GELL, Philip (1651-1719), of Hopton, Wirksworth, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



3 Jan. 1681
18 Apr. 1689

Family and Education

bap. 6 July 1651, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir John Gell, 2nd Bt.. m. 26 Nov. 1678, Elizabeth, da. of John Fagg I of Wiston, Suss., s.p. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 8 Feb. 1689.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Levant Co. 1676; commr. for assessment, Derbys. 1679-80, 1689-90, Suss. 1690; j.p. Derbys. Mar. 1688-d.; receiver, honour of Tutbury 1689-d.; dep. lt. Derbys. 1690-d.2


Gell, after an apprenticeship to a leading Turkey merchant, was living at Smyrna as a factor when his elder brother died in 1674. Ordered home by his father, he was captured by corsairs, and force-marched across the desert from Derna to Tripoli. After brutal treatment from his captors he was released by the English fleet under Sir John Narborough. He stood on his father-in-law’s interest for Steyning at the second general election of 1679, and was seated on petition only a week before the prorogation of the second Exclusion Parliament, in which he made no speeches and served on no committees. He does not appear to have stood for reelection, but after the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament he was reported to be the dissenters’ choice for Shoreham, though he seems to have been a churchman himself. However, he is not likely to have stood for any constituency in 1685.3

Gell may have been reckoned a Whig collaborator like his father, as he was appointed to the commission of the peace in February 1688. He rallied to the Revolution rather late in the day, forming part of Princess Anne’s escort on her return to London. On his father’s death a few months later he succeeded him as knight of the shire, and became a moderately active Member of the Convention. He was appointed to 21 committees, including those to consider the Lords amendments to the bill of rights, to reverse the judgments against Titus Oates, and to inquire into the delay in relieving Londonderry. After the recess he was among those instructed to prepare charges against the former Treasury solicitors and to inquire into the miscarriages and expenses of the war. He was given leave to go into the country for three weeks on 21 Dec. 1689, but may have returned early, since he is listed as supporting the disabling clause in the bill for restoring corporations, and was named to the committee on the bill to impose a general oath of allegiance.4

Gell probably never stood again. It was said of him that ‘he thinks to avoid censure by not acting’. He died on 15 July 1719 and was buried at Wirksworth, the last of the family.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: E. R. Edwards


  • 1. Jnl. Derbys. Arch. Soc. xxxiv. 149; Add. 5698, f. 263.
  • 2. Sir Robert Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster Office Holders, 165; HMC Cowper, ii. 358.
  • 3. Information from Miss Sonia P. Anderson; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, p. 398; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 473.
  • 4. R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, pp. 370-2.
  • 5. HMC Cowper, iii. 12.