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January 26, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: The Bells of Bellmont


Bellmont (Courtesy Historic Buckingham) 

In 1761, it was probably David Bell, Sr. who became the first Clerk of Court in Buckingham County.  His wife, Judith Cary, had inherited their land from her father, Henry Cary.  Judith, born in Henrico, on August 12, 1726, was about twenty years old when she wed David Bell. They began married life at the river port town of Warwick, south of the James River near Richmond where Henry Cary had established the thriving plantation, Ampthill.

When the Bells moved west, they established Bellmont and, in 1937, when the dwelling house was surveyed for the Virginia Historical Inventory it  was believed to be the oldest, existing frame house, not only in Buckingham County, but west of Richmond. Located roughly eight miles northeast of Dillwyn, off Route 667, near the Cumberland County line, the Bell home was a very early and elegant entry in what was to become Buckingham County.

David Bell, Sr. died intestate on March 28, 1770, leaving Judith to face the American Revolution as a mature widow. Following the Revolution, in October of 1783, Judith applied for a claim and received £11.6.8 for 1,420 lbs. of beef provided for the cause.

Their son, David Bell, Jr. (d. 15 December 1799), along with Charles Patteson, represented Buckingham County at the Virginia Ratifying Convention in June 1788. Bell is one of the notable men of Buckingham County included in the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Published by the Library of Virginia, the Dictionary is a scholarly, comprehensive biographical reference work on Virginia. Many of the entries offer the first reliable biography ever printed about their subjects.  For more information about the project visit:


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  1. Ed Ayres / Jan 26 2013 2:03 pm

    Bellmont was one of the few, if not only, historic homes of Buckingham County to be surveyed by the Historic American Buildings Survey [HABS]. The Library of Congress has a set of exquisite, detailed drawings of the house which, i believe, can be accessed online.In addition Frances Benjamin Johnston, took several (exterior and interior) high quality photographs of Bellmont in the 1930s. They were part of a wonderful series of photos she took of historic homes, mostly north of the James River (her coverage of Albemarle County is especially good). The originals of these are at the Library of Congress and at the Architecture School at the University of Virginia. Some are also available online. Bellmont certainly appears to be the oldest house in Buckingham, if not in the central Piedmont.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 26 2013 3:38 pm

      Thanks, Ed. Yes, there is wonderful documentation concerning Bellmont. I plan to highlight some of Frances Benjamin Johnston’s work in “At a Place Called Buckingham,” vol ii. Stay tuned.


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