John Ellis (businessman)

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John Ellis M.P.
John Ellis Businessman abolitionist 1840.jpg
at the 1840 Anti-Slavery conference[1]
Born 3 August 1789
Beaumont Leys, Leicester
Died 26 October 1862
Belgrave Hall
Resting place Leicester public cemetery
Residence Belgrave Hall
Occupation Businessman
Known for Railways

John Ellis (1789–1862), of Beaumont Leys and Belgrave Hall in Leicester,[2] was instrumental in interesting George Stephenson in the proposed Leicester and Swannington Railway.


Ellis was born near Leicester in 1789 to Joseph and Rebekah Ellis who were both Quakers and farmers.

Ellis was at the 1840 World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London and he was included in the painting which is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.[1]

He became director of the Midland Counties Railway and, on its amalgamation into the Midland Railway, became its deputy chairman, and later its second chairman, following the resignation of George Hudson in 1849.

In 1845 he eavesdropped on a conversation between two directors of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway, discussing the Great Western Railway's possible acquisition of the line. He took it upon himself to make an offer on behalf of the Midland. The Midland agreed to lease the line (along with the Bristol and Gloucester) and pay off its debts. The Midland thus had control of the lines (though not at that time a through route at Birmingham or Gloucester) from Yorkshire to the South West. In the same year Ellis bought Belgrave Hall in Leicester as his families home from the Vann family.[3]

John Ellis was a Quaker and a noted liberal reformer. He became a Leicester town councillor in 1836 and a Member of Parliament for Leicester between 1848 and 1852. Ellis was survived by his second wife when he died at his home in 1862.[4]


  1. ^ a b The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, accessed April 2009
  2. ^ Ellis of Leicester: A Quaker Family's Vocation
  3. ^ 'Parishes added since 1892: Belgrave', A History of the County of Leicester: volume 4: The City of Leicester (1958), pp. 420–428. URL: Date accessed: 4 July 2014
  4. ^ Miller Christy, ‘Ellis, John (1789–1862)’, rev. Alan R. Griffin, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, September 2012 accessed 23 July 2015

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Joshua Walmsley
Richard Gardner
Member of Parliament for Leicester
With: Richard Harris
Succeeded by
Sir Joshua Walmsley
Richard Gardner