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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D258
TitleGell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
DescriptionThe Gell of Hopton papers reflect the part the family played in local society with members serving as MPs, High Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace and parish officers as well as promoting local railway and canal initiatives at a national level.

The records include much material dealing with matters leading up to the Civil War as well as the prominent role played by Sir John Gell I and his brother Thomas for the Parliamentary side during the Civil War and Commonwealth. The records include papers relating to Sir John's involvement with the Derby Committee 1644-1645 and his later trial for high treason.

The letters of Sir William Gell (1777-1836) to members of his family reflect his interests in history especially Pompeii, near Naples (Italy), diplomacy, gardening and his life in Italy where he spent most of his life after leaving England in 1814 as part of the entourage of Caroline, estranged wife of the Prince of Wales (later George IV).

There are papers, photographs etc. reflecting the military career of Brigadier-General Harry Chandos-Pole-Gell, particularly during the Boer War and World War I
The records also show the development of the estate by acquisition of properties by purchase or marriage, in some cases including deeds back to the 13th century. There are manorial records for Hopton and Carsington, Wirksworth, Hognaston, Hope, Hulland and Middleton by Wirksworth. Lead was an important factor in the family's wealth and there are many records showing the family's careful protection of its interests

Reference Description Dates
D258/1/1-62 Title deeds including lead ore tithe 1549-1872
D258/2/1-44 Title deeds 1657-1875
D258/3/1-11 Title deeds [1281]-1783
D258/4/1-7 Accounts 1672-1777
D258/5/1 Accounts 1641-1788
D258/5/2-11, 6/1-2 Philip Gell 1790-1840
D258/7/1 Medieval deeds including court case 1786 [1247]-1360
D258/7/2-5 Various [1624-1812
D258/7/6 Assessments for ship money etc 1635-1678
D258/7/7-7/13/1-18 Various 1552-1784
D258/7/13/19-35 Assessments 1676-1687
D258/7/13/36-40 Various 1577-1718
D258/7/13/41-48 Assessments 1682-1704
D258/7/13/49-62, 7/14-19 Various 1553-1684
D258/7/20 Mining [1540]-1708
D258/8/1 Correspondence Christian-Gell re lead ore 1672
D258/8/2-56 Various [1549]-1748
D258/9/1-17 Thomas Gell including election 1626-1658
D258/10/1-90 John Gell, civil war etc including court cases [1580]-1781
D258/11/1-30 Various 1594-1824
D258/12/1-43 Various 1603-1682
D258/13/1-76 Title deeds etc [1309]-1718
D258/14/1-16 Various 1764-1834
D258/15/1-3 17th cent printed 1628-1705
D258/16/1-36 Title deeds etc [1288]-1688
D258/17/1-9 Quarter Sessions 1820-1841
D258/17/10 Business - Canals and railways 1813-1841
D258/17/11-29 Miscellaneous 1552-1840
D258/17/30-31 Correspondence 1553-1720
D258/17/32 Philip Gell correspondence including Cromford Canal [1778]-1838
D258/17/33-44 Various 1531-1839
D258/17/45 Philip Gell correspondence etc 1777-1836
D258/18/1-3 Manor of Hope 1699-1819
D258/18/4 Ashbourne lectureship 1633-1693
D258/18/5-18/7/1-4 Estate papers 1643-1709
D258/18/7/5-29 Wirksworth School 1584-1796
D258/18/7/30-38, 18/8 Estate papers 1651-1783
D258/18/9 Hopton and Carsington manor court 1752-1801
D258/18/10 Wirksworth manor court 1754-1776
D258/18/11 Hognaston manor court 1752-1801
D258/18/12 Middleton by Wirksworth manor court 1752-1811
D258/18/13 Hulland manor court 1796
D258/18/14-19 Title deeds etc 1538-1771
D258/18/20 Assessments 1611-1686
D258/18/21-34 Title deeds etc 1540-1729
D258/18/35-38 Miscellaneous printed items 1831-1839
D258/19/1-30 Various 1571-1816
D258/19/31/1-23 Ashbourne lectureship 1690-1691
D258/19/31/24-33, 19/32-34 Various 1953-1901
D258/20/1-66, 21/1-20 Various [1470]-1798
D258/21/21-24 Philip Gell correspondence 1792-1796
D258/21/25 Quarter Sessions 1826-1833
D258/21/26-46/1-23 Various 1671-[1800]
D258/21/46/24-35 Philip Gell correspondence 1769-1792
D258/21/47-66, 22/1-23 Various 1574-1849
D258/23/1-19/1-5 Title deeds etc including Wirksworth manor court, Witton (Durham) manor court 1562-1823
D258/23/19/6-26, 23/20-22 Correspondence 1556-1735
D258/24/1-5 Sir Philip Gell [1606]-1737
D258/24/6/1-26 Ashbourne lectureship 1689-1693
D258/24/6/27, 24/7-8 Various 1693-1717
D258/24/9/1-61 Wirksworth Hundred land tax assessments 1705-1711
D258/24/10 Wirksworth Hundred poll tax assessments 1689
D258/24/11-29 Various 1625-1816
D258/24/30-47 Sir Philip Gell 1625-1811
D258/24/48 Fogg v Gell case 1671-1719
D258/24/49-54 Sir Philip Gell 1996-1781
D258/25/1-25 Miscellaneous legal, financial and other papers 1420-1835
D258/26/1-23 Title deeds etc [1288]-[c1820]
D258/27/1-4 Medieval deeds [1200]-1546
D258/27/5-17 Various [1493]-[1688]
D258/28/1-53 Title deeds [1279]-1828
D258/29/1 Thomas Browne bankrupt 1804-1818
D258/29/2-4 Joseph Watson's estate accounts 1813-1827
D258/29/5 Quarter Sessions 1765-1782
D258/30/1-49 John Gell including High Treason charge [1579]-1687
D258/30/50-53 Thomas Gell 1504-1654
D258/31/1-16 Title deeds [1510]-1822
D258/32/1 John Gell 1650-1653
D258/32/2 Estate 1415-1639
D258/32/3-13 Honour of Tutbury 1554-[1800]
D258/32/14-52 Various 1571-1827
D258/33/1-2/1-24 Correspondence 1552-1718
D258/33/2/25, 33/3-21 Various [1546]-1703
D258/33/22-23 Overseers of the Poor Hopton 1692-1715
D258/33/24-38 Various [1550]-1783
D258/34/1-86 John Gell including Wirksworth Hundred assessments 1511-1711
D258/35/1-55 Various accounts, deeds etc including Wirksworth Hundred land tax assessments [1547]-1812
D258/36/1/1-34 Anthony Gell 1559-1592
D258/36/1/35-36, 36/2-8 Title deeds 1394-1604
D258/36/9/49 Various [1525]-1905
D258/37/1-6 Title deeds [1297]-1737
D258/37/7-25 Various [1546]-1664
D258/38/1-8 Correspondence etc 1567-1729
D258/39/1-10 Title deeds 1318-1794
D258/41/1-21 Various 1583-1856
D258/41/22-23 Cromford and High Peak Railway 1769-1830
D258/41/24-38, 42 Various 1680-1828
D258/43 Hopton receipt papers 1804-1877
D258/44 Sir John Gell c.1680
D258/45/1-10 Philip Gell's estates, deeds etc 1310-1897
D258/45/11-38 Deeds and papers re Jessop family of Broomhall (Yorkshire) 1320-1842
D258/45/39 Philip Gell 1745-1841
D258/45/40 Chandos Pole Gell 1724-1898
D258/45/41 Wirksworth School 1817-1826
D258/45/42 Miscellaneous 1641-1731
D258/45/47 Wilkinson: collection of taxes 1718-1730
D258/45/48 Anthony Gell School 1584-1834
D258/45/49 Miscellaneous 1620-1818
D258/45/50 Wilkinson lands in Boroughbridge and Aldborough 1598-1703
D258/45/51 Miscellaneous 1634-1701
D258/45/52 Drax 1535-1536
D258/45/53-55 Miscellaneous 1637-1856
D258/46 Staffordshire estate paper 1834-1879
D258/48/1-11 Philip Gell 1791-1877
D258/48/12-28, 49 Various 1597-1868
D258/50/1-155 Sir William Gell (1777-1836) family letters 1801-1834
D258/51 Various 1825-1923
D258/52 Volume of bound letters and other documents 1673-1828
D258/53 Printed pamphlets 1612-1825
D258/54 Isabella Thornhill 1850s-1870s
D258/55 Pedigrees and other papers 1671-1966
D258/56 Gell family papers series A-D 1569-1912
D258/57 Family papers 1643-1918
D2258/58-62 Various 16th cent-1951
D2258/64 Boer War 1899-1902
D258/65/1-17 Henry Chandos Pole Gell 1722-1919
D258/65/18-21 Family papers 1819-1907
D258/67 Masque by William Browne 1614-20th cent
D258/68-70, 72 Pedigrees, plans and other 1711-19th cent
D258/71 Diary of Isabella Thornhill
Extent125 Boxes
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Full Catalogue ListClick here to view a full list for this collection
Archive CreatorGell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
Administrative HistoryThe Gell family is known to have been living in the Hopton area from at least the 14th century. In 1553 Ralph Gell (1491-1564) bought the Hopton estate as well as Rocester and Darley Abbeys and the royal manor of Hollands (or Richmonds). Ralph's eldest son Anthony (died 1584) was a barrister at Inner Temple in London who founded Wirksworth Grammar School and almshouses and bought the manor of Carsington. Anthony was succeeded by his brother Thomas (died 1594). Thomas built an Elizabethan manor house at Hopton which was later known as Hopton Hall. The house was largely remodelled by Philip Gell in the early nineteenth century.

During the minority of Thomas's son John (1593-1671), the estates were administered by his stepfather John Curzon of Kedleston. John was created a baronet in 1642. He occupied Derby in 1643 on behalf of Parliament. His estates were sequestered in 1651 and he was imprisoned until 1653. He eventually regained his estates when the monarchy was restored in 1660.

Sir John Gell II (1613-1689) and his son Sir Philip Gell (1651-1719) served as Members of Parliament for Derbyshire. Sir Philip Gell died without issue and the estate devolved on John Eyre, son of Catherine, Sir Philip's sister. John Eyre (died 1739) took the name Gell. His son Philip Eyre Gell (1723-1795) left the estate to his son Philip Gell (1775-1842).

When Philip died in 1842 his brother the antiquarian Sir William Gell (1777-1836) and uncle Admiral John Gell (1740-1806) had already died without children. Philip left the estate to his daughter Isabella wife of William Pole Thornhill of Stanton for life. Isabella and her husband took the name Gell and lived at Hopton Hall for a short time but eventually renounced the inheritance. The Eyre Gell line died with Isabella Thornhill in 1878. In accordance with Philip's will the estate passed to Henry Chandos-Pole of Radbourne.

The Chandos family acquired Radbourne by marriage to a co-heir of Robert de Ferrers of Egginton (died c1225), grandson of William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby. In the early 15th century Elizabeth wife of Sir Peter de la Pole became the heir of her uncle Sir John Chandos. The Chandos-Pole family made several marriages into local gentry families such as FitzHerbert, Cockayne, Mundy, Newdigate, Sacheverell, Wilmot and Stanhope.

Henry Chandos-Pole (1829-1902), second son of Edward Sacheverell Chandos-Pole, inherited Hopton Hall and estate from Philip Gell and took the name Gell in 1863. His son Brigadier-General Harry Anthony Chandos-Pole-Gell (1872-1934) and his grandson Lieutenant-Colonel John Chandos-Pole-Gell (born 1909) relinquished the surname Gell in 1930 and 1931.

The Hopton estate was inherited by Brigadier-General Harry Chandos-Pole-Gell in 1902. His main seat was at Heverswood/Kent and Hopton was let to Philip Lyttleton Gell, a relative from a cadet branch at Wirksworth, from 1904. The Chandos-Pole-Gell family sold the estate in 1918 and it was bought in 1920 by Philip Lyttleton Gell, who was descended from the youngest son of Ralph Gell (1491-1564). John Gell (died 1564) was the youngest son of Ralph Gell (1491-1564). His descendants acquired property in Wirksworth Gate House, Kirk Langley and Duffield, especially by marriages into gentry families such as Lowe, Borough, Hurt and Wright.

Revd John Philip Gell (1816-1898) was sent by Thomas Arnold of Rugby School to promote education in Van Diemen's Land now Tasmania, Australia where he also served as Chaplain to the Governor, the explorer Sir John Franklin

In Australia Revd JP Gell met Eleanor Isabella Franklin, Sir John Franklin's only child by his first wife Eleanor Anne Porden. They married in England in 1849 and settled in Buxted Sussex

Philip Lyttleton Gell (1852-1926), son of Revd JP Gell and Eleanor Franklin, was closely connected with the development and mineral exploitation of Southern Africa, especially Rhodesia, and Western Australia. He bought Hopton Hall and the estates in 1920. He died without children and the estate passed on his widow's death to his nephew Philip Victor Willingham Gell. PVW Gell died in 1970 and the house and estate were sold after the death of his widow in 1986. His son Major Anthony Gell died in 1998.
Custodial HistoryThe first deposit of material in this collection was by a member of the family with the County Council at a date before 1952, some years before the establishment of Derbyshire Record Office. The records were accessioned in 1969 with subsequent deposits by the family solicitors 1979-1990. The papers were created and collected by various members of the family. The collection has been accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and permanently allocated to Derbyshire Record Office. The diary of Isabella Thornhill (D258/71/1) was added to the collection in January 2015, after being purchased at auction in September 2014.

In some instances related papers have been split and stored in different family homes see D3287, D3311, D4431.
ArrangementThe collection was not in archival order when it arrived at Derbyshire Record Office. Original bundles had been worked on in the past and in many cases were broken up. Listing work at Derbyshire Record Office has been at item and bundle level but related papers have not been brought together. Related material is to be found throughout the collection, and readers are advised to look widely in the list for relevant material.
Organisation Sub-TypeFamily and estate
Related MaterialDerbyshire Record Office holds a newscuttings book 1869-1897 compiled by Brigadier-General Harry Chandos-Pole-Gell and an account book 1956-1990 compiled by his son Lieutenant John Chandos-Pole D4431 and title deeds for Chandos-Pole property in Derby 1698-1900 D483

The Record Office also holds records of Sir John Franklin and his family including letters, diaries and poems of Eleanor Anne Franklin nee Porden, letters and journals of William Porden, letters and other papers of Sir John Franklin and Lady Jane Franklin, as well as letters of Eleanor Isabella Gell nee Franklin. There are some prints and several printed works including works by and belonging to Eleanor Anne Franklin nee Porden and works about the Arctic and Franklin's expeditions see D3311

The Gell of Wirksworth records in Derbyshire Record Office D3287 include diaries, letters and printed works of Revd John Philip Gell and his wife in England and Australia, as well as of his father Revd Philip Gell. There are family letters and records of charitable work of Philip Lyttleton Gell, his wife Edith author of Under Three Reigns, his sisters and his uncle Frederick, Bishop of Madras. The papers of Sir William Gell 1777-1836, diplomat and antiquarian, include correspondence with Caroline, estranged wife of the Prince of Wales later George IV as he served in her entourage in England and abroad. There are letters reflecting the military career of Colonel George Maunsell in India, the Transvaal and World War I and the active service during World War I of his son in law PVW Gell. Philip Lyttleton Gell's business activities are well-represented with records of British South Africa company 1899-1925, Rhodesian Cold Storage and Trading Company Ltd c1903-1924, London and Western Australian Exploration Company 1895-1909 and British Exploration of Australasia Ltd 1900-1910. The deeds of the Gell family estate at Gate House, Wirksworth 1740-1945, Civil War printed pamphlets, Anthony Gell's notebooks and legal case books 1557-1570 are to be found, as well as deeds from the 16th century and records relating to the leadmining industry
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