1902 Encyclopedia > Dr Andrew Bell

Dr Andrew Bell
Scottish Anglican priest and educationalist
(1753-1852)




DR ANDREW BELL, a clergyman of the Church of England well known for his philanthropic efforts in the cause of education, and more particularly for his success in extending the monitorial system of instruction in schools, was bom at St Andrews in 1753. He graduated at the university of that town, and afterwards spent some years in America. In 1789 he was chaplain at Fort St George, and minister of St Mary's church, Madras. While in this position he occupied himself with instructing the orphan children of the military asylum, and having been obliged from scarcity of teachers to introduce the system of mutual tuition by the pupils, found the scheme answer so well that he became convinced of its universal applicability. In 1797, after his return to London, he published a small pamphlet explaining his views. No public attention was drawn towards the plan till the following year, when Mr Joseph Lancaster, a dissenter, opened a school in South-ward, conducting it in strict accordance with Bell's prin-ciples. The success of the method, and the strong support given to Lancaster by the whole body of dissenters, gave immense impetus to the movement. Similar schools were established in great numbers; and the members of the Church of England, becoming alarmed at the patronage of these schools resting entirely in the hands of dissenters, resolved to set up similar institutions in which church principles should be inculcated. In 1807 Dr Bell was called upon to organize a system of schools in accordance with these views. For his valuable services he was in some degree recompensed by his perferment to a prebend of Westminster, and to the mastership of Sherborn Hospital, Durham. He died in 1832 at Cheltenham, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His great fortune was bequeathed almost entirely for educational purposes. Of the £120,000 given in trust to the provost of St Andrews, two city ministers, and the professor of Greek in the university, half was devoted to the founding of the important school, called the Madras College, at St Andrews; £10,000 was left to each of the large cities, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leith, Inverness, and Aberdeen, for school purposes ; and £10,000 was also given to the Roval Naval School. (See Southey's Life of Dr Bell.)







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