I know very little about John Bell. He was born ca 1610 (based on probable ages of his daughters) but his origins and parentage are unknown to me. He is my 9th great-grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family.
He was of Sandwich when he was gifted land near Nobscusset from the Indian Little Robin on 16 December 1668. In 1721, well after his death, there was a controversy regarding the boundaries of this land. The owner of the property to the west and Samuel and John Berry of Harwich, both claimed ownership of the land. The boundary dispute over this tract of land, later named Bell’s Neck, was settled by John Paine of Eastham, Peter Thatcher of Yarmouth and Shubael Gorham of Yarmouth. His probate information mentions him being of Yarmouth, so he likely lived there late in life, perhaps while being cared for by his daughter and son-in-law.
|Map showing Bell's Neck, Harwich source: Harwich Conservation Trust|
John Bell was of Sandwich by 1643 when he was on the list of men able to bear arms. He left Sandwich for Harwich, perhaps through the influence of Wing and Dillingham who had done the same.
His wife’s name is unknown but from his probate information we know she predeceased him and that they had two daughters: Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth married Richard Berry before January 1682 when their first child was born. Mary married Samuel Nickerson who was born about 1638. I don’t know Mary and Elizabeth’s birth dates but Elizabeth’s husband Richard was born in in 1654 and Mary’s husband Samuel was born ca 1638, so perhaps there was a substantial gap between their births and other children were born to John and his wife that did not survive. I descend from Elizabeth who lived in Yarmouth and then Harwich.
John Bell died before 20 September 1700 when the estate inventory was taken by John Miller and Gershom Hall. On 3 October 1700 letters of administration in probate court were granted to son-in-law Samuel Berry of Harwich, but John had died some years before. He and his wife were taken care of by Samuel Berry. He for three years and she for five years. He left a small estate. Land from Little Robin on east side of Herring River was valued at 11 pounds, 11 shillings.
He is rarely mentioned in records. He was one of 12 men who in 1668 laid out a way.
In 1690 his house is mentioned in a deed.
|Herring River near Bell's Neck source: Harwich Conservation Trust|
From Barnstable County Probate Records, 2:112:
On 3 October, 1700, "Samuel Berry of Harwich" was appointed administrator of the estate "of John Bell formerly of Yarmouth .... who died Intestate." The Inventory of the estate of John Bell .... taken by John Miller and Gershom Hall" 27 September, 1700; "one halfe of the Land gave to sd John Bell by little Robin lying on the aster side of the herring River in Harwich prized att" £11. 10s.; "1 Cow that Samuel Nickersons Daughter had" £2, 10s.; "1 yearling that Samuel Berrys Daughter had" £2.
"Samuel Berry Demands for thre(e) years tending and diets of his sd Father in law John Bell 8£ þ yeare" £24; "And for dietting sd Bells wife 5 years" £15; "Funerall charge of sd Bell and wife £2.”
On 27 September, 1700, Samuel Berry made oath to the inventory.
On 2 October, 1700, the estate of John Bell, "who died Intestate Some years since" was settled; after payment of debts and "Charge of sd Deceased sickness and long Languishing lying", "the Remainder .... If any be shall be Equally divided .... unto .... his two Daughters to say Elizabeth Berry and Mary Nickerson."
If anyone can fill in any of the many holes in my John Bell story, I would very much appreciate hearing from you!
Vernon R. Nickerson, From Pilgrims and Indians...," manuscript
Josiah Paine, History of Harwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts, 1620-1800, 1937
Garrett M. Tunison, History of the Herring River, report, 1997