Section Index
The Builders
Seamen and Vessels
Lighthouse Keepers
Other People in Stevenson’s “Account”
The Map “deciphered”
An Historic Engineering
Landmark



Keepers on Bell Rock

Register commences on 1st January 1837

The bulk of the list consists of keepers between the years 1837 (when the NLB register begins), and 1950 (the year up to which the records are micro-filmed). Names either side of these dates, gleaned from various sources, have also been added.


The lightkeepers' children at the Signal Tower, Arbroath, at the beginning of the 20th century.
The girl on the right (wearing hat) is known to be the daughter of Robert Clyne
who served on the Bell between 1900 and 1908

It is obvious from the listing that service on the Bell tended to be "hierarchical" - that is, several generations of the same family doing service on the Rock. This is, of course, also true of the entire lighthouse service in Scotland.

To be stationed on the Rock was probably not all that popular with the majority of keepers, what with the lack of "creature comforts" and the like, and there appears to have been a high incidence of resignation among those posted there; but we also know that there were lightkeepers who actually preferred life on these lonely rock stations.

Further research is intended to give further information of all pre-1900 keepers on the list - where possible.

All expectant lightkeepers did their training on the Bell Rock. Unless they subsequently did a tour of duty on the rock, they will not be mentioned in the listing below.

My thanks, as always, to the Northern Lighthouse Board, whose records have supplied the following list. These may be consulted more fully at the Scottish Record Office.

1811-1819
John REID (1811-1819) first PLK; John BONNYMAN (1811-); Henry LEASK (1811); Michael WISHART (1811-); ???? DAWSON (1817); ???? PITHIE (1818); ???? McGREGOR (1818); Thomson MILNE (1819-).

1820-1829

1830-1839
Thomson MILNE(1837-1842); Robert SEATER (1837-1843); George GORDON (1837-1840); James WALLACE (1837-1842).

1840-1849
John THOMSON (1840-1843); James SUTHERLAND (1841-1847); John ADAIR, Sen (1842-); Robert GILLESPIE (1845-1850); Alexander CRAIB (1845-1851); William SPINK (1847-1850).

1850-1859
David SPINK (1850-); James BLACK, Jun. (1850-); James BURNETT (1852-1855); Joseph NOBLE (1853-1858); Henry MURDOCH (1854-1856); David SPINK (1850-); David WATERS (1855-1857); John GRIERSON, Jun (1856-); Lawrence FERRIER (1856-); William INNES (1857-); Thomas DAWSON (1858-1859); John SINCLAIR (1858-1862); Henry BRODIE (1858-1861); Thomas GRIERSON (1859-1864); Charles Clouston IRVINE (1859).

1860-1869
James RITCH (1860-1863); David LAIDLAW (1862-1866); John BROWN (1862-1867); William WITHERS (1865-1866); Joseph AGNEW (1866-1870); David ROSS (1866-1870); David CHARLESTON (1866-1871); John MACDONALD (1866-1868); Robert SEATER (1867-1871); Thomas SUTHERLAND (1868-1870).

1870-1879
James YOUNGCLAUSE (1870-1873); William QUINE (1870-1880); James BURNETT (1871-1878); William SKEA (1871-1873); ***William CLARK (1871); James HAWTHORN (1871-1873); Peter CARRIE (1873-1879); James BLACK, Jun (1874-1885); James JACK (1876-1891); Robert MURRAY (1879-1887).

1880-1889
Robert THOMSON (1880-1885); James CADGER (1884-1892); John McDONALD (1885-1893); Daniel CALDER (1887-1900).

1890-1899
John Robert LAWRENCE (1890-1895); Niven KERR (1891-1900); Robert AGNEW (1892-1896); Gilbert THOMSON (1893-1894); Alexander BURNETT (1894-1897); John MacLean CAMPBELL (1895-1904); Archibald MACFARLANE (1896-1897); Andrew OLLASON (1897-1902); Lawrence ANDERSON (1898-1900).

1900-1909
John Brown HENDERSON (1900-1906); Robert CLYNE (1900-1908); William Duncan BUDGE (1902-1907); John MACLEAN (1904-1907); David Alexander MOWAT (1907-1913); John WATSON (1907-1909), John MATHIESON (1907-1910); John MUIR (1908-1908); Matthew SANDERSON (1909-1912); Ernest Seymour F ALDEBERT (1909-1910).

1910-1919
Colin Coll McD McCORMICK(1910-1916); Donald Allan McDONALD (1910-1921); John Brown HENDERSON (1912-1916); Alexander WOOD (1913-1924); Andrew McLeod BLACK (1916-1926); John D MACGILVRAY(1916-1929).

1920-1929
Kenneth PATERSON (1921-1924); James MITCHELL (1924-1929); Andrew TWATT (1924-1929); William FORSYTH (1926-1932); John Brown HENDERSON (1929-1934); John HENDERSON (1929-1935); George MACKIE (1929-1933).

1930-1939
John SIMPSON (1932-1937);*William CORDINER (1933-1938); **George CUSITOR (1938-??);**William THORBURN (1938-??); William CHRISTIE (1934-1938); **Thomas STEEL (1938-45/46); John SANDERSON (1935-1942); *Angus MACAULAY (1939-1941).

1940-1949
Norman McLEOD (1943-1944); John Thomson SUMMERS (1946-1947); Donald Allan Jolly SINCLAIR (1947); ***Hugh THOMSON (1948-??); **Ernest STEWART/STUART (1948-??); **A. HISLOP (1948-??).

1950-1959
*Thomas STEEL (1950-1955);***William WATT (1950-??); R T WOOD (1955); **Robert McCALLUM (1950-??); **Robert CROWE (1950-??); *John Wallace THOMSON (1955-1960); Donald Smith McLARDY (1952-1957).

1960-1969
Alexander Bruce CHRISTIE (1964-1968).

1970-1979

1980-1988
George Steven GRAINGER; John BAMBRICK; Ross MACGILCHRIST; Ernest J. ENGLAND (1986); A. J. C. MacDONALD (1986); Charlie RIDING (1983-1986); Robert LEES (1986); James BAIN (1986); James MACKAY (1987, PLK); John BOATH (1988, last PLK).

1988 - Automation of the Bell Rock Lighthouse

Alphabetical listing

Dates are given dd/mm/yy

ADAIR, John, Sen (14.01.1842 - )
AGNEW, Joseph (16.03.1866 - 4 yrs)
AGNEW, Robert (23.11.1892 - 3 yrs 4 mths)
ALDBERT, Ernest Seymour Frederick (24.05.1909 - 1 yr 2 yrs)
ANDERSON, Lawrence (27.12.1998 - 1 yr 2 mths)
BAIN, James (1986)
BLACK, Andrew McLeod (09.09.1916 - 10 yrs 1 mth)
BLACK, James, Jun. (04.04.1874 - 10 yrs 9 mths)
BLACK, James, Jun. (16.10.1850 - )
*BOATH, John (1988 - )
BONNYMAN, John (1811 - )
BRODIE, Henry (18.10.1858 - 2 yrs)
BROWN, John (19.07.1862 - 4 yrs 6 mths)
BUDGE, William Duncan (02.04.1902 - 5 yrs 2 mths)
BURNETT, Alexander (01.05.1894 - 3 yrs 8 mths)
*BURNETT, James (08.02.1871, 5 yrs 6 mths)
BURNETT, James (16.10.1852 - 3 yrs 1 mth)
CADGER, James (03.01.1884 - 8 yrs 10 mths)
CALDER, Daniel (12.07.1887 - 2 yrs 5 mths)
CAMPBELL, John MacLean (17.06.1895 - 8 yrs 10 mths)
CARRIE, Peter (20.03.1873 - 6 yrs 4 mths)
CHARLESTON, David (12.04.1866 - 5 yrs)
CHRISTIE, Alexander Bruce (19.10.1964 - 3 yrs 7 mths)
CHRISTIE, William (30.03.1934 - 4 yrs 2 mths)
***CLARK, William (1871 census)
CLOUSTON, Charles C Irvine (07.12.1860 - 1 yr 6 mths)
*CLYNE, Robert (19.04.1900 - 7 yrs 8 mths)
*CORDINER, William (20.09.1933 - 5 yrs 2 mths)
CRAIB, Alexander (15.01.1845 - 6 yrs 9 mths)
**CROWE Robert (1950-??)
DAWSON, ? (1817)
DAWSON, Thomas (17.02.1858 - 1 yr 2 mths)
ENGLAND, E. J. (1986)
FERRIER, Lawrence (26.11.1856 - )
FORSYTH, William (04.10.1926 - 5 yrs 6 mths)
GILLESPIE, Robert (19.07.1845 - 5 yrs 3 mths)
GORDON, George (c.1824 - 16 yrs)
GRIERSON, John, Jun (26.08.1856 - )
GRIERSON, Thomas (14.04.1859 - 4 yrs 11 mths)
HAWTHORN, James (01.09.1871, 1 yr 6 mths)
HENDERSON, John (13.12.1929 - 5 yrs 5 mths)
HENDERSON, John Brown (27.05.1929 - 4 yrs 10 mths)
HENDERSON, John Brown (08.03.1900 - 6 yrs 9 mths; 26.11.1912 - 4 yrs)
**HISLOP, A. (1948-??)
INNES, William (15.07.1857 - )
*JACK, James (29.08.1876 - 14 yrs 9 mths)
*KERR, Niven (19.05.1891 - 9 yrs)
LAIDLAW, David (03.05.1862 - 3 yrs 10 mths)
LAWRENCE, John Robert (16.04.1890 - 5 yrs 3 mths)
LEASK, Henry (1811)
LEES, Robert (1986)
*MACAULAY, Angus (01.02.1939 - 2 yrs)
MacDONALD, A. J. C. (1986)
MACDONALD, John (1866 - 1868)
McDONALD, John (09.11.1885 - 7 yrs 7 mths)
MACFARLANE, Archibald (12.03.1896 - 1 yr 3 mths)
MacGILVRAY, John D (18.12.1916 - 12 yrs 10 mths)
MACKAY, James (1987)
MACKIE, George (07.10.1929 - 4 yrs)
MACLEAN, John (15.04.1904 - 3 yrs 5 mths)
MATHIESON, John (12.10.1907 - 2 yrs 5 mths)
**McCALLUM, Robert (1950-??)
McCORMICK, Colin Coll McDonald (26.02.1910 - 6 yrs 5 mths)
McDONALD, Donald Allan (09.09.1910 - 11 yrs)
McDONALD, John (28.11.1885 - 7 yrs 7 mths)
McGREGOR, ? (1818)
McLARDY, Donald Smith (22.11.1952-28.02.1957 - 4 yrs 4 mths)
McLEOD, Norman (29.09.1943 - 10 mths)
MILNE, Thomson (1819 - more than 20 yrs)
MITCHELL, James (26.03.1924 - 5 yrs 2 mths)
MOWAT, David Alexander (07.01.1907 - 6 yrs 7 mths)
*MUIR, John (20.02.1908 - 10 mths)
MURDOCH, Henry (10.05.1854 - 2 yrs 6 mths)
MURRAY, Robert (17.07.1879 - 7 yrs 10 mths)
NOBLE, Joseph (13.03.1853 - 4 yrs 10 mths)
OLLASON, Andrew (10.06.1897 - 4 yrs 9 mths)
PATERSON, Kenneth (31.08.1921 - ) Pithie, ? (1818)
QUINE, William (09.02.1870, 10 yrs 6 mths)
REID, John (1811 - 1819)
RIDING, Charles (1986)
RITCH, James (11.07.1860 - 3 yrs 5 mths)
ROSS, David (07.03.1866 - 4 yrs)
SANDERSON, John (1935 - 1942)
*SANDERSON, Matthew (18.01.1909 - 3 yrs 10 mths)
SEATER, Robert (before 1837 - 1843)
*SEATER, Robert (06.02.1867 - 4 yrs)
SIMPSON, John (21.04.1932 - 5 yrs)
SINCLAIR, Donald Allan Jolly (24.03.1947 - 8 mths)
SINCLAIR, John (17.02.1858 - 4 yrs 5 mths)
SKEA, William (29.03.1871, 2 yrs 6 mths)
SPINK, David (09.01.1850 - )
SPINK, William (10.03.1847 - 2 yrs 7 mths)
**STEEL, Thomas (1939-45/46); *As PLK (1950-1955)
**STEWART/STUART, Ernest (1948-??)
SUMMERS, John Thomson (17.04.1946 - 10 mths)
SUTHERLAND, James (09.06.1841 - 5 yrs 9 mths)
SUTHERLAND, Thomas (22.01.1868, 2 yrs)
THOMSON, Gilbert (23.06.1893 - 10 mths)
***THOMSON, Hugh (1948-??)
*THOMSON, John Wallace (20.04.55 - 5 yrs 3 mths)
THOMSON, Robert (20.09.1880 - 5 yrs 1 mths)
**THORBURN, William (1939-??)
TWATT, Andrew (01.03.1924 - 5 yrs 9 mths)
WALLACE, James (before 1837 - 1842)
WATERS, David (07.10.1855 - )
WATSON, John (26.06.1907 - 1 yr 11 mths)
WATT, William (1950 -)
WISHART, Michael (1811 - )
WITHERS, William (02.12.1865 - 1 yr)
WOOD, Alexander (15.07.1913 - 10 yrs 7 mths)
WOOD, R. T. (1955 -)
YOUNGCLAUSE, James (09.02.1870, 3 yrs 1 mth)

* Denotes PLK (Principal Lightkeeper) ** Denotes information from the Arbroath Yearbooks
*** From other sources

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