[taken from Chapter 3 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]
a son of Deemster John Christian, of Milntown, and Susannah Allen, was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he took his B.A. degree in 1840. He was ordained in the same year and appointed Chaplain of St. John's, German. In 1845, he became Vicar of Lezayre and held that living till 1861, when, except for a short time in 1865, he entirely gave up clerical work. During his career in the Church he showed strong evangelical tendencies and was considered a powerful preacher. He succeeded to Milntown in 1852, on the death of his father, and was made a magistrate in 1858. In 1867, he was elected member for Ramsey in the House of Keys and continued to represent that town till he was made receiver-general in 1883. He soon obtained an influential position in the House, being both a good speaker and a sound reasoner. He was frequently selected as deputy-speaker. As receiver-general he was a decided success, being a capable administrator. He was a man of distinguished appearance and polished and courtly manners. It may be mentioned as remarkable that he was married four times, his last wife surviving him, and that he was one of the only two clergymen who have ever been members of the House of Keys.
The name 'Bell' comes from his godfather James Christian Corlett Bell, originally a great friend of John Christian (the father) and a prosperous lawyer in London; however when James Bell, having no children, asked to adopt William Bell, John Christian wrote such a refusal that the friendship was ended.
m. (1) Charlotte Brine, Castletown
(2) Emma Houssemayne Du Bulay , St Peter's Eaton Sq. London
(3) Maria Johnson
(4) Sophia Marie Sclaet, Schwerin, Germany (daughter of Carl Levin Schaet of Mecklenburg)
According to Mrs Hicks Beach, he dashed into an early marriage with the daughter of a government official (so much does Mrs Hicks Beach apparently dislike this marriage that she does not mention Charlotte's name nor the 6 children!)
On the death of his mother in 1853 the Milntown and Unerigg estates were to be divided between the 2 sons (William and Henry) and four daughters. William apparently commenced on buying out his sisters, his brother Henry lived at Unerigg and when he died childless in 1859 William acquired Unerigg and gave up his ministry. Mrs Beach states that is is a profound mystery as to how William managed to buy out his sisters and also add Pooildhooie to the estate especially as one basis of the family fortune, the Unerigg coalfields, had not been profitable since the 1820's.
However what is missing from A.W.Moore's account is the fact that at William Bell's death in 1886 the whole property was found to be mortgaged upto the hilt and that everything at Milntown and Unerigg had to be sold, leaving his wife and three young children quite penniless! However she managed to return to Man in 1898 and rented Milntown from the mortgagees but could not manage to persuade them to sell her part of the estate. She died aged 92 in Bournmouth, her ashes interred at Lezayre 11 August 1937. The debts had been run up by his son who was a spendthrift.
see also IoM Fam Hist vol 3 #3 p45/6 for marriages, children etc
Account of Memorial she erected
Hicks Beach The Yesterdays behind the Door 1952 p134/140