The first attempts to build a machine to cut grain were made in England and Scotland, several of them in the eighteenth century. The first recorded English patent for a mechanical reaper was issued to Joseph Boyce in 1799.
In 1822, school teacher Henry Ogle, invented a mechanical reaper, but the opposition of the laborers of the vicinity, who feared loss of employment, prevented Ogle from making any further innovations.
In 1826, Patrick Bell, a Presbyterian minister, who had been moved by the hard work of the harvesters on his father's farm in Argyllshire, made an attempt to lighten their labor. His reaper was pushed by horses; a reel brought the grain against blades which opened and closed like scissors, and a traveling canvas apron deposited the grain at one side. The inventor received a prize from the Highland and Agricultural Society of Edinburgh, and pictures and full descriptions of his invention were published.
Several models of this reaper were built in Great Britain, and it is said that four came to the United States, however, Bell's machine was never generally adopted.