BELL, John III (by 1508-59 or later), of Reading, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1508.1

Offices Held

Guardian of the high ward, Reading 1535, member of guild 1539, constable 1540, alderman 1546, mayor 1548-9, 1555-6.2


Nothing certain is known of John Bell’s family. In view of the connexion between the two boroughs, he may have been related to John Bell I of Leominster. A John Bell, possibly the Member’s son, was christened at St. Mary’s, Reading, in 1546 and buried there the next year, and a Margaret Bell was buried there in 1551. The death of a Robert Bell is recorded in the church accounts of St. Lawrence’s for 1548-49 and a Mistress Bell was buried in the same parish in 1556-57.3

Bell first appears on a list of burgesses for 1528-29, although it was not until 1539 that he paid 10s. for entry into the guild. Thereafter he appears as a leading burgess, contributing towards a horse for the Scottish campaign in 1542 and subscribing to the letter which limited the number of burgesses to 30 in 1548. He was returned to Parliament for the second time while serving his second term as mayor and, when still mayor, accepted 20s. in full settlement of the £5 due to him in wages for the 50 days of the Parliament. Since he sat in Parliament only under Mary, it is not surprising that he is not marked as a Protestant standing ‘for the true religion’ in October 1553, or that he did not follow the lead of Sir Anthony Kingston in 1555. During his first term as mayor he devoted the money from the sale of three chalices to paving the streets. He also bought various ornaments from St. Lawrence’s church in 1549, perhaps in the hope of preserving them, and it may have been for a similar reason that he had sold some plate when churchwarden in 1544. In 1556 he presided as mayor over the initial processes of the trial of the Protestant martyr Julins Palmer. He does not appear in the corporation records after 1559.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference.
  • 2. Reading Recs. i. pp. xli, 163, 173-4, 199, 204, 247.
  • 3. Reg. St. Mary’s, Reading, ed. Crawfurd, i. 3; ii. 90, 91; C. E. Kerry, St. Lawrence, Reading, 190-1.
  • 4. Reading Recs. i. 153, 181, 211, 249-50, 257-8; Kerry, 27, 43, 118-19; Foxe, Acts and Mons. viii. 211, 213; Reading Charters, 40.