Andrew McNair

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Andrew McNair is best known for being the custodian who served the Continental Congress. A member of the Masonic Order, he served as official ringer of the Liberty Bell from 1759 to 1776, and he likely rang it to announce independence, on July 8, 1776 (the announcement was delayed four days to allow the Declaration of Independence to be printed). His services were terminated September 15, 1776, for unknown reasons.[1] It is known that he was in failing health at the time. There are no records that state when he died or where he was buried. The records of the American Philosophical Society record that on March 22, 1768, the Society contracted McNair to make the fires, light and extinguish candles, and keep its meeting room clean, for four shillings a night.[2]

McNair was played in the play and movie 1776 by William Duell.[3]

In his poem, "The Liberty Bell," Charles Brockden Brown describes McNair, not by name as follows:

Far aloft in that high steeple,
     Sat the bellman, old and gray.
He was weary of the tyrant
     And his iron-sceptered way.[4]

In 2006, McNair's descendant, Edward McNair, offered a ring on eBay made from metal Andrew McNair had supposedly broken from the Liberty Bell (with a "buy it now" price of $75,000). After the chief caretaker of the Bell opined that Andrew McNair could not have done so, the ring was withdrawn from sale.[5]


  1. ^ [1] Archived November 20, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Society, American Philosophical (1884). Early Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society for the Promotion of Useful Knowledge. 
  3. ^ "Aisle Say (NY): 1776". Retrieved 2015-04-04. 
  4. ^ Whipple, Wayne (1910). The Story of the Liberty Bell. 
  5. ^ "The Genealogue: It Didn't Have the Ring of Truth". Retrieved 2015-04-04.