Bell Family History

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Bell Name Meaning

Scottish and northern English: from Middle English belle ‘bell’, in various applications; most probably a metonymic occupational name for a bell ringer or bell maker, or a topographic name for someone living ‘at the bell’ (as attested by 14th-century forms such as John atte Belle). This indicates either residence by an actual bell (e.g. a town’s bell in a bell tower, centrally placed to summon meetings, sound the alarm, etc.) or ‘at the sign of the bell’, i.e. a house or inn sign (although surnames derived from house and inn signs are rare in Scots and English). Scottish and northern English: from the medieval personal name Bel. As a man’s name this is from Old French beu, bel ‘handsome’, which was also used as a nickname. As a female name it represents a short form of Isobel, a form of Elizabeth. Scottish: Americanized form of Gaelic Mac Giolla Mhaoil ‘son of the servant of the devotee’ (see Mullen 1). Jewish (Ashkenazic): Americanized form of one or more like-sounding Jewish surnames. Norwegian: habitational name from a farmstead in western Norway named Bell, the origin of which is unexplained. Scandinavian: of English or German origin; in German as a habitational name for someone from Bell in Rhineland, Germany, or possibly from Belle in Westphalia. Americanized spelling of German Böhl or Böll (see Boehle, Boll).

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

Similar surnames: Ball, Beal, Fell, Pell, Bill, Hell, Sell, Ell, Belt, Boll

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Bell Ethnicity Estimate

What are the common regions with the Bell name?

These results combine data from everyone in the AncestryDNA® database with the last name Bell. The Ancestry® ethnicity regions shown are top five most common on average for these people.

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  • England & Wales


  • Ireland & Scotland


  • Germanic Europe


  • Cameroon, Congo, & Southern Bantu Peoples


  • Benin/Togo


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Bell Family Origin

Where is the Bell family from?

Bell Family Occupations

What did your Bell ancestors do for a living?

In 1881, the most common Bell occupation in the UK was Coal Miner. 5% of Bell's were Coal Miners. A less common occupation for the Bell family was Labourer. Coal Miner, Farmer and Agricultural Labourer were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Bell.

View Census data for Bell | Data not to scale

  • Coal Miner

  • Farmer

  • Agricultural Labourer

  • Labourer


Census records can tell you a lot of little known facts about your Bell ancestors, such as occupation. Occupation can tell you about your ancestor's social and economic status.

Bell Historical Records

What Bell family records will you find?

Census Record

There are 2 million census records available for the last name Bell. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Bell census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search 1891 UK census records for Bell

Passenger List

There are 291,000 immigration records available for the last name Bell. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the UK, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

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Draft Card

There are 334,000 military records available for the last name Bell. For the veterans among your Bell ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

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You've only scratched the surface of Bell family history.

Bell Life Expectancy

What is the average Bell lifespan?

Between 1940 and 2004, in the United States, Bell life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1944, and highest in 2002. The average life expectancy for Bell in 1940 was 48, and 73 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Bell

An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your Bell ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family. The SSDI is a searchable database of more than 70 million names. You can find birthdates, death dates, addresses and more.

Famous Bell Family Ancestors

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