Bell, Beaupré (DNB00)


BELL, BEAUPRÉ (1704–1745), antiquary, was descended from the ancient family of Beaupré, long resident in Upwell and Outwell, Norfolk, a co-heiress of whom married Robert Bell [see Bell, Robert, d. 1577], an ancestor. His father, Beaupré Bell, who married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Oldfield, of Spalding, wasted the patrimony through improvident habits and violent passions. The vicissitudes of his career may be realised from an advertisement in the 'London Gazette,' No. 7613, May 1737, from Lord Harrington, the secretary of state, setting out that the life of Beaupré Bell had been threatened, his servant shot, and his house beset several times, and promising free pardon for any one who revealed his accomplices; as a further inducement Mr. Bell added a reward of fifty pounds. The son was educated at Westminster School and at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking the degree of B.A. in 1725, M.A. in 1729. He devoted himself to the study of antiquities, taking especial pleasure in ancient coins, and, by the possession of property worth, even in its reduced state, as much as 1,500l. a year, was enabled to gratify his tastes to the utmost. He issued proposals for a work on the coins of the Roman emperors; but though the book was in a forward state long before his death, it was never published. Beaupré Bell was an active member of the Spalding Society, and several papers which he communicated to it are mentioned in the 'Reliquiæ Galeanæ' (Bibl. Topog. Britt. iii.), pp. 57-66. The same volume also contains several letters to and from him (pp. 147-490). Four of his letters on the 'Horologia of the Antients' are printed in the 'Archæologia,' vi. 133-43; two are in Nichols's 'Lit. Illustrations,' iii. 572, 582; and several others may be found in the 'Stukeley Memoirs' (Surtees Soc.) He assisted Blomefield in his history of Norfolk, and Thomas Hearne in many of his antiquarian works, and C. N. Cole's edition of Dugdale's 'Imbanking' (1772) was corrected from a copy formerly in his possession. Bell died of consumption on his road to Bath in August 1745, when the estate passed to his youngest sister, but he left his personal property of books, medals, and manuscripts to his college at Cambridge. His remains are said to have been laid in the family burying-place in St. Mary's chapel, Outwell church, but there is no entry of the burial in the parish register, nor is there any mention of his name among the members of his family commemorated in the inscriptions on the family tomb in the chapel.

[Blomefield's Norfolk, vii. 459-60 (1807); Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, v. 278-82; Bibl. Topog. Britt. iii. p. xii; Carthew's Launditch, iii. 431-2; Stukeley Memoirs (Surtees Soc.). i. 88, 97, 275-94, 372, 427, 461-5, ii. 22-4, 280-2, 321-2.]

W. P. C.