Bell, David (d. 1890), presbyterian minister and Fenian activist, was born near Mosside, Co. Antrim, son of Thomas Bell, seceding presbyterian minister at Mosside for forty-seven years, and Jane Bell (d. 1852; maiden name unknown); they had also at least one daughter. He was educated locally and in Belfast, and on 1 October 1839 was ordained minister of Derryvalley, near Ballybay, Co. Monaghan, a Seceding congregation. He was a leading supporter of the tenant right campaign, which was very strong in that area. On 11 January 1850 Bell addressed an open-air Tenant League meeting in Ballybay at which as many as 30,000 farmers were said to be present, and spoke as a northern delegate at many similar meetings throughout the country. He was prominent in the unsuccessful attempt to rally support, particularly in the presbyterian community, for the Tenant League candidate John Gray (qv) in the Co. Monaghan constituency in the general election of 1852. Bell's eloquence – against what he perceived as the ill effects of landlord hegemony and of the sectarian politics that had previously characterised Ballybay – brought him enemies as well as celebrity, and on 27 November 1853 (partly because of his objection to state endowment of the presbyterian church, but also apparently because of opposition to his political stance) he resigned from Derryvalley.
In 1864 Bell was associated in London with the National Brotherhood of St Patrick and was a shareholder in a struggling weekly paper, the Irish Liberator; for a few months in early 1864 he was editor. He embarked on a generally unsuccessful lecture tour of Britain and Ireland to raise funds for the paper, but in June 1864 fell foul of the ongoing controversy over the influence of catholic clergy. Despite protesting that he had not expressed opposition to priests or hierarchy, Bell was forced out of the editorship, and later stated that his presbyterianism had been repugnant to his enemies. At about the same time, Bell was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood by O'Donovan Rossa (qv), and in October 1864 was sent to the USA on a lecture tour to drum up support and funding. On 15 September 1865 the police raided the offices of the Fenian newspaper, the Irish People, and Bell fled from Dublin to America to avoid arrest. Soon after his arrival in America he was appointed to the executive council of the Fenian Brotherhood in the US; he also held minor public office. In 1867 he was joint founder of a Chicago newspaper, the Irish Republic, a Fenian paper which supported the US republican party. Towards the end of his life, he again became a presbyterian minister in Brooklyn, New York, and died there at the end of April 1890. He married (1844) Elizabeth Clarke of Bailieborough, Co. Cavan; they had at least one son.