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John Ellis (1789–1862), of Beaumont Leysmarker in Leicestermarker, was instrumental in interesting George Stephenson in the proposed Leicester and Swannington Railway.

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.

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 Yorkshiremarker to the South West.

John Ellis was a Quaker and a noted liberal reformer. He became a Leicestermarker town councillor in 1836 and a Member of Parliament for Leicester between 1848 and 1852.


  1. The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, accessed April 2009
  • Billson, P., (1996) Derby and the Midland Railway, Derby: Breedon Books. ISBN 1859830218.

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