James Shell (1796-1863)
Jane Hussey and Alan Payne
The story of the Shell family at Kingsdown brought a glimpse of the past to the London owner of a brass dog collar, pictured. Through Jane Hussey’s article he discovered more about our Box history and that James Shell was born about 1796 and baptised at Box Church on 28 February 1796.
James' parents were James and Lucy Shell (nee Shewring) who married at Corsham on 4 November 1779. The 1801 census shows that James senior was born about 1759 and Lucy a year earlier. They had at least eight children with James junior in the middle of the age range.
Editor: I remembered that something important happened in 1796, the same year that James Shell was born but I couldn’t find it until the evening news was on television. 1796 was the year that Edward Jenner gave the first smallpox inoculation in Gloucestershire to the eight-year-old son of his domestic gardener. Jenner took the puss from the hands of a milkmaid and injected that into the boy. He didn’t invent the procedure but it was Jenner’s work to test its efficacy that was important when he later exposed the poor boy to full-scale smallpox It is a curious flashback to the needs of our time with vaccine discovery and testing which are being played out with coronavirus some two centuries after Jenner.