1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gell, Sir William
GELL, SIR WILLIAM (1777–1836), English classical archaeologist, was born at Hopton in Derbyshire. He was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, and subsequently elected a fellow of Emmanuel College (B.A. 1798, M.A. 1804). About 1800 he was sent on a diplomatic mission to the Ionian islands, and on his return in 1803 he was knighted. He went with Princess (afterwards Queen) Caroline to Italy in 1814 as one of her chamberlains, and gave evidence in her favour at the trial in 1820 (see G. P. Clerici, A Queen of Indiscretions, Eng. trans., London, 1907). He died at Naples on the 4th of February 1836. His numerous drawings of classical ruins and localities, executed with great detail and exactness, are preserved in the British Museum. Gell was a thorough dilettante, fond of society and possessed of little real scholarship. None the less his topographical works became recognized text-books at a time when Greece and even Italy were but superficially known to English travellers. He was a fellow of the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries, and a member of the Institute of France and the Berlin Academy.
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