Birthplace: St. Andrew's, Fife, Scotland
Location of death: Cheltenham, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Executive summary: Madras system of education
British divine and educator, was born at St. Andrew's on the 27th of March 1753. He graduated at the university there, and afterwards spent some years as a tutor in Virginia, in America. On his return he took orders, and in 1787 sailed for India, where he held eight army chaplaincies at the same time. In 1789 he became superintendent of the male orphan asylum at Madras, 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 on education. Little public attention was drawn towards the "monitorial" plan until Joseph Lancaster, the Quaker, opened a school in Southwark, conducting it in accordance with Bell's principles, and improving on his system. The success of the method, and the strong support given to Lancaster by the whole body of Nonconformists 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 such schools resting entirely in the hands of dissenters, resolved to set up similar institutions in which their own principles should be inculcated. In 1807 Bell was called from his rectory of Swanage in Dorset to organize a system of schools in accordance with these views, and in 1811 became superintendent of the newly formed "National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church." For his valuable services he was in some degree recompensed by his preferment to a prebend of Westminster, and to the mastership of Sherburn hospital, Durham. He tried, but without success, to plant his system in Scotland and on the continent. He died on the 27th of January 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. Andrew's, 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. Andrew's; £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 Royal Naval School.
University: University of St. Andrews
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