But sadder times were just around the corner. Douglas Bell died in 1898 so his income was no longer a help to his mother. Eliza Ann Gadsden, nee Bell, died in June 1900 (Her husband Thomas Gadsden had died in 1893.) Eliza and Thomas's son William Gadsden died of typhoid in 1900 at Verulam leaving a widow and daughter.
James Colquhoun Bell, always elusive, emerged briefly in Durban as reported in the Natal Mercury 12 Dec 1872:
The Ferdinande – 'James Colquhoun, son of Mrs Bell, widow of the late Port Captain Bell arrived in the Ferdinande. He is, we believe, anxious to get employment here, so that he may be with his family.'
But not long afterwards James Colquhoun fetches up in England marrying Sarah Clark at St Mary Stratford, Bow in September 1874. By 1891 James and his large family were living in South Shields where he worked as a Marine Enameller. He did not return to Natal.
Mary Ann Bell died in October 1899. She had been a widow for thirty years. On her Death Notice, her son Sturges Bourne Bell is listed as 'missing'. He had been involved in and survived a shipwreck in November 1873 but there is further research needed on Sturges's career after that incident. Missing does not necessarily mean 'dead'.
Her other remaining children were George John Head Bell who married Mary Catherine Tonkin; he died in 1904, and Alice Millican Bell who married Alfred Mathias Tilley and died in 1926.
A son named Alfred Thomas Payne Bell, about whom little is known, died 19 March, 1884 in Whitechapel, London.