BELL, HERBERT, merchant, farmer, shipbuilder, and politician; b. 30 Nov. 1818 in Middlebie Parish, county of Dumfries, Scotland; d. 15 Feb. 1876 at his home in Alberton, P.E.I.
After being educated in his native Scotland, Herbert Bell immigrated to Prince Edward Island in the 1840s. He settled at Alberton in western Prince County, where he established himself as a farmer, merchant, and shipbuilder. In 1849 he married Jane Bowness; she bore him no children but they adopted a daughter.
Bell entered politics in 1867 and was elected to the assembly for Prince County, First District. During the next three years, the new Liberal government, which he supported, had a succession of three leaders and was sharply divided by the land and school questions. On the latter issue, Bell, a Presbyterian, openly opposed public grants to Roman Catholic denominational schools; however, First Prince was two-thirds Roman Catholic in population, and Bell was defeated by a Catholic Liberal in the election of 18 July 1870. Later in the same year, he successfully contested a seat in the Legislative Council, where he reiterated his views on the school question. He became president of the upper house in 1874, and held that position until his death.
Bell was a strong advocate of “temperance” and served as a grand worthy patron of the Sons of Temperance for several years. As a merchant with considerable trading interests, he vigorously supported the idea of free trade between P.E.I. and the United States. On most other issues his views were quite conventional; he opposed leasehold tenure and confederation.
Prince Edward Island, Supreme Court, Estates Division, will of Herbert Bell, 7 Feb. 1876. Prince Edward Island, House of Assembly, Debates and proceedings, 1867–70, especially 1868, 171; 1870, 64–65; Journals, 1867–70. Prince Edward Island, Legislative Council, Debates and proceedings, 1871–75, especially 1873, 80–82; 1874, 237–39; Journals, 1871–75. Examiner (Charlottetown), 21 Feb. 1876. Patriot (Charlottetown), 18 Feb. 1876. Can. parl. comp., 1874, 515. Robertson, “Religion, politics, and education in PEI,” 195–96.