Andrew Bell

In the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey is a white marble monument to Dr Andrew Bell. This is by the sculptor William Behnes and shows a relief of a seated man with a group of schoolboys. The inscription above this reads:

Sacred to the memory of Andrew Bell D.D. L.L.D. Prebendary of this Collegiate Church: the eminent founder of the Madras System of education, who discovered and reduced to successful practice the plan of mutual instruction; founded upon the multiplication of power, and the division of labour, in the moral and intellectual world, which has been adopted within the British Empire as the national system of education of the children of the poor. In the principles of the Established Church Dr Bell was born in the city of St Andrew's N.B.27th of March 1753. Appointed minister of St Mary's church Madras 1789, Master of Sherburn Hospital 1809, Prebendary of Westminster 1810. Died 27th of January 1832.

The date of his appointment to Westminster was actually 1819. NB stands for North Britain, meaning Scotland. Andrew was a son of Alexander and Margaret Bell and was educated at St Andrew's university.

Andrew Bell: life and monument

He became private tutor to the sons of a tobacco planter in Virginia. On his way back to England in 1781 he was shipwrecked but was rescued by a whaling ship. He was ordained and left for India in 1787 where he was chaplain to various regiments. In Madras he developed his famous system of teaching. His method was later adopted when the National Society for the Education of the Poor was founded in 1811. In Scotland he married Agnes Barclay but they later separated. For a short while he held a stall at Hereford Cathedral before becoming a Canon of Westminster. He was buried in the nave of the Abbey and the monument was erected in 1838.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


27th March 1753


27th January 1832




Nave; South Choir Aisle

Memorial Type


Material Type


Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster