Our Bell Family in Australia – Harriet Bell, 1852, Picton.

My  2x Great Grandfather, George Bell was born in East Farleigh, Kent, England in 1817.

In 1837 he and his brother, James emigrated to Australia as sailors on a convict ship.

George Bell married Sarah Sargent at Sutton Forest, New South Wales in 1844.

This couple settled in Picton, New South Wales and had a family.

Their children were all born at Picton, New South Wales.

George Bell Jr, was born  in 1845 and baptised in 1846. See Our Bell Family in Australia- George Bell, 1846,Picton.

James Bell, was born in 1847. See Our Bell Family in Australia-James Bell, 1847,Picton.

Thomas Bell, was born in 1849. See Our Bell Family in Australia-Thomas Bell, 1849,Picton.

According to the Bell Family Bible I have, after three sons, George and Sarah Bell had a daughter. She was called Harriet, after George Bell’s, sister who had died in East Farleigh, Kent, when George was six years of age.

I checked for references in the online index of the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages in for New South Wales in Sydney at https://bdm.nsw.gov.au/ and found the following.

BELL HARRIET     947/1852 V1852947 56  (  dau  of ) GEORGE and SARAH

 Using this reference I was able to search for an entry in the Archives Authority of New South Wales (now State Records) Genealogical Kit (1988) for baptisms 1788-1855. The early colonial baptism, marriage, and burial records of some 164 volumes cover the time before civil registration in New South Wales. This includes Victoria and Queensland which was part of New South Wales at that time. These are held as Government records by the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages for New South Wales in Sydney.

Many of these records were microfilmed and released to the public in the Archives Authority of New South Wales Genealogical Kit in 1988. Of the 164 volumes copied, only 123 volumes were released in the kit covering the time frame 1788-1855. Volumes 124-164 were not included in the kit.

This was because some of the records contained in the volumes were after 1855 so fell outside the parameters of the historical project and were subject to state privacy laws. Other volumes were not included because they were so fragile and the handling of those volumes would have destroyed them.

Returning to our Bell research I found Volume 56 in the above-mentioned records, and I was able to view a microfilm copy of the original record on AO Reel 5020. This was a copy of the Baptism Register for Wesleyan Camden Circuit under the Rev John Bowes. This copy was sent to the Colonial Secretary’s Office for the clergy returns in 1852.

Although you can view these records at your library you cannot make a printout as it is a condition of use of these records and is stated at the beginning of each film. The copyright belongs to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages.  I was able to make a transcription and add appropriate notes.

Harriet Bell Baptism Transcription

I noted the baptism was in the Wesleyan church, so I investigated that further and found.

The Wesleyan Church, Picton

“On the 4th April, 1849 the Colonial Secretary advised that the Governor of N.S.W. had given approval to allotments of land which had been granted to the Wesleyans in Picton on 4th January, 1849. Shortly after, James Rogers began to build the chapel using convict labour. The original building was 26 feet by 16 feet, the stone being hewn from Stonequarry Creek. The roof was of shingles. The chapel was opened shortly after, in July 1849, but by 1865, because of the influx of population, especially railway men associated with terminal railway activities the little Wesleyan chapel was enlarged, again James Rogers carrying out the work: adding an extra 10 feet on to the back of the church. The early ministers who conducted services at the chapel were George Pickering (1849), J. Bowe (1852), J. Fillingham (1855), C.W. Rigg (1856), W. Clark (1859), S. Wilkinson (1861), J. Watkins (1864) and Richard Amos (1865). ” [1]

The Wesleyan Chapel was not very far from the Bell home at Upper Picton, also known as Redbank. I know this from looking on a map of Picton, but I have also visited the village on several occasions over the years.

The father, George Bell’s occupation was given as a carrier. Thomas Bell (b 1849) in his memoirs recalled helping his father with horse teams when he was about seven years old.

I decided to see if I could find a copy of this baptism through another source such as the church or other archives or libraries.

The Baptism Registers for the Wesleyan Church in New South Wales have not been scanned and put online either through their own, or a subscription website such as ancestry.com or findmypast.

However they have been microfilmed through the Australian Joint Copy Project and are available at the National Library of Australia, State Library of New South Wales and the Society of Australian Genealogists. I found the references through their online catalogues and have arranged to get a copy to add to my data sheet for the birth of Harriet Bell.

I also checked in the newspapers on Trove at the National Library of Australia to see if there was a birth notice or report for Harriet Bell, but found none.

Harriet Bell’s birth entry in the Bell family bible is also the same date as the above baptism transcription, so after adding these references from two separate primary sources to my Birth Data sheet for Harriet Bell I believe she was born at Picton on 15 February 1852. However, I will see if it is further confirmed through the actual church baptism register.

My share document for this baptism transcription can be found under the  Resources and Examples Tab on this website under-

BELL, Harriet, 1852, Picton, Baptism Transcription

[1]  Picton and District Historical and Family History Society Facebook page -Wesleyan Church

From <https://www.facebook.com/878976525498739/posts/redbank-uniting-church-picton-formerly-wesleyan-chapelon-the-4th-april-1849-the-/918616788201379/ downloaded by Nola Mackey, 3 September,2020


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s