In this blog I try to answer the question concerning the alias used by John Bell or Billinghurst of Mereworth in the blog “The Story of an Alias- John Bell, Mereworth, Kent.”
I had struck this problem of interchanging of surnames and the use of an alias in earlier Bell research.
One theory I had concerning ‘aliases’ was that perhaps a girl had an illegitimate child, who was baptised in her maiden name and when the girl later marries, the child then takes the surname of the new husband or attaches it as an ‘alias’. An ‘alias’ means that he or she is also known by another name.
If my theory was right in this case I would be looking about 1800 for a female “Billinghurst’ who had later married a man with the surname Bell.
St Lawrence, Mereworth, 2004. Image Copyright- Nola Mackey
I found in the Mereworth Parish Marriage Register, on 9 November 1801, Sarah Billinghurst married Josiah Bell.
A further search of the Mereworth Baptism Register found John, the illegitimate son of Sarah Billinghurst, baptised on 2 November 1800.
Perhaps it should be noted that John is believed to have been Sarah’s first child. She would have been between 35 and 36 years of age at the time.
As there were no records in the Parish Chest Accounts concerning the birth and care of John Billinghurst it may be that Josiah Bell was his father, but he didn’t claim him at his baptism. Whatever the case he certainly took responsibility for him.
After John Billinghurst died in 1860, all his children in subsequent Census Returns, Marriage and Burial Registers are recorded with the Surname of ‘Bell’.
In the 1861 Census Returns for Mereworth, are Thomas Bell aged 26 years, his wife Mary, and daughter Matilda. Also living in the same household are Thomas Bell’s brothers, George, Alexander, Josiah, Henry and Alfred Bell, and his sister Fanny Bell.
In later Census Returns the children are all married and are scattered throughout the village with their own families under the surname ‘Bell’.