John R. Bell (trade unionist)

John Robert Bell (died 25 August 1924) was a British trade unionist and political activist.

Bell lived in the United States for many years, where he worked as an official with the International Seamen's Union.[1] In 1894, he travelled to England on behalf of the union, to report on the Labour Electoral Association and the Independent Labour Party. While in England, he struck up a friendship with Havelock Wilson, leader of the National Sailors' and Firemen's Union (NSFU), and Wilson and Bell went on an organising tour of the UK.[2]

In 1910, Bell settled in Kingston upon Hull, where he became the NSFU's Humber District Secretary.[3] He was adopted as an NSFU candidate for Kingston upon Hull West in 1912, but was not endorsed by the Labour Party.[4] He also became active on the Hull Trades and Labour Council, but left during World War I in protest at the Labour Party's policy on the war.[3]

By the time an election was held, in 1918, Hull's constituencies had been redrawn, and Bell stood in Kingston upon Hull South West. He received the support of the NSFU and various other unions, and also of some shipowners.[5] Despite some later reports, he was not accredited by the National Democratic and Labour Party, but he did receive a Coalition coupon, and is therefore often counted as a Coalition Labour candidate. He took 30.9% of the votes cast and second place in the poll.[6]

In his spare time, Bell was active in the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, and he served as Grand A. Buffalo of England.[3]

Bell was a prominent figure at Trades Union Congress meetings. He remained a district secretary for the NSFU until his death in 1924.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Mr John R. Bell". Annual Report of the Trades Union Congress: 283. 1924.
  2. ^ Yearley, Clifton K. (1957). Britons in American Labor. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 69.
  3. ^ a b c "Late Mr J. R. Bell". Hull Daily Mail. 28 August 1924.
  4. ^ "Mr J. R. Bell Candid". Hull Daily Mail. 19 November 1912.
  5. ^ "Seamen's candidate". Hull Daily Mail. 7 March 1918.
  6. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1977). British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-49 (2 ed.). London: Macmillan Press. p. 158. ISBN 9780333230480.