Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell

1753 - 1832

Educationalist. Born in St. Andrews, the son of a local magistrate and wig-maker, Bell studied mathematics and natural philosophy at the University in that town. Bell sailed for America, where he was employed as a tutor in Virginia. He returned to Britain on the outbreak of the American War of Independence. He became a clergyman of the Church of England and, following a period at the Episcopal Chapel in Leith, Bell took up an appointment as the chaplain to the East India Company in Madras (India) in 1787. There he worked at the Madras Male Orphan Asylum which educated soldiers' children and, with a shortage of teachers, he developed the technique of instructing the older boys and getting them to teach those younger than themselves. Following his return to Britain in 1796, Bell described his system of 'mutual instruction' in his publication An Experiment in Education (1797).

Encouraged by Bell, this system of education, which became known as the 'Madras System' was widely adopted by schools in Britain and around the world. By the time of his death, more than 12,000 schools were using his methods and Bell was a wealthy man. He ended his career as a Prebendary in Westminster Abbey, where he lies buried. To ensure that his system continued and developed, Bell left money to found two schools; namely Madras College in St. Andrews and the Bell-Baxter High School (originally Madras Academy) in Cupar.

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