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Henry Bell (1767–1830) by James Tannock Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Bell, Henry (1767–1830), hotelier and developer of steam navigation, was born at Torphichen Mill, Linlithgowshire, on 7 April 1767, the fifth son of Patrick Bell and his wife, Margaret Easton. He was educated at the village school and then in Falkirk. Despite the reputation of Scottish schools, his education served him badly and for the rest of his life he was unable to spell and made many grammatical errors in his extensive correspondence. At the age of thirteen he was apprenticed as a stonemason and then in 1783 as a millwright—two trades much in demand at a time when Scottish industry was growing rapidly. In 1786 he began work in the shipyard of ...