled tracing of William Bell's parents to Thomas Bell, a Lead Ore Miner from District 15 of Allendale, and his wife Margaret Martin, also from a family of local Lead Miners. Following are a couple of maps, to help get the location bearings, from Alston to Allenheads and the East Allen River.

Map by Peter Briscoe per

A great map showing the intensity of old mines between Allendale town and Allenheads
- Courtesy

A sample of an Allenheads miners contract records from 1780 - Courtesy

At a glance of the above Miners' Contract record, from Allenheads in 1780, from the Blackett / Beaumont mining company, it may be of interest to note each agreement was per quarter, paid a fixed amount in shillings per "Bing" (ie. a heap or mound of diggings approx 8 cwt), and was signed by the head of the gang in each mine. These contracts were known as "Bargains", and miners who proved greater success received greater profits. A closer look divulges some familiar names, being a Thomas Bell, probably our Thomas Bell's father or a close relation, and also a William Martin, highly likely an uncle of Margaret Martin. It was a small world in those days, and only rich people had a horse and could travel, so it was common that neighbours worked the mines together, and often intermarried with those nearby, but the above seem more probable than coincidental.

A good means to quickly and easily peruse research found to date, is via the Bell/Martin timeline as follows -

Bell/Martin timeline - no more details found re Thomas Bell, yet the siblings and parents of Margaret Martin were located.

Margaret's parents John Martin and Jane Chester were both born in nearby Ninebanks, and from the birth records of their children, they appeared to move a few times between Allendale and Ninebanks, probably for work and family reasons. Two census records from 1841 are shown next, the first outlines the immediate family of Thomas Bell and Margaret Martin, including 3rd son William Bell age 5, and the second indicating how it was common for relations to be close and support each other, as in this case of the Martin and the Chester clans, in Allendale.

1841 Census showing a large growing family of Bells to feed, by Thomas mining Lead Ore.

A mine entrance (adit) near Allendale Town - Courtesy

District 15 of Allendale in 1841 showing the extent of the local Martin and Chester families, mostly into Lead Ore Mining.

We know for fact that hard times fell upon the Bell family throughout the next decade. Thomas Bell died sometime between 1841 and 1851 - records show hundreds named "Thomas Bell" dying in Northumberland during this time frame, yet mining accident records show Thomas probably didn't die in a work accident. So Margaret Martin lost her husband, and her father passed away, and moved to Hesley Wells, next door to her mother Jane Chester, her nephew Chester and niece Ann.

1851 Census showing Margaret Martin and her mother Jane Chester, as neighbours at Hesley Well, and both widows.

With no men in these two households to earn a wage, they became paupers, Margaret battling as a Labouring woman / pauper, the 3 sons worked the Lead mines, and the 2 daughters were noted as paupers. It is not know where eldest daughter Mary and our William Bell were at this time, but it was common for children to become house servants or labourers away from home when times were tough financially.

By 1871 Margaret had moved to Westoe in Durham, and was living with two of her children, and an elderly Susannah Martin also originally from Allendale, possibly an aunt or older cousin.


As indicated in the following Timeline Chart of Margaret Martin, she and Thomas are known to have had 6 children, Mary Bell born 1831, Joseph Bell born 1834, Thomas Bell born 1839, William Bell born 1839, Hannah Bell born 1842, and Sarah Bell born in 1844.

For more info about this Bell family please review

Our aim is to concentrate on family who emigrated to Australia, especially for the benefit of family researchers from the U.K., tracing lost family members, who seemed to disappear off the English records. So, this next section is focussed upon William Bell, who was the fourth child, the third son of Thomas Bell and Margaret Martin, born in 1839 in Allendale, Northumberland. After a long process of logical elimination it is believed he arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in May of 1862 on board the Merchant Prince, that is about a year after the 1861 Census, which lists as him living back at home with his mother and family at Allendale, working as a Lead Ore Miner.

Emigration record of William bell on board the Merchant Prince in May of 1862 - recorded as a Labourer.

Original hand written record of William Bell's emigration in 1862.

It appears our William Bell had mixed success with his choice of investments and work sites on the Victorian Gold Fields. Initially it seems he "landed on his feet" so to speak, as he teamed up with William Calvert and Thomas Broadwood, very successful and experienced Gold Miners who had been mining Gold in this region since 1853. As it turned out, William Calvert and Thomas Broadwood were related by later marriages, via William Bell's brother-in-law Emerson Richardson, and it's highly likely William Bell took their advices & picked up on their skills and knowledge while working with these guys.

Regional old time map of mining towns South West of Ballarat, where William Bell first settled in Victoria.

An 1862 Shareholders list in the Atlas Gold Mining Company at Piggoreet near Springdallah.

The Atlas Gold mine basically adjoined two major Gold Mines that were major investments of our Calvert, Coulson, Broadwood, and Liddell family members, being the Try Again and Cleft in the Rock Gold Mines. Please click here for detailed information of these family members and their complex mining operations.

A rare poster of the Nelson and Wellington gold mine at nearby Sebastopol in 1864 with the inset below showing William Bell's mining associates William Calvert and John Russel Calvert as Working Shareholders in the company.

During this time frame, William Bell appears to be quite financially successful, because he became a major Shareholder in Peru Gold Mining Company near the Smythesdale Racecourse. As time would tell, the redemption notice of his substantial shares in this company near the end of 1865, indicates it was not a good investment choice.

Sample Scrip of the Peru Gold Mining Company at Smythesdale Racecourse from 1865.

It seems the Atlas Gold Mining Company at Springdallah was still "All systems go" in 1865.

Similar problems verifying the identity, investments, and movements of our William Bell were initially encountered whilst researching his namesakes in this busy time frame and bustling region near Ballarat, however after days of research, we only found 2 diggers' named William Bell in this area around 1865, one easily differentiating them, as the second one usually identified himself as "William S. Bell".

Investments of 2 diggers named William Bell in the Alston and Weardale Gold Mining Company, at Cambrian Hill in 1867.

From William Bell and Sarah Richardson's marriage Certificate of Dec 1867, we do know the township of Cambrian Hill, about 6 miles south of Ballarat, was where Sarah aged 18, and her Richardson family were living at that time. William Bell was living at Black Lead when he married Sarah, only a few miles away from Cambrian Hill. Taking into consideration their investment in the Alston and weardale Gold Mine, and the fact that William and Sarah Bell had their first child John Joseph Bell in the following year of 1868 at Cambrian Hill, so they were obviously well settled and established in this district.

William and Sarah Bell nee Richardson's wedding Certificate of 1867.

It would seem William Bell did not have much luck investment-wise in Gold companies, after he married Sarah. In February of 1868 he bought some shares in the Daniel Webster Gold Mining company, registered at Ballarat, yet it looks as if it was deemed financially unsuccessful by the Mortgagee in March of the same year.

Investment of shares by William Bell in 1868 with the Daniel Webster Gold Mine.

Bad news in March 1868 about the Daniel Webster Gold Mine at Ballarat.

Business as usual at the Try Again and Atlas Gold Mines at Piggoreet in 1868.

As outlined, one may gather William Bell made a mixed selection of good and not-so-good investment and work decisions, within 5 or 6 years after his arrival in Victoria. It is clear from newspaper cutting and other records, as a married man and becoming the father of John Joseph Bell in 1868 at Cambrian Hill, William Bell decided to move on, and sometime around or after March of 1869, he became an Engine driver at the local Speculator Gold Mine at nearby Winters Flat.

Indicators from Jan 1868 show the Speculator Gold Mine was solid and financially sound at that time.

Most likely the advert William Bell answered re Engine driver position at the Speculator Gold Mine in Mar 1869.

The position of an Engine Driver at any Gold Mine of this period was generally regarded as a serious, and a very dangerous job. Most engines which hauled gold bearing dirt from deep within mine shafts, incorporating 200 or 300 feet of heavy rope or cable, were powered by large steam boilers in separate boiler rooms with big chimney stacks. Such winching systems required diligent and accurate heat, steam, and pressure control, in order to provide adequate and safe pulling power, to raise the gold bearing dirt to the surface. This basic principle is illustrated in the photo below of a Cornish Bob system at Ballarat, that outlines how engine drivers of the time, like William Bell operated such Gold winching systems.

A "Cornish Bob" engine and pump system near Ballarat - mine details and date unknown - Courtesy

William Bell, Shareholder of the Speculator Gold Mining Company at Sebastopol, where employed as an engine driver.

One can see the logic in investing in Shares where one worked, as William Bell did in 1869, and according to the above cutting, it empowered workers to call the Directors to a degree of accountability at meetings. Little did he know his good intentions of this investment, and moreso his job as Engine Driver would eventuate as a bad decision. The following reports of his death on site, due to a gruesome mining accident, show how dangerous the vocation of Engine driver in a Gold mine of this time actually was.

Official Report of William Bell's mining accident in 1869 - Courtesy Ballarat and District Genealogical Society.

Newspaper cutting in the Ballarat Star paper, re death of Sarah Richardson's first husband William Bell in 1869.

As far as William's wife Sarah Bell nee Richardson is concerned, she would probably be regarded as the most unlucky of all of our family who emigrated to Australia. Sarah was pregnant when her husband died tragically in his accident at the Speculator Mine in 1869. Sarah had her second son William Emerson Bell at Campbells Creek, on the edge of Castlemaine, where her Richardson family were living at that time. About 8 years after her first husband William Bell died at Sebastopol, she had moved to East Gippsland where she had met and married Joseph Race, a farmer, in Jan of 1877. Sadly she died in the same year.

Timeline summary of Sarah Race nee Bell nee Richardson in Australia.

For an in depth review of Sarah Richardson's life please go to Richardson Family Tree.

Back to Site Index.

Background into Lead Ore Mining in Northern U.K.

Background into the Gold Rush days near Ballarat Victoria.

From Joseph Richardson born 1721 at Alston, U.K.

From John Richardson's descendants from 1863 born in Australia.

From John Allison born in 1801, Alston U.K.

From John Armstrong born in 1705, Haltwhistle U.K.

From Thomas Bell born 1806 of Allendale, U.K.

From James Broadwood born 1796 of Northumberland, U.K.

From William Calvert born 1791 at Kirkhaugh, U.K.

From John Clementson born 1692 in Garrigill, U.K.

From William Coulson born 1760 in Cumberland, U.K.

From Robert Cochrane born 1778 in Eglington, U.K.

From Edward Hewitson born 1794 in Kirk Linton, U.K.

From John Liddell born 1880s in Ninebanks, U.K.

From Joseph Parker born 1810 at Allendale, U.K.

From James Rowe born 1765 in Cornwall, U.K.

From Nicholas Vipond born 1655 in Alston, U.K.

Letters from by James and William Armstrong in the 1860s.

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