Joshua Bell is one of our “key” ancestors in that he changed both his place of residence and his way of life, creating a legacy for the generations to come. He was born in Pannal, near Harrogate, and came from yeoman stock on both sides of his family.
Although Joshua was the eldest son, his brother John seems to be the one who inherited any land they may have owned. John married a year before Joshua and established his family in Pannal. Joshua, however, when he married, moved to his wife’s birthplace of Baildon. Perhaps he and his brother had come to some financial arrangement sufficient for him to purchase land there.
On his wedding record he is described as a husbandman, which could mean either the owner or an employee on a farm. Once settled in Baildon, he is described as a farmer, which implies ownership or the tenancy of land.
After four or five years Joshua began to specialise in the wool rather than the sheep and is described as a “comber”. In the mid-1750s this would still mean combing by hand: the woollen industry was starting to develop, especially in nearby Bradford, but the days of massive rows of steel machinery in specialist mills were yet to come.
Sadly, Joshua’s story is a short one: he died ten years after moving to Baildon. He left his sons a modest property, sufficient to attract Land Tax and the right to vote. They certainly exercised this right as you can see here.
Baptised on 19 June 1731 at Pannal, nr Harrogate, Yorkshire
Married Sarah Cowper on 25 August 1760
Buried 6 November 1770