The Bell Tree
One of our current aims is to seek a suitable method of setting out relations between ministers in a more user-friendly fashion. There can surely be a better way of doing things than the complicated and repetitive lists of ministers found, for example, under Angus Kennedy. The Bell Tree is the first attempt to present ministerial relationships in an extended family tree. The material is provided in two forms: the full tree contains an extensive account of the descendants of George Bell and Ann Corrie. But that doesn’t help very greatly if you are looking for ministerial connections. Hence there is also an outline version in which only individuals with immediate ministerial connections are mentioned.
I don’t feel that this is a very successful attempt at making things clearer, but perhaps some will find it useful. One thing is certain: that if I persevere with this, I don’t think I shall attempt a full tree of other ministerial families, such as I have given for the Bells.
The Bell Tree, however, does demonstrate a very common feature in the trees that we hope to make: the interwoven-ness of relationships. Not only does the Bell family connect up with a number of ministerial families, there are also links with the legal fraternity – lawyers who had practical input in the legal struggles connected with the Disruption.
It also shows how closely family relationships were in general: there are several cases of two brothers marrying two sisters, or relationships of a similar nature. Agnews, Rosses, Craigies, Moncreiffs and FitzHerberts all appear more than once in this tree, marrying into the Bell line.
The full tree contains little fresh information but it does bring material from many different sources together into one place in one coherent tree. Even when I realised that a full tree was not going to fulfill the original purpose intended, I kept going – such is the addictive power of family research. Besides, when I inherited the book, The Bell Family in Dumfries-shire, it came to me with the tradition that “our family is in that book.” So far the connection between “our family” and the book has eluded me, but perhaps one day I shall discover it, and the full tree given here can then be incorporated into my own family history.