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John Pell

Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Southwick, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Death: December 12, 1685 (74)
Westminister, London, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev John Pell, Sr. and Mary Pell
Husband of Ithamaria Reginald Pell
Father of John Pell and John Pell
Brother of Thomas Pell and Bathsua Makin Pell

Managed by: Private User
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About John Pell

Rt. Rev. Hon. John Pell (born 1 March 1611 and died 12 December 1685) was an English mathematician and linguist.

Parents: John Pell (1553-1617 of Norfolk, England), who was the Vicar of Southwick, who died when John Pell was five, and Mary Holland, who died a year later.

  1. Married: on 3 July 1632, to Ithamaria Reginald, sister of Bathsua Makin


  1. John, born born February 3, 1643, in London, England, died at Pelham Manor, Province of New York, in 1702. Married in 1684 to Rachel, daughter of Philip Pinckney, of Eastchester. Inherited the Westchester property, known as Pelham Manor, from his uncle Thomas Pell, who had died without issue, and came to America, arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, in October, 1670, with letters to governor Winthrop, which established his heirship.
  2. Mary, born April 14, 1634, married, 1656, Captain Ravee
  3. Elizabeth, born 1639, married, 1664, John Edwards
  4. Bathsheba, married --------- Wessels
  5. Judith, married, 1657, Thomas Kirk

Biographical Summary


Persona grata with both Charles I and Charles II, he was sent by Oliver Cromwell as Minister to Switzerland. He returned to England to live, just before the death of Cromwell.

In 1661 he was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of London and subsequently given the living of the Rectory of Fobbing in Essex. (See Pelliana, Vol. I, No. 2, issue 1935, pps. 11-45 for his biography.) Dr. John Pell for a while appeared to prosper. However, in the political turmoil that followed his lucky star descended rapidly, so much so that when he died, in 1685, he was in actual want.

About the Radical Sign

RADICAL SIGN appears in English in 1669 in An Introduction to Algebra edited in 1668 by John Pell (1611-1685):

In the quotient subjoyn the surd part with its first radical Sign.

For more information about the math symbols used by Dr. Pell, see:

And for what he's most known for to mathematicians, The Pell number and Pell's equation are linked.

About His Portrait


Family notes

In 1670, the mathematician's son, Sir John Pell, inherited lands in New York, where he lived as the first Lord of the Manor of Pelham. (Pelham Manor, Pelham, Pelham Bay and the surrounding areas in what is now known as the North East Bronx and Southern Westchester county.)

John Pell's descendants have continued to be prominent in the American polity, including Ambassador and U.S. Representative Herbert Pell and U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell.


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John Pell's Timeline

March 1, 1611
Southwick, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom
February 3, 1643
Age 31
Southwick, Sussex, England
Age 43
London, England
December 12, 1685
Age 74
London, United Kingdom