Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Bluff Lighthouse Family

Captain Bell had literally been out of the picture since his death in 1869, of an abscess on the lung. The family had struggled on with some help from George Cato and were living at Conch Villa on the Bluff. Regrettably no photograph of this oft-mentioned residence has been found. Thomas Alfred Gadsden married Eliza Ann Bell at Conch Villa in August 1873. Ellen Harriet Bell married Edward Baxter in 1870 at the 'Port Captain's Residence, Addington, Durban, Natal'. It was as though Mary Ann Bell was anxious to get as many of her daughters off her hands as possible. Jessie McGregor Bell, at the age of 17, married James Pascoe Martin in April 1874.  Martin was Engineer of the steamer Basuto at the time of their marriage. Speedily following her sister down the aisle, Sarah Scott Bell married Charles George Pay at Conch Villa in May 1874. 

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 other than his birth in Durban in December 1860, died 19 March, 1884 in Whitechapel, London. His Death Certificate could be acquired from the GRO to find out cause of death and any other useful nuggets.

Ella Horne's house remained as a Bell family reminder for many years at the corner of Essenwood Road Durban until sadly it burnt down. Ella, recently deceased, was a descendant of Captain Bell's through his daughter Alice Millican Bell who married Alfred Mathias Tilley.

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