The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Descendant's report for Reverend John Philip Gell, M.A., son of Reverend Philip Gell and Elizabeth Gell [Dod]

GELL, JOHN PHILIP (1816-1898), Anglican clergyman, was born on 10 March 1816 at Matlock, Derbyshire, England, the eldest son of Rev. Philip Gell. His upbringing in the strictest Evangelical traditions of the Church of England was counteracted by his education under Thomas Arnold at Rugby, where he was a contemporary of Arthur Hugh Clough and A. P. Stanley, who described him as 'the noblest and most beloved' of Arnold's pupils. After graduating at Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1839; M.A., 1840) he sailed for Van Diemen's Land, recommended by Arnold to be head of the first institution of higher education under Sir John Franklin's government. Gell's original mind, natural spirits and equable temperament made him at once a friend of the Franklins, with whom he stayed on his arrival in March 1840. He shared their interest in art and science, in 1842, becoming secretary to the Franklin-inspired Tasmanian Society.

His aim for the college was that it should draw the existing schools up to the standard of English public schools while itself growing into the 'full stature of an English college'. … With subscriptions raised in England, Christ's College was finally refounded in 1846, wholly Anglican, built with church money and on church land at Bishopsbourne. Gell was appointed warden, and by February 1847 had 3 fellows, also in orders, 3 students of divinity, 6 scholars and 54 students. Satisfied in having established the college, endowed its library and seen the foundation of two feeder public schools on Arnold's principles, the Launceston Church Grammar School and the Hutchins School in Hobart, Gell left the colony in 1848. His perseverance and enthusiasm in the cause of colonial education during his eight years service in Van Diemen's Land were acknowledged in a farewell address, by generous endowment to a Gell scholarship at Christ's College from settlers of all denominations, and by the college staff, who presented a service of communion plate.

In England in 1849 he married Eleanor Isabella, Sir John Franklin's only child by his first marriage to Eleanor Anne Porden; Gell had met her in Tasmania. He obtained a curacy at St John's, Notting Hill. In 1852 he joined the Canterbury Association and was appointed bishop-designate of its settlement in New Zealand, but the appointment lapsed when the proposed see was not created. At this time the friendship he had previously enjoyed with Lady Franklin deteriorated as his wife's claims to her rightful inheritance from her mother's Porden estate were waived when Lady Franklin undertook the expensive quest for Sir John Franklin's lost Arctic expedition. On his wife's death, however, harmony was restored, Lady Franklin sharing his interest in J. W. Colenso's teachings.

Like others of his Rugby contemporaries, Gell tended to latitudinarianism in the 1860s. Near the end of his life he held a living at Buxted, Sussex, and earned minor repute as a Hebrew scholar. He died on 12 March 1898 in London, having had three sons and four daughters.

Author:
Frances J. Woodward, Gell, John Philip (1816-1898), Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, 2006,
www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A010401b.htm

The above extract has been reproduced with the permission of the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online


Generation No. 1
  1. Reverend John Philip Gell, M.A. was the son of Reverend Philip Gell and Elizabeth Gell [Dod]. He was born 10th Mar 1816 at Matlock, Derbyshire; christened 23rd Apr 1816 at Matlock, Derbyshire; died 12th Mar 1898 at London
  He married Eleanor Isabella Franklin on 1849. She was the daughter of Sir John Franklin and Eleanor Anne Franklin [Porden]. She was born 3rd Jun 1824 at London; christened 3rd Aug 1824 at St Mary, Marylebone, London. They had the following children:
  iElizabeth Eleanor Franklin who was born Apr to June 1850 at Marylebone, London, registered at Marylebone District, London, ref: 1850 Q2 Vol 1 Page 226
  iiJohn Franklin who was born Apr to June 1851 at Marylebone, London, registered at Marylebone District, London, ref: 1851 Q2 Vol 1 Page 241
  iiiPhilip Lyttelton who was born 29th Apr 1852 at Marylebone, London, registered at Marylebone District, London, ref: 1852 Q2 Vol 1a Page 366
  ivMary Frances who was born 1855 at Marylebone, London
  vHenry Willingham who was born 15th Oct 1856 at London, registered at Kensington District, London, ref: 1856 Q4 Vol 1a Page 56; christened 7th Nov 1856 St. John The Evangelist, Notting Hill, London
  viAlice Honora who was born 16th Nov 1857 at London, registered at Kensington District, London, ref: 1857 Q4 Vol 1a Page 80; christened 11th Dec 1857 St. John The Evangelist, Notting Hill, London
  viiLucy Dorothea who was born 29th Apr 1859 at London, registered at Kensington District, London, ref: 1859 Q2 Vol 1a Page 71; christened 22nd May 1859 St. John The Evangelist, Notting Hill, London
   

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