Bell – Nimmo Ancestry

Pauline Bell writes, “Hi, I hope you can help me.  My father Ian Bell was born at 90 Victoria Street Blantyre in 1934. I have needed to know all off my life about his parents and upbringing and can’t get anywhere. Is there anything you can tell me that might help me out or point me in the right direction?”

Looking at the life of somebody’s father is not something I’m comfortable with as the person if not still living, may have living relatives and would need permissions from them. However, liking a challenge, I was happy enough to investigate Pauline’s grandparent and great grandparents.

William Bell was born in Blantyre in 1881 in Blantyre, the son of Peter Bell and Elizabeth Neil who had arrived in the area only a couple of years before. As a young adult he was a vanman living at Lounfoot, High Blantyre, (near the bottom of Douglas Street).

By 1903, he had met sweetheart Maggie Nimmo, a farm servant girl at Parkhall, East Kilbride, perhaps though William’s deliveries to the farm. She was the same age and that year, both 23 years old, they married in the public hall in East Kilbride, choosing to move to Blantyre to settle down.

1903 William Bell marriage

1903 William Bell and Maggie Nimmo Wedding

Margaret or Maggie as she preferred was the daughter of John Nimmo a miner and Janet Biggans. Both Maggie and William’s fathers were deceased at the time the couple married, so their mothers would have been the only parents at the wedding.

A daughter Elizabeth Neil Bell arrived very quickly in 1903, then in 1904 a son John Andrew Bell, the names all associated with William and Maggie’s own parents.

1911 Census Bell

1911 Census showing Bell family at Broompark Road

The family lived in a bothy next to a stable in Broompark Road although by 1915 had moved to a house at 72 Main Street in High Blantyre on the north side of the road.

By 1913, another daughter Maggie Nimmo Bell was born.

1903 Bell Ancestry

Bell Ancestry

During the mid 1920’s, new homes were built by the council at Victoria Street. William and Maggie Bell moved there before 1930 taking with them their young daughter Margaret, who was still a teenager.

Young Margaret Nimmo Bell became a motor bus cleaner in the early 1930s after leaving school, perhaps for the nearby Central Garage further down Victoria Street at its junction with Glasgow Road.


In 1933, at the age of 20, Margaret became pregnant and on June 13th 1934, a baby boy, Ian Bell was born. Margaret’s parents William and Maggie both died in 1946, William in Blantyre at Victoria Street and Maggie in Bothwell.

What is interesting is that their daughter, Margaret according to this birth certificate was unmarried when she got pregnant with Ian, choosing not to put the fathers name on the birth certificate. The fact she called the baby Ian though could be a clue to the fathers name? There could be many reasons for her not putting the fathers name on the certificate….. Ian’s birth dad may have died before he was born, or Margaret simply didn’t want to record the fathers name, or dare i say it, didn’t know for sure who the father was. The father missing from the birth certificate is unusual and would need investigation of paternity cases just in case the father ever wanted access.

We have to urge caution in such stories, for there may be a simple explanation. However, without the fathers name on the birth certificate or any family story remembered about what happened in 1934, and given Margaret Nimmo Bell died in 1973, aged 60, it may be very difficult even impossible to ever track the paternal side of Ian’s ancestry.

The Nimmo ancestry should not be confused with another Nimmo family, unrelated from Auchentibber.

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  1. Looking for details on a Daniel Bell born around early 1920s in Blantyre there was a brother John Bell.

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