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Gell of Hopton Hall

The Gell family played a big part in local society with members serving as MPs, High Sheriffs, JPs and parish officers as well as promoting local railway and canal initiatives at a national level.

The 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.

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

Sir John Gell, Parliamentarian, 1593-1671

Thomas Sanders, a Parliamentarian, commanded a troop of horse in Derbyshire during the English Civil War. His senior officer was Sir John Gell (1593-1671), commander in chief of Parliamentary forces in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire from 1643 and Governor of Derby from 1644 until he was removed from office in 1646.

Sir John was the eldest son of Thomas Gell (15321594) of Hopton, and Millicent, daughter of Ralph Sacheverel. His father died in 1594 just before the birth of his brother Thomas, (15941656),later recorder and M.P. for Derby. His mother then married John Curzon of Kedleston, to whose house she took her sons in 1598, and she bore their stepbrother, Sir John Curzon.

John Gell married Elizabeth Willoughby (1593/41644), the sixteen-year-old daughter of Sir Percival Willoughby of Wollaton, near Nottingham, in 1610

After the death of his wife, in 1644, his influence within the parliamentarian cause began to decline. In 1647 he married Mary Stanhope, Sir John's widow and daughter of Sir John Radcliffe of Ordsall, Lancashire, themarriage was dissolved within a year.

He was made a baronet in January 1642, and headed the County Committee that controlled Parliamentarian forces in Derbyshire. He was also active in Staffordshire and other Midland counties. He successfully took over command at the siege of Lichfield after the death of Lord Brooke (Robert Greville), in 1643, then collaborated with Sir William Brereton (1604-61) to defeat the Earl of Northampton at the battle of Hopton Heath. Gell was appointed governor of Derby in 1643.

His troops were notorious for plundering and Gell himself was suspected of planning to join the King just before the Battle of Naseby. In 1650 he was found guilty of plotting against the Commonwealth and imprisoned. He was released in 1652 and took no further part in public life. He did, eventually regain his estates when the monarchy was restored in 1660

John Gell died on 26 October 1671 and was buried at St Mary's, Wirksworth, Derbyshire. His son and heir, was John.

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

Notes re John Eyre: John Eyre of Hopton, Esq, was son of William Eyre of Highlow, Esq. and Catherine, daughter of Sir John Gell. He was married to Isabella Jessop . Refer to the Jessop Pedigree.

In his will December, 1801, Rev. James Wilkinson gave Broomhall to his cousin Philip Gell of Hopton, esquire, the estate of Broomhall. Philip was the son of John Gell and Isabella Jessop.

Mr Gell disposed of a great part of his property and Broomhall passed by sale into the hands of Mr. John Watson of Shiercliffe Hall.

Pedigree of Gell

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 1st 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, 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 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

Revd John Philip Gell 1816-1898 was sent by Thomas Arnold of Rugby School to promote education in Tasmania, where he also served as Chaplain to the Governor, the explorer Sir John Franklin

In Australia he met Eleanor Isabella Franklin, Sir John Franklin's only child by his first wife Eleanor Porden. They married in England in 1849 and resided in Sussex

Philip Lyttleton Gell 1852-1926, the son of Revd J. P. Gell and Eleanor Franklin, was closely connected with the development and mineral exploitation of Southern Africa, 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, who 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.

Sir William Gell(1777-1836)

Sir William Gell was born at Hopton Hall , the younger son of Philip Gell and his wife Dorothy nee Milnes . He was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, graduating BA in 1798 and MA in 1804. He was elected a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Following a successful diplomatic mission to lonia in 1803, Gell was awarded a knighthood. William Gell made Italy his home, he had a cottage in Rome for the summer months and a house in Naples. He died in 1836 and was buried in the English cemetery there.

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