Show ContentsGell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Gell family arrived in England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Gell came from the classical French name Gellius. [1] The name is also a pet form of the female given name Juliana or Gillian, and occasionally was given to children through rare metronymic descent. This occasionally occurred if a man married twice; in such a case the children of his second marriage would bear the name of their mother to distinguish them from the children of their father's first marriage.

Early Origins of the Gell family

The surname Gell was first found in Yorkshire and Derbyshire. "Hopton [in Derbyshire] was the property and residence of Sir John Gell, who, when Charles I. raised the royal standard at Nottingham, proceeded to Derby, assembled a strong body of troops for the parliament, and performed a conspicuous part throughout the war." [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list: Gelle Winter in Cambridgeshire; and Emma Gele in Suffolk. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 list Thomas Gele. [3]

Early History of the Gell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gell research. Another 113 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1651, 1719, 1740, 1806, 1775, 1842, 1593, 1671, 1593, 1612, 1689 and 1665 are included under the topic Early Gell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gell Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Gell, Gill, Jell and others.

Early Notables of the Gell family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir John Gell, 1st Baronet (1593-1671), a Parliamentarian politician and military figure in the English Civil War. His family were Wirksworth/Hopton area landholders for over 500 years. He was the son of Thomas Gell of Hopton, Derbyshire, and Millicent, daughter of Ralph Sacheverell, was born 22 June 1593. [4] His...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Gell migration to the United States +

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Gell or a variant listed above:

Gell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Christian Gell, who landed in Maryland in 1668 [5]
Gell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Gell who arrived in Philadelphia in 1741
Gell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Paul Gell, who arrived in St Clair County, Illinois in 1864 [5]

Australia Gell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Gell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Joseph Gell, English convict who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Elphinstone" on 20th January 1836, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [6]
  • A.D. Gell, who arrived in Glenelg Roads aboard the ship "Pestonjee Bomanjee" in 1838 [7]
  • Charles Gell, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "John Munn" in 1849 [8]

New Zealand Gell migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Gell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Gell, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • John Gell, aged 29, a carpenter, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1842 [9]
  • Martha Gell, aged 27, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1842 [9]
  • Elizabeth Gell, aged 3, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1842 [9]
  • Mary Gell, aged 1, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1842 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Gell (post 1700) +

  • William Gell (1777-1836), English archaeologist and illustrator
  • Mary Gell (1894-1978), Manx medical missionary
  • Edith Mary Gell (1866-1944), English writer and Christian activist
  • Sir William Gell (1777-1836), English classical archaeologist and traveller, the younger son of Philip Gell of Hopton in Derbyshire [10]
  • Rob Gell (b. 1952), Australian meteorologist and TV weather presenter
  • Harry Dickson Gell (1845-1929), English-born, Australian accountant in South Australia
  • David Gell (b. 1929), Canadian DJ and television presenter
  • Professor Phillip Gell, Experimental Pathology
  • Philip Lyttelton Gell (b. 1880), British editor for Oxford University Press
  • Alfred Gell (1945-1997), British social anthropologist

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th March 2022). Retrieved from
  7. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The PESTONJEE BOMANJEE 1838. Retrieved from
  8. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) JOHN MUNN 1849. Retrieved from
  9. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 7th November 2010). Retrieved from
  10. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020 on Facebook