Guide to the Papers of the Gell and Franklin families (as filmed by the AJCP)
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
Franklin Family (Hobart)
Gell Family (London)
Franklin, John, Sir
Gell, nee Franklin, Eleanor Isabella
Gell, John Phillip, Rev
- Papers of the Gell and Franklin families (as filmed by the AJCP)
- Date Range
- 1800 - 1961
- Collection Number
- M377-M380, M390
- 31 items
- Language of Materials
- Australian Joint Copying Project
- The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.
Scope and Contents
The papers of Rev. J.P. Gell and his wife include letters to Eleanor Isabella from Sir John and Lady Franklin, and both original correspondence and copies of correspondence and papers about the Queen's School and Christ's College.
Correspondents include Ronald C. Gunn of Hobart. There are also notebooks and diaries, including a diary describing Gell's voyage to Van Diemen's Land on the convict ship Runnymede in 1839-40.
Besides the letters from Franklin to his daughter, there are papers of both Sir John and Lady Franklin. These include a few drafts of official letters written by Franklin while Governor of Van Diemen's Land and some of his private and official correspondence. Among letters to Franklin is one from Matthew Flinders 1812. Includes a series of letters from Franklin to Dr John Richardson, surgeon and naturalist. The original Franklin papers are supplemented by a collection of copies of letters, some handwritten and some typescript, chiefly from Franklin. The copies include typescripts of letters written by Franklin aboard the Investigator.
Reel M390: Phyllis Mander Jones (AJCP Offier). Notes about the Gell Archives compiled by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, with special reference to papers of Australian interest, 23 February 1961. (3pp)
Conditions Governing Access
Available for access.
Conditions Governing Use
Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.
Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project. Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.
Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref: http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-987654321)
Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1960-61. (AJCP reel M377-80, M390). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.
Existence and Location of Originals
Colonel P.V.W. Gell Wirksworth, Derbyshire
Existence and Location of Copies
The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [https://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn1870666] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.
The letters to Sir John Franklin were re-filmed at the end of reel M380.
Finding Aid Note
This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by The National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.
Schools: Australia; ; Convict ships; Emigrant voyages; Flinders, Matthew, Capt.; Franklin Family; Franklin, Jane, Lady; Franklin, Sir John; Gell Family; Gell, Arthur D.; Gell, Eleanor I.; Gell, John P., Rev.; Gunn, Ronald C.; Hobart, Tasmania; Tasmania: immigration to; Investigator, HMS (ship); Longford, Tasmania; ; Richardson, Sir John; Runnymede, Convict ship; Tasmania: schools; Governors and Governors General: Tasmania; Tasmania
Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry number 181, page 66.
Biographical / Historical
Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) was born at Spilsby, Lincolnshire. He entered the Royal Navy in 1800. He served as a midshipman under Matthew Flinders, his uncle by marriage, on the exploring voyage of HMS Investigator in 1801-4. In 1805 he took part in the Battle of Trafalgar. In 1818 he was second-in-command of an expedition searching for the North-West Passage and he led expeditions to the Arctic regions of North America in 1819-22 and 1824-28. He was knighted in 1829. In 1830-33 he commanded HMS Rainbow off the coast of Greece. In 1836 he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land and he arrived in Hobart in January 1837. As a result of a dispute with the Colonial Secretary, John Montagu, whom he dismissed, he was recalled by Lord Stanley in 1843. In 1845 he was given command of HMS Erebus on another expedition in search of the North-West Passage. The expedition was last seen by Europeans in July 1845 and it was later found that Franklin had died at Beechey Island in June 1847.
Jane Franklin nee Griffin (1791-1875) was born in London, the daughter of a silk weaver. She married John Franklin in 1828, his first wife having died in 1825. She accompanied her husband to Van Diemen's Land in 1836 and played a conspicuous role in the life of the colony. She was an energetic traveller and was the first woman to travel overland from Port Phillip to Sydney and from Hobart to Macquarie Harbour. Following the disappearance of HMS Erebus and Terror in 1846, she spent many years pressing for and supporting search expeditions. She had no children, but in her later years she was accompanied on her numerous overseas journeys by Sir John Franklin's niece, Sophia Cracroft (1816-1892).
John Philip Gell (1816-1898) was born in Matlock, Derbyshire, the eldest son of Reverend Philip Gell. He was educated at Rugby, under the headmaster Thomas Arnold, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1839 he sailed to Van Diemen's Land with the intention of establishing a college of higher education on Arnoldian principles. Soon after his arrival in Hobart he opened the Queen's School in Hobart, but he had a long struggle before Christ's College was finally opened at Bishopsbourne in 1846. Gell was ordained a priest in 1845 and was Warden of Christ's College. He returned to England in 1849 and was given a curacy in London. He was the vicar of St John's Church, Notting Hill, from 1854 to 1878 and the Rector of Buxted, Sussex, from 1878 until his death.
Eleanor Isabella Franklin (1824-1860) was the daughter of Sir John Franklin and his first wife Eleanor Franklin nee Porden. In 1836 she accompanied her father, step-mother and cousin, Sophia Cracroft, to Van Diemen's Land. While living in Hobart she became engaged to John Gell, but they did not marry until 1849. They had seven children.
Arthur Daniel Gell (1822-1848) was the youngest son of Rev. Philip and Elizabeth Gell. In 1838 he sailed to South Australia where he was the private secretary of the Governor, Colonel George Gawler. When Gawler was recalled in 1841, Gell remained in the colony and worked as a clerk in the Colonial Secretary's Department. In 1848 Edward J. Eyre, who had been appointed lieutenant-governor of New Zealand, selected him as his private secretary. Gell drowned when the ship Calypso was wrecked on the voyage from Sydney to New Zealand.
Philip Lyttelton Gell (1852-1926) was the second son of John and Eleanor Gell. He was educated at Kings College, University of London, and Balliol College, Oxford, and his early career was spent in publishing. He was secretary to the Oxford University Press. He was later active in business and was chairman of the British South Africa Company and a director of the Rhodesian Lands Company, the Rhodesia Trading Company and British Exploration of Australasia Ltd.
Originally filmed on AJCP reels M377-M378.
The notebook contains Gell's personal accounts recording his expenses while attending Cambridge University, preparing for his voyage to Van Diemen's Land (1839) and during his first two years in Hobart. They include his expenses on his outfit for the voyage, tuition fees (1840-41), expenditure on schoolbooks (1841) and his account with Rev. Robert Allwood (1844). (c. 150pp)
This extremely detailed diary records Gell's voyage in the Runnymede (Capt. W.B. Forward) from Sheerness to Hobart. The ship carried 200 convict boys and much of the diary is devoted to Gell's efforts in teaching the boys, medical inspections, thefts and other offences committed by the boys, floggings and other punishments, decisions of the surgeon-superintendent, and conversations (sometimes verbatim) between Gell and some of the boys. In addition, there are references to the weather, the seas, seasickness, living conditions on the ship, meals, accidents and illnesses, Gell's reading and reflections arising from his reading, sighting of Madeira and Trinidad Island, Crossing the Line ceremonies, Christmas Day, the observance of Sundays, sightings of albatrosses and porpoises, the visit to Cape Town, the South African College, sightings of other ships, reflections on religion, education and the regulation of the convict service, sighting of Van Diemen's Land, and Gell's plans on arriving at Hobart. (c. 160 pp)
The letters filmed were mostly written by Tasmanians who had known Gell when he lived in Hobart or who knew of his work in the colony. In some cases, the correspondents were visiting or living in Britain. The letters refer to families and mutual friends, the deaths of old friends, recollections of Christ's College, Bishopsbourne, Tasmanian clergy visiting England, the appointment of bishops in Australian, and Bishops Francis Nixon, Charles Bromby and Henry Montgomery.
The most regular correspondent was Maria Davies, the wife of Archdeacon Robert Davies. Other correspondents include Rev. Edward Adams (Hagley), Rev. R.R. Atkinson (Dorking), Bishop Charles Bromby (Hobart), Rev. John Buckland (Sunbury-on-Thames), Rev. J. Bucknell (Worthing), Rev. R.H. Christie (Carnac River), Rev. F.H. Cox (Hawkhurst), Rev. Robert Davies (Hobart), Rev. William Dry (Edinburgh, St Leonards), Rev. Joseph Gellibrand (Auckland), C.C. McDowell (Cuckfield) and J.V. Swanston (Brighton). (34 letters)
Subjects mentioned in the letters include Gell's voyage to Van Diemen's Land, convict boys, his visit to Adelaide and travels in the country south of Adelaide (1841), Governor George Gawler, Arthur Gell, erection of houses of prayer in Van Diemen's Land, meetings of the Bible Society, Gell's return to England (1848), Arthur Clough, and the incidence of consumption in Van Diemen's Land. (7 letters)
The letters were written to Gell's father, Rev. Philip Gell, his mother Elizabeth Gell, his sister Caroline Gell, his brother Frederick Gell and an aunt. The subjects include preparations for the voyage to Van Diemen's Land, the voyage of the Runnymede, Gell's arrival in Hobart, his first impressions of the town, Sir John Franklin and Lady Franklin, the establishment of Queen's School, Gell's daily duties as a teacher, his visit to Adelaide in 1841, Governor George Gawler, Arthur Gell, the Antarctic expedition led by Capt. James Ross, Gell's visit to Port Phillip, Sydney and the Illawarra (1842), his hopes of ordination, Rev. William Hutchins, Rev. Henry Fry, the dispute between Governor Franklin and John Montagu, the removal of Indigenous Australians to Flinders Island, and missionaries in Van Diemen's Land. (19 letters)
Precis of papers connected with the New College, 1840-43, comprising an introduction by Gell (11 May 1843) and copies of documents, petitions and letters. The petitions to the Governor about the College were signed by residents of numerous districts in Van Diemen's Land. The correspondents include Gell, Sir John Franklin, Sir John Eardley Wilmot, Lord Stanley (London), George Peacock (London), Thomas Arnold (Rugby) and William Kay (Hobart). At the end of the volume are two printed documents: Petition of parents etc Queen's School to Sir John Eardley Wilmot, 1843 (6pp) and Report of the Queen's School, 1842-43 (7pp)
Letters about the establishment of the School and College, referring to discussions with Sir James Stephen and Lord Stanley at the Colonial Office, the principles on which the College should be based, and the proposals made by Gell. The correspondents are Rev. William Jowett (London), Lady Franklin, Sir John Franklin, Rev. Philip Gell (Dover) and Rev. John N. Simpkinson, the nephew of Lady Franklin.
Copies of correspondence of Archdeacon Fitzherbert Marriott (Hobart) concerning the treatment of convicts in Van Diemen's Land, the discontinuance of the Queen's School and other matters, 1844-45. (102pp) The correspondents include Lord Stanley, Archdeacon W.H. Hale, Rev. Christopher Wordsworth, Edward Wilbraham (Colonial Office), John Watson, George Hope, Frederick Thesiger, J. Dodson and Charles Trevelyan (Treasury). Copies of correspondence of Bishop Francis Nixon (Hobart) concerning Gell's appointment as chaplain at the Goulburn Street chapel, his salary and other matters, 1844-45. (13pp). The correspondents include Gell, Sir John Eardley Wilmot and James P. Bicheno, the Colonial Secretary.
Pamphlet entitled Christ's College 1883 to 1885, 26 Feb. 1906. (26pp)
The documents include John Gell's letters of ordination as a deacon (21 Sept. 1843) and a priest (10 March 1844) and his appointment as Rector of Buxted, Sussex (5 Jan. 1878).
The papers concerning properties in Van Diemen's Land comprise a deed of arrangement between Gell and others and Lady Franklin (29 Oct. 1855), accounts of Lady Franklin with her agent Ronald C. Gunn (Launceston), 1844-55, and correspondence of Rev. John Simpkinson (Northampton), Ronald Gunn (Launceston) and George Rickards (London), 1856-59.
The papers concerning properties in South Australia comprise a conveyance of a farm at Myponga at Port Lincoln from Lady Franklin to Gell (2 Dec. 1867) and correspondence between Gell, Lady Franklin, Henry Gawler (Adelaide) and A.L. Elder (London), 1869-70.
Drawing of the Tasmanian Museum, 16 March 1842, with a copy of the inscription on the foundation stone and a note on the occasion of the laying of the stone.
South Australian News Letter, 12 Dec. 1843, addressed to Miss E. Gell.
Circular concerning the erection of Trinity Church, Hobart, signed by P. Palmer, Joseph Hone, David Lord and John Gell, 22 Dec. 1843. (2pp)
Circular entitled To the Presbyterians of Australia Felix, n.d.
Rev. Philip Gell to Sir John Franklin, 21 May : engagement between his son John Gell and Franklin's daughter Eleanor Franklin. (draft)
Marriage certificate of John Philip Gell and Eleanor Franklin, 10 June 1849.
Obituary notice of John Philip Gell, The Guardian, 23 March 1898, p. 459.
The Leporello Album of Tasmania, n.d., containing 12 views of Hobart, Mount Wellington, Launceston and New Norfolk.
[Francis Hudspeth]. Hutchins School Jubilee: a memory of a first boarder, Hobart, 1896. (12pp)
Originally filmed on AJCP reel M379.
Diary kept by Eleanor Franklin on the Fairlie on the voyage to Van Diemen's Land, including a visit to Cape Town, 26 August 1836 - 24 January 1837 (Item)
The volume also contains entries for the periods 26 Oct.-2 Nov. 1839 and 24 March 1842-19 Feb. 1843, written when Franklin was living at Government house, Hobart.
The letters were written to her aunts Hannah Booth and Elizabeth Franklin and her cousin Catherine Franklin. They refer to the voyage to Van Diemen's Land in 1836-37, social events, visits to the theatre, visitors to Government House, her cousin Sophia Cracroft, her studies, Lady Franklin's overland journey from Port Phillip to Sydney in 1839, mutual friends, her friendship with John Gell 'very agreeable, lively and clever', the establishment of a college in Hobart and a magnetic observatory at Rossbank, visits by Captains James Ross and Francis Crozier, her visit to South Australia in 1841, her father's dispute with the Colonial Secretary John Montagu, and the removal of the Tasmanian Indigenous Australians to Flinders Island. Some of the letters are crossed and of poor legibility.
The letters were written after Franklin had returned to England and refer to news of Gell's son, John Gell, an appeal for funds for Christ'' College, Hobart, and her father's voyage to the Arctic Ocean.
Sir John Franklin (Launceston) to Eleanor Franklin, 1837-42: urges Eleanor to improve her handwriting; Tamar Valley; paintings of John Glover; Franklin's travels in the country; Lady Franklin's headaches. (3 letters)
Lady Franklin (York Town, Wiseman's Ferry, Launceston) to Eleanor Franklin, c. 1839-41: voyage to Port Phillip; visits to Launceston and Longford; picturesque country near Wiseman's Ferry; a carriage accident; meetings with friends; a visit to Port Arthur; purchases; letters. (8 letters, mostly undated)
Mary Richardson to her cousin Eleanor Franklin, 21 June 1843: hopes for a settlement of Sir John Franklin's grievances; Eleanor's engagement to John Gell; Thomas Arnold's opinion of Gell.
Originally filmed on AJCP reel M379M380.
This extremely detailed diary, kept from 16 February-18 April 1845 when he was on leave from his employment in Adelaide, documents Arthur Gell's visit to Van Diemen's Land. It refers to his arrival at the Derwent River, views of Hobart, his meeting with his brother John Gell, John's house, a visit to a school established by Rev. William Dry, a public meeting about taxes, walks to New Town, the Government Domain and Mount Wellington, a meeting of the Legislative Council, visits to St David's Church, Hobart Museum and an orphan school at New Town, dinners and other social encounters with Bishop Francis Nixon, meetings with people considering migration to South Australia, and journeys to Sorell, Richmond, Longford and Launceston. There are references to William Kermode, William Crowther, Rev. Robert Davies, Ronald C. Gunn, Thomas Archer and John Whitefoord.
Arthur Gell (Adelaide) to A.L. Elder, 30 Oct. 1848: Gell's affairs on South Australia on the eve of his departure for New Zealand; property of Sir John and Lady Franklin in South Australia.
Lady Richardson to Elizabeth Gell, 1 Oct. 1849: sends part of letter from Miss Eyre (Bath) concerning a report of the loss of the Calypso on a voyage to New Zealand and the death of Arthur Gell.
Originally filmed on AJCP reels M379-M380.
The letters filmed mostly date from 1800-4 were written to Franklin's parents, brother and sister. They relate to arrangements for Franklin to join the Polyphemus at Yarmouth (1800), preparations for the voyage of HMS Investigator (1801), delays in the departure, Franklin's impressions of Madeira and Cape Town, his training in navigation and astronomy, shortages of provisions, news from home, a survey of the Great Barrier Reef, his return to England (1804), the detention of Capt. Matthew Flinders at Mauritius, the knowledge gained while visiting 'the dreary and uncultivated regions of New Holland', and his loss of clothes and linen in the wreck of the Porpoise. There is also a letter (11 Nov. 1836) from Franklin to his aunt on the voyage of the Fairlie and his arrival at Cape Town, and a copy of a newspaper article on a new museum of the Royal Society of Tasmania and the erection of a statue of Franklin in Franklin Square, Hobart. In addition to the letters of Franklin, there are two letters from Matthew Flinders. (typescript copies)
The letters filmed date from 1836-39 and were written by Franklin in London and Hobart to his sister. They refer to his rejection of an offer of the governorship of Antigua (1836), his arrival in Hobart, news of Jane and Eleanor Franklin and Sophia and Tom Cracroft, preparations for the Queen's Birthday celebrations, Lady Franklin's overland journey to Sydney in 1839, Franklin's annual tour of Van Diemen's Land, and misrepresentations of the colony in the English press. (manuscript copies in the hand of Philip Lyttelton Gell) (5 letters)
The letters refer to preparations for Franklin's departure from England, the voyage of the Fairlie, the stop at Cape Town, arrival at Hobart, the colony 'a prey to dissensions and violent political party feeling', family news, and the death of Henry Booth. (5 letters)
The letters refer to the deferral of a visit, Franklin's satisfaction with his future son-in-law, John Gell's hopes for a college at Hobart, and Franklin's hopes for his Arctic expedition. 2 letters.
The letters were addressed to Lord Minto (the father of Henry Elliot, Franklin's private secretary), Matthew Forster (Hobart) and W. Dallas Bernard (Launceston). 4 letters.
Sir John Richardson (1787-1865) was a Scottish doctor, naturalist and explorer. He sailed with Franklin on his two expeditions in search of the North-West Passage in 1819-22 and 1825-26. His second wife, Mary Booth, was a niece of Franklin.
All the letters were filmed, although only nos. 71-82 (1837-43) relate to Van Diemen's Land. They are lengthy letters referring to many subjects including birds and animals collected by Henry Elliot, Franklin's hopes of establishing a colonial museum, the work of the ornithologist John Gould and the collector Thomas Lempriere, his relations with Alexander Maconochie, meetings of the Legislative Council, the constant press of business, Lady Franklin's journey 'in the steps of Sturt and Mitchell' (1839), the Royal Society's proposal for an expedition to the Southern Ocean, the visit to Hobart of Capt. Dumont D'Urville, the return of Henry Elliot to England, 'a young man of extraordinary merit', Franklin's dismissal and demotion of officials, the visits of Lady Franklin to New Zealand and South Australia, the Antarctic expedition led by Capt. James Ross, the visits of Capt. Ross and Capt. Francis Crozier to Hobart, Lieut. Joseph Kay and the magnetic observatory in Hobart, specimens of the Tasmanian tiger sent to the British Museum, the Hobart Regatta, Franklin's dispute with John Montagu and his relations with the Colonial Office, indignation in the colony at his treatment by Lord Stanley, Stanley's instruction on the management of convicts, Sir John Eardley Wilmot and the Royal Society, and the botanic gardens in Hobart.
The letters were written while Franklin was touring the colony. They refer to his travels, the appointment of magistrates, the capture of escaped convicts, an expedition to the Franklin and Gordon Rivers, an expedition to Recherche Bay, and press reports that Lord Stanley had recalled Franklin. (typescript copies) 5 letters.
Recommends Thomas Macquoid, High Sheriff of New South Wales.
Sends copy of a despatch to Lord Glenelg concerning his suspension of the Colonial Secretary.
News of death of one of Franklin's officers; Anne Flinders at the deathbed of her daughter Henrietta; death of Henry Booth; includes a letter to Eleanor Franklin.
Returns letter of Franklin about Alexander Maconochie.
Introduces Edward Singleton, ensign in the 51st Regiment, leaving for Van Diemen's Land.
Refusal of Gell and others to attend Queen's Birthday levee on account of presence of 'improper persons'; atrocious insinuations against Sir John Eardley Wilmot; attempt by Wilmot to deprive Gell of his salary, impossibility of realising Thomas Arnold's dream of a college in the colony, petition against probation system, Lady Franklin's property in South Australia.
Letter from Sophia Cracroft referring to Franklin's tour of Van Diemen's Land, his enthusiastic reception, and the beauty of the countryside.
Encloses 'key' to a plan of the old Government House at Hobart.
Encloses postcards of Franklin's Monument, Hobart, and Government House, Hobart, erected in 1852.
Originally filmed on AJCP reel M380.
Lady Franklin to her sister-in-law Hannah Booth, 3 June 1836: farewell on departure from England; development of Eleanor Franklin; health of Sir John Franklin.
Sophia Cracroft to Lady Franklin, n.d.: publication of Sir John Franklin's correspondence with Lord Stanley; amendments to pamphlet.
Lieut. Joseph Kay (Hobart) to Lady Franklin, 1 Oct. 1852: funds collected in Van Diemen's Land for an expedition in search of Sir John Franklin; struggle to shake off curse of convictism in the colony; formation of Anti-Convict League; gold discoveries in New South Wales; escalating prices; conflict between the Governor and Legislative Council.
Manuscript copy of an extract from the New Zealand Gazette describing the departure of Lady Franklin from New Zealand, 13 March 1841. H. Willingham Gell. Lady Franklin, Britannia, vol. 4 (7), July 1899, pp. 98-100. Philip Lyttelton Gell. Recollections of Lady Franklin, n.d. (manuscript, 17pp)