My Great-Great-Grandfather, George Bell was born at East Farleigh in Kent in 1817. He was the eighth child, of a family of twelve born to Thomas and Mary Ann Bell (nee Battlemore).
Over the years I have used all sorts of records to piece together not only the story of my ancestor, George, but also each of his siblings.
From time to time I review what I know, and try to find more information, particularly if new records for Kent become available. Sometimes I get an interesting surprize.
Louisa Bell, the tenth child and fifth daughter was born to Thomas and Mary Bell at East Farleigh in 1821. She was baptised on 18 March 1821 at St Mary’s Parish Church, East Farleigh. I had not found any other information about her through the parish records including the parish relief or burial records, nor any of the English census records. Not one little clue to what had happened to her.
I had found a burial record of an ‘Eliza Bell’ aged eight years, who had been buried in St Mary’s Churchyard on 9 December 1831. By this time Mary Bell the mother had died, and Thomas Bell the widower, had married Jane Larkin. Was this child actually ‘Louisa Bell’ and her step-mother thought the name was ‘Eliza’ ,which sounded very similar? Perhaps the father, Thomas wasn’t sure of the name or age anymore? It was possible of course, especially when I could not find a baptism record of an ‘Eliza Bell’ born between 1820 and 1830 baptised at East Farleigh or surrounding parishes. However, I did find an ‘Eliza Bell’ baptised at Chatham, the daughter of John and Euphemia Bell on the 20 October 1822.
My research had stalled at that point, in that I couldn’t move forward.
Then a couple of weeks ago when I was reviewing my notes and the Kent Family History Parish transcriptions published on CD for ‘Bell’ entries, I could hardly believe my eyes. [One of those Eureka moments famous in family history circles].
There in St Mary’s East Farleigh Marriage Banns Transcriptions for 1839 was a ‘Louisa Bell applying to the parish to have marriage banns read for a marriage to Edward Brooks. I searched all marriage records for East Farleigh and several adjoining parishes over several years, but could not find the actual marriage.
What had happened to ‘Louisa Bell’? Was she dumped at the altar? Did she emigrate and marry elsewhere? Did she elope and change her name?
I tried to find her as a single person in the census with negative results. Then I looked at any married ‘Louisa’s’ who gave the native parish of birth as East Farleigh. Again I struck out.
Then I decided to research Edward Brooks. I found what I believe was him in the 1841 and 1851 census living at ‘Barming’, which is next to East Farleigh, as a single man,the right age and born in the correct place. [A big sigh] Looking at Edward Brooks didn’t solve the puzzle either.
What I need to do, but do not have access to at present, is to look at the original banns, not a transcription. There should be three dates entered showing the days the banns were called in the church. There is only one date for each of the Banns transcriptions, not the three you would expect in a transcription of a document, which is very frustrating. The original banns entry may also tell if permission was granted, or if not, why. They may even tell if the marriage was forbidden!
Oh Louisa Bell-Where art thou?