BELL, JAMES 
- Born: 1794ca Died: 1872
County surveyor for Co. Longford, 1834-1872. James Bell, who was born circa 1794, was practising as an architect in Trim in 1824, when he is listed as such in Pigot & Co.'s City of Dublin and Hibernian Provincial Directory. He had already designed the town's Wellington monument, a Corinthian column topped by a statue of Wellington by THOMAS KIRK , which was erected in 1817. Bendell records survey work by Bell in Co. Armagh in 1827.(1) In May 1828, when he came to Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford, to advise on repairs to a chimney flue and to the library, he was described by Maria Edgeworth as 'a plain practical chubby-innocent looking ruddy rough-faced youngish man with hair roughed up anyhow'.(2) The following month he gave advice on the new house being built at Black Castle, Co. Meath, for the Edgeworths' friends the Ruxton Fitzherberts,(3) and in April 1829 Maria Edgeworth mentions that 'Mr Bell the most obliging of builders and architects' was buying timber and slates in Dublin for two houses which she proposed building in Edgeworthstown village.(4) In 1834 he was appointed county surveyor for Co. Longford.(5) A letter from Maria Edgeworth of 10 June 1834 suggests that he had hoped to hold the job while continuing to live in Trim: '…I am sure…that the Grand Jury of the County of Longford will insist upon Mr Bells residence in this county if he accepts the Superintendantship of our roads and his scheme of a clerk and an office in Edgeworthstown and visits from time to time as the case might be will never do…'.(6) This indeed seems to have been the case. Bell held the post until his death at the age of seventy-eight on 10 May 1872, his address being given in the directories as Newtownforbes, Co. Longford.(7) He was the father of JAMES BELL . (8)
The Irish Architectural Archive holds a set of designs for an inn at Kells by Bell, signed and dated 1832 (Guinness Collection, Acc. 96/068.6/4/1-3).
ICEI: founder member, 1835.(9)
Addresses: Trim, Co. Meath, 1824; Mullaghglass, Co. Armagh, 1827;(10) Newtownforbes, Co. Longford, <=1849(11) until death.
All information in this entry not otherwise attributed is from Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007),95-96, which gives the fullest account of Bell's career.
(1) Sarah Bendall, ed., Dictionary of Land Surveyors and Local Map-Makers of Great Britain and Ireland 1530-1850 (2nd edition, 1997), II, 34.
(2) Maria Edgeworth to Fanny Edgeworth, 20 May 1828. The library repairs were probably to the roof of the 'lean to', mentioned by Maria Edgeworth in a letter to Harriet Butler(Edgeworth) of 22 Dec 1831 (information from Christina Colvin).
(3) Mrs Edgeworth to Mrs Beaufort, 8 Jun 1828 (information from Christina Colvin).
(4) Maria Edgeworth to Fanny Wilson (Edgeworth), 13 Apr 1829, and to C.S. Edgeworth, 16 Jul 1829 (information from Christina Colvin).
(5) Dublin Evening Post, 20 May 1834.
(6) Maria Edgeworth to Harriet Butler (Edgeworth), 10 Jun 1834 (information from Christina Colvin).
(7) Thom's directories ,1856-1872.
(8) www.familysearch.org records the marriage of a James Bell to a Mary Booker in the diocese of Meath in 1822.
(9) Photocopy of transcript of minutes of first meeting of Engineers' Society of Ireland, 6 Aug 1835, in IAA, Jones File F73.
(10) See note 1, above.
(11) See note 1, above.
12 work entries listed in chronological order for BELL, JAMES 
|Building:||CO. MEATH, TRIM, WELLINGTON PLACE, WELLINGTON MONUMENT|
|Nature:||Corinthian column, designed by JB, figure by Thomas Kirk.|
|Refs:||Riocht na Midhe III, no. 4, 331; Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 519|
|Building:||CO. MEATH, CLONARD, CHURCH (CI)|
|Nature:||Vestry resolves to settle balance due to JB for building (i.e. restoring?) and enclosing church , May 1819, and to ask him to carry out additional repairs 'in order to complete said church' (reslating of roof, new backs to pews). Further payments to him totalling £98.11s.4½d. 'for repairing the parish church' made in 1820,1822,1823.
|Refs:||RCB Library, Clonard parish, Diocese of Meath, vestry minutes; RCB Library, 'An account of of all sums of money levied for building and repairing of churches...June 1824' (information from Frank Keohane).|
|Building:||CO. MEATH, BLACK CASTLE|
|Nature:||Architectural advice on new house|
|Refs:||Mrs Edgeworth to Mrs Beaufort, 8 Jun 1828 (information from Christina Colvin).|
|Building:||CO. LONGFORD, EDGEWORTHSTOWN HOUSE|
|Nature:||Repairs to library and chimney flue|
|Refs:||Maria Edgeworth to Fanny Edgeworth, 20 May 1828, and to Harriet Butler (Edgeworth), 22 Dec 1831 (information from Christina Colivn).|
|Building:||CO. LONGFORD, EDGEWORTHSTOWN, HOUSES (002)|
|Refs:||Maria Edgeworth to Fanny Wilson(Edgeworth) 13 Apr 1829, and to C.S. Edgeworth, 16 Jul 1829 (information from Christina Colvin)|
|Building:||CO. LONGFORD, EDGEWORTHSTOWN, MARKET HOUSE|
|Nature:||2-storey, 5-bay block with pediment bearing Edgeworth arms.|
|Refs:||Maria Edgeworth to Mrs Edgeworth, 25 Nov 1829 (information from Christina Colvin); Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 286.|
|Building:||CO. MEATH, KELLS, INN|
|Nature:||Proposed new 7-bay, 3-storey inn.
|Refs:||Two elevations and a ground plan for an inn at Kells, Co. Meath, by Bell, s.'James Bell Archt Trim' and d. 6 Jan 1832, inscr. 'Kells' on verso, formerly in Henry, Mullins & McMahon Collection, bought by Desmond Guinness in 1965 (Castletown House collection, Cat. no. 85), is now in IAA, Acc. 96/068.6/4/1-3; a duplicate set is in the NLI, A.D. 1665-1667.|
|Building:||CO. LONGFORD, LONGFORD, ST MEL'S ROAD, CATHEDRAL OF ST MEL (RC)|
|Nature:||Letter from 'Old-Fashioned Architect' to IB, 1 May 1893, states that building was 'designed by Mr James Bell, senior, an Englishman, County Surveyor of Longford, about fifty years ago' whose design 'included and dictated the portico that was to follow some day'. Statement that Bell was original architect repeated in issue of 1 Jun.|
|Refs:||IB 35, 1 May,1 Jun 1893, 99,123|
|Building:||CO. LONGFORD, MOIGH HOUSE (BALLYMULVEY)|
|Nature:||Projecting single-bay extension for John Shuldham. Tenders invited Mar 1851.|
|Refs:||Longford Journal 21 Mar 1851; Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 142|
|Building:||CO. LONGFORD, LONGFORD, COUNTY COURT HOUSE|
|Nature:||To be enlarged and altered (presumably to designs by JB, the county surveyor)|
|Refs:||DB 1, 1 Jun 1859, 75; 2, 1 Apr 1860, 239; Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 381|
|Building:||CO. LONGFORD, LONGFORD, COUNTY GAOL|
|Nature:||Entrance lodge to be built, 1859, and alts and adds 'about to be made', 1860 (presumably to designs of JB, the county surveyor).|
|Refs:||DB 1, 1 Jun 1859, 75; 2, 1 Dec 1860, 380|
|Building:||CO. LONGFORD, CASTLE FORBES|
|Refs:||Ground plan in PRONI, Granard Papers, F/3/1-2|