Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pell, William
PELL, WILLIAM (1634–1698), nonconformist divine, son of William Pell, was born at Sheffield in 1634. After passing through the grammar school at Rotherham, Yorkshire, he was admitted as sizar at the age of seventeen on 29 March 1651 at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where his tutor was Joseph Hill [q. v.] He graduated M.A., was elected scholar 2 June 1654 and fellow 3 Nov. 1656, and received orders from Ralph Brownrig [q. v.], bishop of Exeter, probably at Sunning, Berkshire. He held the sequestered rectory of Easington, Durham, and a tutorship in the college at Durham founded by Cromwell by patent dated 15 May 1657. At the Restoration this college collapsed, and Clark, the sequestered rector of Easington, was restored. Pell was appointed to the rectory of Great Stainton, Durham, which he held until ejected in 1662.
After ejection he preached in conventicles, and was imprisoned at Durham for nonconformity. Removed to London by ‘habeas corpus,’ he was discharged by Sir Matthew Hale [q. v.] He then betook himself to the North Riding of Yorkshire, and practised medicine. His friends, who valued him for his breadth of acquirement, and especially for his eminence as an orientalist, repeatedly urged him to resume the work of teaching ‘university learning.’ He considered himself debarred from so doing by the terms of his graduation oath. The project of instituting a ‘northern academy’ fell accordingly into the hands of Richard Frankland [q. v.] After the indulgence of 1672 he ‘preach'd publickly’ at Tattershall, Lincolnshire, and was protected by holding the office of domestic steward to Edward Clinton, fifth earl of Lincoln. A London merchant of the same surname, but no kinsman, became his benefactor. On James's declaration for liberty of conscience (1687), he became pastor to the nonconformists at Boston, Lincolnshire. Thence he removed in 1694 to become the assistant of Richard Gilpin, M.D. [q. v.], at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Here he died on 2 Dec. 1698, having entered his sixty-third year. He was buried on 6 Dec. at St. Nicholas's Church, Newcastle. He married Elizabeth (buried 30 Jan. 1708), daughter of George Lilburn of Sunderland. He published nothing, but left unfinished collections which showed the extent of his oriental and rabbinical studies.
[Calamy's Account, 1713, pp. 288 sq., Continuation, 1727, i. 454; Memoirs of Ambrose Barnes (Surtees Soc.) l. 141; Miall's Congregationalism in Yorkshire, p. 75; extracts from the records of Magdalene College, Cambridge, per A. G. Peskett, esq.; extracts from the burial register of St. Nicholas, Newcastle-on-Tyne, per R. Welford, esq.]