John Bell (I) was a ‘pikemaster’ in 1476, and from 1485 if not before he rented from the Hospital or College of St John the pondyard behind the college which was known as ‘Fish Ponds Close’. According to T E Faber, An Intimate History of Clement’s Parish, 2006, p261, he presumably stocked his pondyard, or fattened his pike there, with small fish taken from the river, for in 1505 he was involved in a violent altercation with the Prior of Barnwell concerning his right to cast nets in ‘Barnwell Pool.’ He was Mayor on five occasions between 1494 and 1512; he died in 1523.
He diversified into brewing from 1483.
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