Monday, 8 October 2007

Forgotten Heroes & Heroines

All too often, society overlooks those who were the real heroes and heroines of the past. We are far too inclined to regale those who became famous and forget all about those who did greater things but in a humble manner. One example of this is the Bell family.

Matthew Bell was born in Kirkconnell, Nithsdale in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. He moved from his native land to Ulster settling in Ballymoney where he had two sons, John and Matthew. Although there is little known about Matthew jnr, John was born somewhere between 1678 and 1679 and eventually sailed for America around 1719.

After about a year in America, John travelled back to Ballymoney to collect his wife Elizabeth and their two daughters. As they sailed back to America, a remarkable incident took place which should have guaranteed Elizabeth's place in history. It was 1772 and the ship the Bell family were aboard was typical of the time and for many it was a maritime morgue, known commonly as a "coffin ship" given the number who died before they reached the far side of the Atlantic.

The captain of the ship was given to bouts of intemperance and "hit the bottle" with little regard for his duties as skipper. As the ship neared America, he slipped into delirium tremens and was unable to steer the ship any further. Of all the passengers on board, only Elizabeth came forward to take control. She did so with confidence and brought the ship, it's passengers and all aboard safley to Boston.

So Elizabeth Bell was not a literary giant nor a painter or actress. She played no part in politics nor did anything of great significance before or after the journey to America. But did she have to? Did saving the lives of those on board the ship not mean that she was a very special lady who deserved to be remembered? I think so and if you agree, post a comment and let's not let this fine Ulster Scots woman be forgotten.


Betty said...

This was a very brave lady indeed and in no way should she be forgotten. Let's hope the media pick up on this and give her the publicity that she so derserved. She should go down in the history books for such bravery.

tha poocher said...

Its nice that you have informed your audience of this brave lady and is just typical of those who left our shores and to make America great. Its strange none of the so called great and good around today have been promoting the case for recognition of this 'yin o oor ain wha dane sae mich tae show tha wurl tha pluck o' tha North Antrim weemen'. Here's hoping support is forthcoming for your idea.
Tha Poocher