BELL, Sir Robert (1589-1639), of Beaupré Hall, Outwell, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 15 Jan 1589,1 1st s. of Sir Edmund Bell† of Southacre, Norf., and Ann, da. of Peter Osborne† of South Fambridge, Essex, Chicksands, Beds., and Ivy Lane, London.2 educ. King’s, Camb. 1606, aged 16.3 m. Mary, da. of Sir Anthony Chester of Chicheley, Bucks., 8s. (5 d.v.p.) 2da.4 suc. fa. 1607;5 kntd. March 1611.6 bur. 31 Oct. 1639.7
J.p. Norf. and I. of Ely, Cambs. 1622-d.;8 commr. subsidy, Norf. 1628,9 sewers, Norf. 1629,10 Lincs. 1631-7,11 Lincs. and Hunts. 1631, 1635,12 gaol delivery, I. of Ely, Cambs. 1631-d.,13 swans, Norf. 1632, 1639,14 drainage of upper levels, Kent and Suss. 1638.15
Bell owed his county status to the achievements of his paternal grandfather, Sir Robert†, who served as Speaker in 1572, became chief baron of the Exchequer in 1577, and acquired an extensive Norfolk estate through marriage.16 Bell’s father, Edmund, consequently enjoyed close ties with leading members of the Norfolk gentry, including his brother-in-law the attorney-general Sir Henry Hobart*, who supervised his will. Other prominent gentry named in the will included Sir Hamon L’Estrange*, who served as an executor, and Sir Edmund Moundeford* and Sir Thomas Holland*, who signed as witnesses. Despite these connections, Edmund was less successful than Sir Robert, and may have chosen to sit in Parliament in 1586 in order to avoid his creditors. On Edmund’s death in 1607, Bell’s wardship was sold for £220 to a family friend, Sir Ralph Hare of Stow Bardolph.17 Upon attaining his majority in 1610, Bell inherited properties in Outwell, Stow Bardolph and Emneth, Norfolk.18
Bell was the first member of his family to sit for the county. Elected to Parliament in 1626, he was named to four bill committees, two of which concerned major pieces of legislation - concealments (14 Feb.) and parliamentary privileges (13 June). The remaining appointments dealt with oaths (11 Feb.) and malt (9 March).19 He was also required to attend a joint conference on the war with Spain (7 March).20 Unlike his grandfather, who was lampooned as ‘Bell the orator’, he made no recorded speeches.21
Bell was buried in Outwell church on 31 Oct. 1639.22 No will, letters of administration or inquisition post mortem have been located.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Chris Kyle
- 1. C142/305/133.
- 2. Vis. Norf. (Harl Soc. xxii), 34.
- 3. Al. Cant.
- 4. J.H. Josselyn, Geneal. Acct. of Descendants of Sir Robert Bell, 13-14.
- 5. PROB 11/111, ff.70-1.
- 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 150, 153.
- 7. MI, Outwell par. church.
- 8. C231/4, ff. 141, 149; SP16/405, f. 49v.
- 9. W. Rye, Norf. State Pprs. 137.
- 10. C231/5, f. 16.
- 11. C181/4, ff. 83v, 149, 170, 201; 181/5, ff. 42v, 66.
- 12. C181/4, f. 93v; 181/5, f. 10.
- 13. C181/4, ff. 102v, 122, 131v, 160, 201v; 181/5, ff. 20, 45, 65v, 98v, 118.
- 14. C181/4, f. 123; 181/5, f. 147v.
- 15. C181/5, ff. 98, 113.
- 16. F. Blomefield, Hist. Norf. vii. 460.
- 17. WARD 9/162, f. 28v.
- 18. PROB 11/111, ff. 70-1.
- 19. Procs. 1626, ii. 21, 238.
- 20. Ibid. 32, 216; iii. 432.
- 21. Stowe 354, f. 18.
- 22. MI, Outwell par. church.