Isabella McCallum 1822 - 1915

Name: Isabella McCallum

AKA: Bell a'Phuil or Bella Pol

Father: Peter McCallum 1771 - bef 1851, Ag lab according to 1841 census, Sheriff Officer according to Bella's death certificate,1

Mother: Mary McKellar, from South Knapdale

Her Name :

Isabella has always been known around the Township into modern day by her "nickname".. Bell Pol.
This was said to describe her as a dirty person.
However some further research and consideration of the gaelic gives a different explanation.
Bell lived in ACHDN M for most of her life at Auchindrain, which is the wee house set by itself by the burn.
The area around is always somewhat boggy, and was the ford across which the livestock passed from the buildings to the Heather field in the winter, and beyond to the Auchindrain fields towards Kenmore.
That traffic would have made it pretty muddy much of the time.
At times there were more than 5 Isabella's in the township. It is not surprising, therefore, to have given them different "nicknames" to identify which is which.
So Isabella McCallum becomes known for where she lives… "Bella beside the muddy place" = Bell a'Phuil … spoken and shortened to Bell Fol.

Bella was born in Kilmorich parish, and possibly christened on the 15th May 1822 but we do not have the official
In some records she is said to come from Dunderave, and in others Cairndow.

Christening: 15 MAY 1822 Kilmorich, Argyll, Scotland
Form submitted by a member of the LDS Church. Batch Number: 7214704 but as a patron submission its not reliable.
See Kilmorich page for details of the Old Parochial Registers records available.
Kirk Session records of Kilmorich are Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/1169 - dates - Minutes 1750–1791, 1821–1846

Death: 26 Apr 1915, Auchindrain2

  • Cause: Cerebral Haemorrhage 2 days as certified by Archibald Campbell M B C M
  • Informant: Martin Munro second cousin3

1841 Census
In ACHDN M Bella, age 19 working as servant in Donald Munro's (age 25) household, along with John Campbell
Her parents are living at ACHDN W

Birth of a "natural born" son - John McGugan 1842 - 1910
father is Alexander McGougan, labourer at Auchindrain, brother of Neil McGougan, who were not recorded at the Township in the census of the year before.
Neil is at Braleckan.
Alexander seems to disappear, maybe he died, and Neil joins the Township at Croft O, takes care of his nephew, with a domestic servant, Catherine McArthur by 1851.

Bella has moved down to ACHDN W to look after her mother, after her father dies. (MOTHER IS LISTED AS MARRIED…,no record of a Peter McCallum anywhere else, and Peter had lied about his wife being alive in 1846 application to Poor Law. See his page)


Name Rel. Con. Age Occupation Born
Mary McCallum Head Mar 66 South Knapdale
Isabella McCallum Daught U 28 at home Lochgoilhead
Mary McPhail Niece 3 Inveraray

Bella has moved back to ACHDN M on her own.

  • 1871
  • 1881
  • 1891
  • 1901

Isabella speaks Gaelic & English
1 room with windows

Name Rel. Con. Age Occupation Er/W/OA Born
Isabella McCallum Head S 73 Formerly Domestic Servt Argyll, Dunderave
  • 1911

All speak Gaelic & English
2 rooms with windows

Name Rel. Age Con yrs Ttl Chd Liv Chd Occupation Industry E/W/OA at home Born
Isabella McCallum Head 88 S Kilmorich

The previous understanding of Isabella's life is below. While we have found a lot of evidence and records that refute much of what this says, it is important to retain because there may be some source of these statements, especially local lore. Being aware of them will keep us wary of any conflicting or corroborating information.

from site
Bell Poll was a widow. Because she had led a life of respectability in the eyes of her neighbors, she was allowed to live in this cottage rent free. The washing machine outside of the cottage symbolizes the work that she continued to do while the community provided for her other needs.
Exterior of Cottar's House.
Typical of a crofter's house, this dwelling includes two entrances. Usually the animals entered in the door on the right. Humans and animals were often separated by the boxed beds like the one in Bell Poll's cottage

from the information on the board at building M in 2007
Isabella was born at Auchindrain, and was the daughter of a cottar (landless labourer)
Isabella was unmarried and for much of her life she kept house for her father.
When he died she moved away from Auchindrain and went to work as a labourer in the local mines [
The mines were very muddy places and Isabella was given the nickname - Bell Pol (the Gaelic for muddy Isabella).
When she retired Isabella returned to Auchindrain to be supported by her relatives.
On hearing about Isabella’s return to Auchindrain, the 8th Duke of Argyll suggested that the tenant farmers rebuild for her the ruined cottage which had once been inhabited by her father, and continue the age-old custom of looking after their own. The Duke supported his proposal with labour and materials.
Isabella lived the remainder of her life at Auchindrain, provided for by the Township people.