|Administrative History||John Philip Gell (1816-1898) was the eldest son of Reverend Philip Gell and his wife Elizabeth (nee Dod). From the age of 14 he was educated at Rugby School, whose headmaster was Dr Thomas Arnold. He then went to study at Trinity College, Cambridge. |
On the recommendation of Dr Arnold to Sir John Franklin, Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemne's Land, he sailed to the island of Tasmania in 1839 to become the head of a school along the lines of the school run by Dr Arnold at Rugby. He became good friends of the Franklin family, with whom he stayed after his arrival in December 1839, becoming particularly friendly with daughter Eleanor Isabella, to whom he became engaged before the Franklins returned to England in 1843. In spite of enormous obstacles caused by factional politics, religious differences in Tasmania, and the opposition of Sir John's replacement as Governor, he managed to establish, eventually, Christ College, with Gell installed as its first Warden on 1 Oct 1846. He also as set up two feeder schools in Launceston and Hobart.
He returned to England late in 1848 and married Eleanor Isabella Franklin on 7 June 1849 at the church of St George, Bloomsbury. While he had been in Tasmania he had been ordained in 1843, becoming incumbent of St John's, Hobart. On his return to England he settled down to a life as a parish priest, having failed in an attempt to become headmaster of Rugby School. From 1849 he served as a curate at St Mary's, Bryanston Square, and in 1854 he became Perpetual Curate of St John's, Notting Hill, where he stayed for 24 years. Although initially keen to retire in 1878, he was persuaded to continue, being made Rector of Buxted, Sussex, in which capacity he served for 20 years until his death in 1898.
He and Eleanor Isabella had seven children: Elizabeth Eleanor Franklin (1850-1909), John Franklin (1851-1884), Philip Lyttelton (1852-1926), Mary Frances (1854-1946), Henry Willingham (1856-1942), Alice Honora (1857-1927) and Lucy Dorothea (1859-1939). Eleanor Isabella Gell died on 30 August 1860, while the family was on holiday at Tredunnoc, Monmouthshire; he did not re-marry.
There is a chapter on Gell in "The Doctor's Disciples: A Study of Four Pupils of Arnold of Rugby" by Frances J. Woodward, published by Oxford University Press, 1954, pages 73-126.