Our Bell Family in Australia – George Bell, 1846, Picton.

In recent blogs I wrote about my ancestors George Bell and Sarah Sargent’s marriage in Sutton Forest, New South Wales in 1844. This was the first document I had for George Bell, although it was some seven years after his arrival in Australia in 1837.

Soon after marriage George and Sarah moved to the Picton area. This was where their first child was born.

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

BELL GEORGE   1604/1846 V18461604 31A   GEORGE and SARAH

BELL GEORGE   1804/1845 V18451804 31A   GEORGE  and SARAH

Using these references I was able to search for entries 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 31 in the above-mentioned records, and I was able to view a microfilm copy of the original record on AO Reel 5009. You will note the above references are the same except for the entry number. The second is a transcription error in the indexing of the records. There is only one entry 1604, for the baptism of George Bell in 1846. His birth date was stated as 27th November 1845 at Picton.

This was a copy of the Baptism Register for St Thomas’, Narellan, under the Rev Thomas Hassall. This copy was sent to the Colonial Secretary’s Office for the clergy returns in 1846.

BELL,George,1846,Picton,Baptism Transcription

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.  At the time I was able to make a transcription and add appropriate notes. As the church in Picton was not built until after this date, the baptism most likely took place after the Sunday service in the old courthouse with the Rev Thomas Hassall.

“In 1827 Hassall was appointed to the new parish of Cowpastures which he described as “Australia beyond Liverpool”. This was to be his centre of operations for the remainder of his life. At this time Hassall purchased Denbigh estate at Cobbitty which became his headquarters. Here be built Heber Chapel in 1828 which served for many years until St Paul’s Cobbitty was established in 1842.

Hassall’s extensive parish extended as far as Goulburn and Illawarra involving an exhaustive preaching ministry including Cobbitty, Berrima, Bong Bong and Goulburn. He was often referred to as the “galloping parson” and has been described as the first of Australia’s ‘bush parsons’.

Gradually from 1838 onwards, the large parish was reduced to a more manageable circuit, with Hassall being relieved of Goulburn and Mulgoa. Subdivided into dioceses and parishes, clergy were appointed and churches built.

Thomas Hassall died at Denbigh estate on 29 March 1868. He was survived by his wife, Anne Hassall, née Marsden (1794 – 18 June 1885.”

From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hassall_(priest)>


I also have a Bell Family Bible and noted that the birth date of George Bell given there is the 6th November 1845.[ See Family Heirloom-Bell Family Bible, posted 11 February 2017].

These two sources do not agree. Which one is correct?

Are there any other sources I can check to see if they confirm either of these dates? I made a search of the newspapers of the time but did not find a birth notice, for George Bell.

Considering my experience concerning the marriage of George Bell’s parents in 1844, I decided to make a search for the original baptism register of St Thomas’s, Church of England, Narellan. I searched both Ancestry.com and Findmypast for these records, but to my surprise, they are not available there, although many early parish registers of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney are.

One of those that is available is the baptism register of All Saints, Sutton Forest, where George Bell and Sarah Sargent married in 1844. I checked this register online at Ancestry.com to confirmed George Bell, was not also baptized there. I did not find an entry.

Searching online library catalogues I found that the National Library of Australia, State Library of New South Wales, and the Society of Australian Genealogists have this register on microfilm as part of the  Australian Joint Copy Project. Now I need to arrange to get a copy of this record.

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

BELL, George, 1846, Picton, Baptism Transcription

Family History is always interesting and never boring.