Jeremiah McLelland BELL Amelia Agnes BELL William BELL Mary Hutchison BELL Mary Hutchison FLINT treeI83.gif

Adelaide BELL

about 1853 - about 1923

Life History

about 1853

Born

about 1923

Died

EVELYN: Adelaide Bell (Auntie Allie). I knew her most of her life until she died about 1923. Mother said she was beautiful when she was young, and I can believe it, from the photographs we have of her, and from her looks as we remember them. She was tall, and when young very slender, with round blue eyes and auburn hair, which reached as far as her waist. Mother said she was a wonderful cook, but I never in my life saw her do a stroke of work. Once I remember at Sylvan House she made mushroom ketchup.

She stayed with us for long periods and always had her breakfast in bed. She must have been about my age now when she stayed there for the last time. By then, and for most of the time I knew her, she was very stout. She weighed I8 stone, but never looked grossly fat because she was so tall. She was a melancholic, having attacks which made her behave very queerly, and she nearly always had a nurse or companion to look after her, who always stayed in our house with her too. Sometimes mother was able to fix up for her to board with someone who would look after her well, and Aunt Alicia provided some money in her Will for her maintenance.

Auntie Allie was sentimental and malicious, pretty shrewd and completely selfish, indolent and greedy with food. When mother was within a week of her marriage Auntie Allie took one of “her turns” and lay on the sofa in a sort of fit. Mother sent for the doctor and he wasn't at home, so she fetched another, who took one look and said: “What has upset her?” and mother said she was to be married next week. He said: "Give me a towel." and he wet it and slapped Auntie Allie across the face and she certainly came round. When he had gone, mother said she was sorry, but he was the only doctor she could find at home, and Auntie Allie said: “I should think you would always find him at home!”

She was a great thorn in the flesh of all of us. Mother having to go off and fetch her or look after her: trying to find suitable people to look after her and having her to stay when she was in one of her moods. I don't know how much of her so called mental illness was real and how much was played up. Anyway it caused mother a lot of trouble and anxiety and Robin [Evelyn's father] a lot of patience and forbearance. I don't think Auntie Allie ever liked him: he was far too good for her to appreciate. Even when we were children we saw it gave her some sadistic pleasure to try to hurt him or irritate him in small ways of which, luckily, he never seemed to take any notice.

She was devoted to Aunt Amelia [married to James Stevens Linklater] and all her children [e.g. Dum!], none of whom, even the best of them, ever did anything in any way, financially or otherwise, to look after her. Ultimately Auntie Allie had a stroke when staying with us at Gullane but recovered and lived for several years. She died in 192I [sic] at the house of a very nice person who had been a nurse and who looked after her, of another stroke.

She, with our grandmother, Little Alicia, Willie Bell and his wife, and other members of our family are buried in the family vault in the Necropolis Cemetery in Glasgow, which John Betjeman says is the finest example of cemetery architecture in the British Isles.