Thompson was baptised at the Westgate Wesleyan chapel in Baildon. He was the third of six boys born to Jeremiah and Mary Bell during their short lives. The boys lost their father in 1833 and their mother in 1838, when Thompson was twelve.
Fortunately there was a large extended family in Baildon and no doubt the Wesleyan congregation would also rally round. Grandma and Grandad Robinson looked after the younger boys, whilst Thompson was apprenticed to a local shoemaker, William Thompson. (I wonder if there was a relationship here also? “Thompson” is a bit unusual as a first name.)
In 1844 once again Thompson and his brothers were bereaved: both of their Robinson grandparents died in that year leaving them homeless. The younger boys went to live with their brother William in Greengates, Bradford. I believe that Thompson, after finishing his apprenticeship, also moved to Bradford. I think he went to live with his Great-aunt Bethia, his grandfather’s sister, in Black Abbey on the other side of the city.
Thompson found not only a home but a wife in his extended family. He married his once-removed cousin Hannah and set up his own business in Providence Street nearby. He is listed in the 1850 Bradford Directory and was living there at the time of the 1851 census with his wife Hannah and children William and Mary.
And then we lose track of him. In the 1861 census Hannah and Mary are on their own, but Hannah is still described as married. In the 1871 census she is a widow so it seems that Thompson, like his parents, did not live to see old age.
Father of Mary, son of Jeremiah and Mary Bell
Born Thompson (sometimes rendered Thomas or Thomas W.) Bell
on 19 June 1826 in Bradford, Yorkshire
Married Hannah Berry on 6 September 1846
No details of death available but before 1871