Mary Bell, daughter of Thompson Bell and Hannah (nee Berry) was born two weeks before the census which was taken on 30 March 1851 – information nearly as accurate as a birth certificate. The family lived in Providence Street, in White Abbey, not far from her grandparents’ home in Black Abbey.
By the time of the 1861 census Mary’s father had left home. She and her mother were living in Silsbridge Lane nearby. (The Lane has since disappeared, though Silsbridge Street survives.) We hear no more of Thompson Bell: I have not been able to find even a record of his death.
At some point in the next seven years Mary moved to Lancashire. In 1868 she was in Preston, where she gave birth to our ancestor Hiram. The child’s father was named as “William Smith Bell”. I have found no record of a marriage or indeed any other records of that name.
But Mary did get married in Bolton in 1870 to William Shearer – could he have been Hiram’s father?
By 1871 they were back in Bradford. Mary lived in the White Abbey area with her husband William and son Hiram at 24 Summer Street. Her widowed mother was living at number 16 and her Aunt Martha at number 36.
At some point before the 1881 census William and Mary moved away from West Bradford to North Street on the other side of the city. Here William ran a pub and presumably Mary was the barmaid! Hiram was their only child and he was now growing up, becoming old enough to help out. Mary’s mother Hannah Bell came to live with them and she died here in 1883.
In 1887 Hiram left home to get married and the next year Mary and her husband gave up the pub and moved to another house in North Street, number 23.
It was here that Mary died in June 1890, and was laid to rest in the same grave as her mother.
Born mid-March 1851 in Bradford, Yorkshire
Married William Shearer on 1 August 1870 at Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire
Died 1890 and was buried on 18 June in Undercliffe Cemetery