GELL, Philip (1775-1842), of Hopton Hall, nr. Wirksworth, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1807 - 1812
1812 - 1818

Family and Education

b. July 1775, 1st s. of Philip Gell of Hopton by Dorothy, da. and coh. of William Milnes of Aldercar Park. educ. Manchester sch. 1784. m. 29 May 1797, Georgiana Anne, da. of Nicholas Nicholas of Bowbridgefield, and Boys Court, Kent, 1s. d.v.p. 1da. surv. suc. fa. 1795.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Derbys. 1822-3.

Lt. Derbys. yeomanry 1794, capt. 1798; capt. 2 regt. Derbys. militia 1803; capt. N. Derbys. yeoman cav. 1817, maj. 1820.


Gell’s grandfather John Eyre succeeded to the name and estate of his uncle the third and last baronet of Hopton; his father was a Derbyshire country gentleman and magistrate who contested Derby in 1772; of Gell himself it was said that he ‘lived a quiet uneventful life as a country squire’, improving his estate and rebuilding his residence. In 1800 he was on the Continent, furnished with a letter of introduction to Lord Minto at Vienna by the Duchess of Devonshire.1

Gell wished for a seat in Parliament and had the offer of one for Malmesbury sprung upon him in 1807, when his friend Thomas Grimston Estcourt* had the disposal of it. Estcourt, believing that ‘in politics our opinions are very similar’, suggested the terms

now in use viz. £4,000, a proportion to be returned for every session which the Parliament may sit short of six. The political conditions with you none but such as one honourable man would make with another. My political connections are most anxious to support the King, and by no means to enter into a systematic opposition. In these leading points you I believe agree with us. In the minor points we cannot disagree.

Gell accepted at once on receiving the letter next day, 30 Apr. 1807. His only problem was time to find the money.2

Gell made little mark in Parliament. No speech of his is known. He voted with the minorities on the mutiny bill, 14 Mar. 1808, and on alleged ministerial corruption, 25 Apr. 1809. He supported both opposition motions critical of the Scheldt expedition, 26 Jan. and 30 Mar. 1810, which made the Whigs ‘hopeful’ of him, but he gave them no particular encouragement thereafter. Nor did he entirely follow his sponsor’s line of adhering to Lord Sidmouth. His only known votes for the remainder of the Parliament were for Catholic relief, 24 Apr., for sinecure reform (with the majority) 4 May, and against Stuart Wortley’s motion for a stronger government, 21 May 1812.

Through his patron’s friend Sidmouth, Gell accepted a seat for the next Parliament late in 1811.3 His new patron was Lord de Dunstanville and he stood the expense of a contest at Penryn. He appeared on the Treasury list after the election. He proceeded to vote against Catholic relief, 2 Mar., 11 May and (by pairing) 24 May 1813, and did so again on 9 May 1817. Otherwise his only known votes were with ministers for the civil list, 8 May 1815, for the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816, and for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817. He did not seek re-election in 1818.

Gell died 25 Jan. 1842, devising his estate to his only surviving child, the wife of William Pole Thornhill.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Manchester Sch. Reg. ii. 1331; Gent. Mag. (1804), ii. 1126; NLS mss 11229, f. 212.
  • 2. Glos. RO, Sotheron Estcourt mss D.1571.
  • 3. Sidmouth mss, De Dunstanville to Sidmouth, 5 Nov. 1811.
  • 4. PCC 1842, f. 255.