Information about Andrew McNair, the doorkeeper for the First and Second Continental Congress, is sketchy. As the doorkeeper, he would have also had custodial duties, and appears to have been the official bell ringer for the Liberty Bell.
He was probably a Scotch or Scotch-Irish Presbyterian. He lived in
McNair’s was the official bell ringer of the Liberty Bell for 18 years, from October 16, 1758 until his death in February 1777. The Liberty Bell was rung for important events, such as calling the Pennsylvania Assembly into session, for various protests of British taxes, for the closure of
Records also describe McNair as the doorkeeper for the Pennsylvania Assembly, a position requiring annual election and appointment by the Assembly. It appears that the doorkeeper and bell ringer duties went together. During the period from 1753 through 1780, McNair was one of only five individuals who held the position of doorkeeper, and he clearly held it for the longest time – 18 years. Generally, the person in this position for the Pennsylvania Assembly would also serve in a similar capacity for the Continental Congress, and thus McNair found himself serving the First and Second Continental Congress. He was appointed as doorkeeper for the First Continental Congress on September 22, 1775. Not only was he the doorkeeper and bell ringer, records indicate that he also was responsible for “cleaning house,” which is perhaps where the musical “1776” gets his title as “Congressional Custodian.” For the 146 days from April 30, 1776 through November 1, 1776, he was paid $118 for his services.
The duties of the doorkeeper appear to have been fairly broad and McNair, as the doorkeeper, would have been responsible for the physical management of the facility that Congress met in. The Second Continental Congress met in the Pennsylvania State House Building, which is today known as Independence Hall.
The information above is from a small book entitled Andrew McNair and the Liberty Bell, by Mary D. Alexander (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1929).