First name(s)
John David
Position(s) held at King's College London

Professor of Indian Jurisprudence, 1864-1865

Education & professional details

School, college and/or university attended
  • Edinburgh Academy, 1833-40
  • Middle Temple, 1844-48 called to the Bar.
Position(s) held (non King's College London)
  • Practiced at Calcutta (1850-58) and worked in Madras with a fellow barrister, George Taylor, to report cases heard and determined in the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal
  • lecturer at UCL on the laws of India at evening classes to help students reading for the Indian civil service (1869-72)
  • Standing Counsel to the Government of India at Calcutta (1878-80)- advocate of HM's High Court, Calcutta.
Professional activities

Founder and Chairman of Positive Government Security Life Assurance Company (1870)

Personal details

Date of birth
Place of birth
Date of death
Place of death
Family details
  • Youngest son of George Joseph Bell, Professor of Scots Law, Edinburgh University
  • married Christina Lucy Winckworth (1852) by whom he had several children.


For two generations members of the Bell family of Edinburgh were noted lawyers, surgeons and Episcopalians; J.D. Bell and two of his brothers worked in Calcutta. Boase's Biographical Dictionary is inaccurate in one respect: George Joseph Bell was Professor of Scots Law at Edinburgh University, not Aberdeen. JD Bell founded the Positive Government Security Life Assurance Company to insure lives exposed to tropical climes; it is still extant and in 2015 at 25 Abchurch Lane, E.C. KCL and UCL valued JD Bell as a lecturer on Indian law thanks to his family connections and knowledge of Indian courts.


  • Edinburgh Academy, Register of students
  • Frederic Boase, Modern English Biography (1892)
  • Census Records (1861) (1871) (1881) (1891)
  • Solicitor's Journal and Reporter (1868)
  • UCL Calendars
  • Paul Mitchell, Law and India at KCL, KC Law Journal, 18, (2006), p. 35.
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