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Bell Family History

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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Where is the Bell family from?

You can see how Bell families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Bell family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Bell families were found in the USA in 1880. In 1840 there were 434 Bell families living in Ohio. This was about 13% of all the recorded Bell's in the USA. Ohio had the highest population of Bell families in 1840.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Bell surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Bell ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Laborer and Maid were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named Bell. 17% of Bell men worked as a Laborer and 9% of Bell women worked as a Maid. Some less common occupations for Americans named Bell were Truck Driver and Housewife.

View Census data for Bell | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

  • Laborer
    17%
  • Farmer
    15%
  • Salesman
    4%
  • Truck Driver
    3%

Top Female Occupations in 1940

  • Maid
    9%
  • Cook
    6%
  • Housekeeper
    5%
  • Housewife
    5%
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Bell family records will you find?

Census Records

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.

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Passenger Lists

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 USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

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Draft Cards

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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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

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