William J. Bedell was the son of John Bedell (1755-1838), a Loyalist from Richmond, Staten Island, New York, who had been the private secretary to Colonel Christopher Billopp (1737-1828), a well known Loyalist. John Bedell married Margaret Dibblee (1767-1853), the daughter of Fyler Dibblee (c1744-1785) and his wife Polly Jarvis (1747-1826), and a niece of Rev. Frederick Dibblee (1753-1826). In 1788, John and Margaret Bedell and her brothers William and Ralph Dibblee moved to Woodstock, New Brunswick, and obtained property at a location that became known as Bedell's Cove. Their family consisted of seven sons and three daughters, of which William J. was the eldest. The other sons were: John, Paul, Micheau, Joseph, George Augustus, Tyler and Walter. Two of the daughters were Catherine (Bedell) Clements and Jane (Bedell) Perley. Father and sons were involved in trade and lumbering and held many positions in local government and community affairs. William J. Bedell was a local magistrate before moving to Fredericton where he was active in business as the manager of Robert Rankine Co., and later a member of the firm of Bedell, Munroe and Chalmers. He was president of the Central Bank, and first treasurer of the Diocesan Church Society. William J. Bedell married twice; his first wife was Phoebe, the daughter of Capt. Joseph Cunliffe, and his second wife was Emma Wetmore, the daughter of Attorney-General Thomas Wetmore. On 31 May 1866, William J. Bedell died soon after being found unconscious near his home. Several other Loyalist families were closely related to the Bedell family including: Jarvis, Clements, Berton, Bull, Dibblee, Ketchum, Beardsley, Cunliffe, Wetmore, and Raymond.
The William J. Bedell Letter Book "H" contains correspondence with members of several firms engaged in lumbering and shipbuilding. The firms include: Gilmore and Rankin, shipbuilders on the Miramichi; Robert Rankin of Saint John; Arthur Ritchie and Company, Restigouche; and Francis Ferguson. The letters are written from Fredericton and are recorded in strict chronological order, but frequency of the correspondence varies. Letters having consecutive dates can be followed by a space of several days while on other occasions more than one letter will have the same date. The letters make reference to business transactions, correspondence and meeting with numerous individuals, orders, leases, contracts, timber petitions, receipts, payments made and owed, banking activities, names of landowners, timber licences, weather conditions, and many other topics.