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William Bell and Flora McCorquodale

The origins and early life in America of William Bell and Flora McCorquodale seem to be largely drawn from family traditions. The information I have found comes from Loyalist Lineages and also secondary sources which claim family sources for their information.

William Bell and Flora McCorquodale were from Castleton parish, Roxburgh shire, Scotland. This area is also known as Liddesdale. Flora's father is reported to be Duncan McCorquodale and another write-up I encountered showed John Bell and Margaret Forrester as the parents of William Bell.

Although there are numerous theories, the origin of the Bell surname is essentially unknown. Blacks The Surnames of Scotland states "The name Bell was common on the Scotish Border for centuries and the Belles are included in the 1587 list of unruly clans in the West Marches. Families of the name long predominated in the parish of Middlebie, insomuch that the ‘Bells of Middlebie’ was a current phrase throughout Dumfriesshire." Ane Act in favours of Johne Erll of Mortoun, Lord Maxwell his friendis and servantis (Acts Parl., III., 387), contains the Muster Roll of the Clansmen at the siege of Stirling in 1585, which resulted in the capitulation of James VI., and gives a list of forty Dumfriesshire Bells, including the chief William Bell called Redcloak and members of other clans associated with them. In The Scotch-Irish, Vol II, by Charles A. Hanna, Baltimore Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968, the Bells are listed under the heading of Border and Lowland Clans in 1547 of Annandale. There is also a listing for Border Clans and Chiefs in 1597 including the Bells of Annandale. Additional data regarding Clan status is that in 1596, thirty-seven hostages were taken from every division of the clans, including the Bells. (Caledonia, III., 112).

Liddesdale is along the border of England and Scotland. It is named after a small river called the "Liddel Water." The downstream western portion forms the border between England and Scotland. Hadrian's wall lies to the south. The castle of the lairds of Liddesdale stood near the junction of Hermitage Water and the Liddel and around it grew up the village of Castleton. Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender, spent his last night in Scotland in Liddesdale before he rode into English territory in 1745 with Scottish clans he had raised up known as "Jacobites", those loyal to James Stewart for the English throne.


Hermitage Castle, north of Castleton, stands on the edge of Hermitage Water, a tributary of the Liddel. It was built by the tyrant William Lord Soulis who was accused in 1320 of conspriring against Robert the Bruce and lost his territory. Hermitage was later considered considered to be the Liddesdale stronghold against the English. It was also at Hermitage that Mary Queen of Scots made her scandalous visit to Lord Bothwell, whom she later wed.


Historically, the Bells were a Border Reivers clan. From about the 14th to mid 17th century, the border reiver clans were notorious for their feuding and raiding. Thievery and murder were common occurrences among the border clans, especially when times were tough. They were an aggressive, ruthless and violent people. Other Border Clans included the Armstrongs, Johnstones, Elliotts, Grahams, and the Douglas clan. The Bells were particularly hostile to the Irvines and Grahams. Some Bells were English families and some were Scottish clans, and like other clans of the region, they could be found on the side of the English one day and on the side of the Scottish the next. The Scottish Bell clan had their main strongholds in Middlebie, Dumfries shire to the west.

The Scottish-English border was divided into three "marches" along both sides and each was governed by a warden who were often as lawless as the Reivers. The old West Marche Clan, one of the eight great riding families of the Scottish Border since the early 1100s, were retainers of the Great House of Douglas and also allied with the best border families through blood and friendship. Their land holdings were extensive, and to survive, they engaged in the ‘reiving’ of the period and participated in many battles against the English. Declared "unruly" by the Scottish Parliament, many of the Clan emigrated to the Ulster Plantation after 1610. After William Bell, called Redcloak, Chief of the Clan of Blackethouse died in 1628, the chiefship became dormant, and without leadership, the clan strength of the Bells ceased to exist.

The Highland Clearances were in full swing the decade just prior to William and Flora's immigration to America. This may have been one cause of their decision to leave for greener pastures. The region where they settled was also filled with Scots so it is likely they either knew friends or relatives who had previously emigrated or perhaps they were recruited by an agent looking for individuals to occupy land for the purposes of an individual in America obtaining a land patent.

William and Flora left Scotland in May 1772 with their children and William's sister Isabel Bell and arrived in June. They travelled with two other families, the Telfords and the Blakes. They went up the Hudson to a Scottish settlement at, or near, Fort Edward in Charlotte County (now Washington County). "William set up as an innkeeper. During the American Revolution the family left their farm in Charlotte county, and William Sr., and sons William Jr. and Duncan, joined Roger's Rangers (King's Rangers, under Major James Rogers). After 1784 they received grants of land in Fredericksburgh - William Jr. - East 1/2, and Duncan - West 1/2, Lot 9, Concession 1. William returned to Fort Edward to get his wife and daughters, then came to live near his sons (lot unknown)."

Where the Bell family lived exactly in New York is unknown since "Fort Edward" may be a generalization for the area where they lived, but it appears they lived southeast of Fort Edward, in Kingsbury. The Telfords and Blakes first lived at East Greenwich near New Perth at a place called "Fitch's Point."

When they left America for loyalist territories is also unknown. The King's Rangers were not raised until May 1, 1779 and since William was charged with conspiring with the British in 1780 it is highly unlikely he was yet enlisted. The settlements in the area where a hotspot in the northern theatre of the war. In June 1777 General Burgoyne left Montreal with 6000 men and The Iroquois were allies of the British. In 1777, an Iroquois scouting party led by a chief called Le Loup (the wolf) killed the Allen family in ther home in Argyle just east of Fort Edward. On July 27, 1777, near Fort Edward, and as General Burgoyne was making his way south, Iroquois scouts murdered and scaped Jane McCrea who was to marry a loyalist soldier. Some of the residents then fled in fear to the loyalist stronghold at Fort Edward. The following year, on April 17, 1778, George Telford, William Blake, and two other men were summoned before the Albany County Board of Commissioners for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies "for going to the Enemy." "On August 29th, 1780, Joseph Hawkins, Thomas Yarns and William Bell were apprehended by the order of Albert Baker, John Moss, and Noah Pain, three of the justices of the peace of Charlotte County, and brought before the Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies, at Albany, charged with having been with the enemy."

Minutes of the Commissioners for detecting and defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York, Albany Sessions 1778-1781, Volume 2, published by the State of New York, Albany, 1909.

1780 Aug. 29. Joseph Hawkins, Thomas Yarns, William Ball and William Griffen having been apprehended by Order of Albert Baker, John Moss & Noah Pain Esqrs. three of the Justices of the peace for the County of Charlotte were brought before the Board under Guard and it appearing from the charges transmitted by the said Justices that the said prisoners are dangerous & disaffected Persons and that they have been with the enemy-- It is therefore resolved that they be committed and a mittimus be made out for them -- Deborah Baker was brought before the board by Col. Henry K. Van Rensselaer as an evidence against Thomas Blewer and the said Deborah Baker being examined saith as follows (to wit) (see examination on file) Adjourned -- Minutes of Commissioners for Conspiracies State of New York p. 508

1780 Aug. 30. Met August 30th August 1780 Present: John M. Beekman, Samuel Stringer, Mathew Visscher An Act for the Legislature of this State entitled “An Act for the Removal of the Families of Persons who have joined the enemy passed 1st day of July 1780 was laid before the Board and as it is highly Necessary the said Act should be put into immediate Execution and as there are not a sufficient number of printed Copies for the different districts therefore ordered that the secretary to this Board make copies of the said Act for every district in this County and that the same be forthwith transmitted to the Justices of the said district in order that no delay may be occasioned in the Execution of the same -- Adjourned -- Minutes of Commissioners for Conspiracies State of New York p. 508

1780 Sept. 22. Met Albany 22nd September 1780 Present: John M. Beekman, Jeremiah Van Renssalaer, Mathew Visscher, Samuel Stringer Noah Pain Esqr. one of the Justices of the peace for the County of Charlotte appeared before the Board and laid before us several Examinations taken by him respecting Thomas Yarns and others now here confined in Goal which Examination’s are in the following words (to wit)(see examinations on file)-- Adjourned --Minutes of Commissioners for Conspiracies State of New York p. 529

1780 Dec. 4. Thomas Yarns was brought before the Board and examined and then ordered to be Recommitted -- Minutes of Commissioners for Conspiracies State of New York p. 592

1780 Dec. 12. A Letter from Ebenezer Clark and Alexander McNit Esqr. two of the Commissioners for Conspiracies for the County of Charlotte dated New Perth 2nd Instant was laid before the Board setting forth that they inclose a Petition signed by sundry of the Inhabitants of Kingsbury in Favour of Thomas Yarns, William Griffin and William Bell who are at present in Confinement resolved that the said Petition be taken into Consideration at some future Day -- ~~Minutes of Commissioners for Conspiracies State of New York p. 596

1781 Feb. 5. Met Albany 5th February 1781 Present: John M. Beeckman, Samuel Stringer, Isaac D. Fonda Resolved that Thomas Yarns be discharged from Confinement on entering into a Recognizance for his good Behaviour doing his duty and appearing before any three of the Commissioners for Conspiracies when thereunto required during the Continuance of the present war with Great Britain. Thomas Yarns of Kingsbury in Charlotte County Farmer in £100 Rowland Perry of Palmertown in the County of Albany Farmer his Bail in £100 As the above mentioned Thomas Yarns live[s] upon the Frontiers and has it in his Power to aid and Comfort the Enemy resolved that he be ordered to remove into the Interior Parts of this State by the first day of May next -- Adjourned -- Minutes of Commissioners for Conspiracies State of New York p. 627

Children:

1. William McCorquodale Bell II b. 1759 in Castleton parish, d. April 4, 1837 in Camden Twp, married Anne Carscallan, daughter of Edward Carscallan and Elizabeth Hill, Apr 5, 1785.

"Was a member of the King's ("Roger's") Rangers. In 1784 he was allocated to Fredericksburgh (3rd Town), Concession 1, Lot 9, East 1/2 (100 acres). Later moved to Camden Twp. Said to have been 1st Captain of militia in Lennox Co. (before it was merged with Addington Co.). His Commission was signed by H. Spencer, a membr of the first Upper Canada legislature. Once married, he and wife Anne moved to Newburgh, settling on a farm on the south side of the Napanee River, about a mile east of the village of Newburgh. There they had a family of 8 children: William, David, James, John, Edward, Helen, Isabella, and Fraser. Ref: Loyalist Lineages pp.43, 118, "Bells of Fort Edward" by Dr. Burleigh. Buried in Greer Cemetery (ref. Sharon Cadieux)."

Richard Ripley's Account

Another source indicates substantially different information and I have no idea if it is reliable or not. This person identifies himself as "Richard Ripley, MA, is a member of APG Association of Professional Genealogists (Westminster, Colorado) and OGS Ontario Genealogical Society (Toronto, Ontario). This family tree, CD, and DFNW Society are registered with APG. Nevertheless, there may be some unintentional errors or omissions in some entries here." However, another individual by the name of Paul Lozo disputes his findings as unreliable and it does appear that Ripley's findings may be suspect. The following is Ripley's research.

William Bell married Flora Cockeram on May 24, 1759 in Whickham, Durham England. For this he cites The registers of Whickham, in the county of Durham: marriages, 1579-1812. Church of England. Parish Church of Whickham (Durhamshire). Salt Lake City : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1974.

Children:

1. William Bell II, Lieutenant Colonel.

William Bell is listed as Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Officer, on the Roll of the 1st Regiment, Hastings County, Midland District, Upper Canada Militia, on June 4, 1818.

Was a member of the King's ("Roger's") Rangers. In 1784 he was allocated to Fredericksburgh (3rd Town), Concession 1, Lot 9, East 1/2 (100 acres). Later moved to Camden Twp. Said to have been 1st Captain of militia in Lennox Co. (before it was merged with Addington Co.). His Commission was signed by H. Spencer, a membr of the first Upper Canada legislature. Once married, he and wife Anne moved to Newburgh, settling on a farm on the south side of the Napanee River, about a mile east of the village of Newburgh. There they had a family of 8 children: William, David, James, John, Edward, Helen, Isabella, and Fraser. Ref: Loyalist Lineages pp.43, 118, "Bells of Fort Edward" by Dr. Burleigh. Buried in Greer Cemetery (ref. Sharon Cadieux).

From Paul C. Lozo, December 2002... William Bell is found in a Loyalist document dated 1783..."Return of Names...of a detachment of the King's Rangers commanded by Major James Rogers. Quartred at St. John's 21st January 1783".. which Paul obtained from the War Office Records, a copy also in the National Archives, Ottawa) (1) Bell, William of Castleton (Vermont), age 23 years 2 months (birth date 1760) 5 feet 11 inches, service 2 years 8months).

Salem, New York

Fort Edward


Notes: