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Reader Feedback – Russell Name Meaning

As a Russell I enjoy browsing through your webpage that
is full of interesting information on Russell history and its link
Kingston Russell in Dorset.

I was also most interested to read in your web page that the name Russell
from the Old French rousel for
“red.’  I have also read
various texts that claim its origin from Rufus, Rushall, or Hrod.
Another one
says that the first Russell on record was William Russel, named in the
Priory Register as the son of a Ralph de Rosel from Dorset whose
name is
in the Winton Domesday Book.

It looks
like the name Russell could have more than one origin, although the
from Dorset one seems to have the advantage of official documents to
back it

Russell (


Russells of Kingston Russell


John Russel was
the royal manor of Kingston Russell near Weymouth in Devon

for his services to the King.  He had
under King John been Governor of Corfe Castle and was recorded as
follows in
the 1211 Book of Fees:
“John Russel
holds Kingston for half a hide of land from the Lord King from the time
William the Bastard sometime King of England through the serjeanty of
marshal of the king’s buttery (i.e. storer of wine barrels) at
Christmas and at

The serjeanty changed during
the minority of King Henry III to the counting of the King’s chessman
storing them away after a game.

After Sir John’s death in 1224 there followed
Ralph, Sir William, Theobald, Ralph, Maurice, and Thomas.
Thomas died in 1431 and Kingston Russell
passed to his sisters who had married and therefore the manor was
from the Russell family name.

William was Constable of Carisbrook castle on the Isle of Wight. He
there Katherine de Aula, heiress of the Yaverland estate which Russell
descendants held.  The Kingston Russell
line continued with his son Theobald.  It
was long thought that this Theobald had a son named William who was an
of the Russell Dukes of Bedford.  But no
such son existed.

Chenies Manor

Chenies Manor House in Buckinghamshire had been
owned by the Cheyne family who were granted manorial rights there in
1180.  Sir John Cheyne built the current
around 1460.  But by 1526 it had been
acquired by John Russell who became the 1st Earl of Bedford.  

The manor house was extended
into a palace prior to Henry VIII’s first visit there in 1534. 
John Russell had risen to the lofty
heights of an Earldom under Henry VIII, despite lacking aristocratic
antecedents.  Unlike Thomas Cromwell, he
was able to hang on to both his head and his title and, as a
consequence, his
descendants became Dukes of Bedford in their turn.

Bedford chapel at Chenies holds monuments
starting with John and his wife Anne Sapcote and continuing until
Francis, the
10th Duke and his wife Adeline Marie.
The manor house remained in the possession of the Russells until



The Russells of New Bedford

was Joseph Russell, a
prosperous Quaker farmer from Dartmouth, who had acquired land along
river and first settled in the early 1700’s in what
became the
town of New Bedford.   He in fact
suggested t
he name of New Bedford as the Dukes of Bedford in
also bore the name of Russell.

His elder
son Caleb farmed, his younger son Joseph was one of the first merchants
of New
Bedford and many consider him the founder of the New Bedford whaling
industry.  Under Joseph’s leadership the
inhabitants of Bedford village became whalers and shipbuilders.  He lived a long life and died in New Bedford
at the age of 85 in 1804.


John Russel of
Elgin and His Descendants

1805 John Russel, an Elgin merchant who
consistently spelled his name with only one ‘l,’ rode to the new tweed
mills in
Galashiels.  After concluding his
business there he spent a few days with a wheelwright Thomas Russell in
Peebles, where he fell in love with his daughter Janet and asked for
her hand.

marrying John Russel, Janet joined a Moray
family which had farmed at Alves for several generations.
There were legendary links with the Royalist
Alexander Russell of the Civil War who was said to have fled to Elgin
Marston Moor.  More prosaically, they
were a branch of the Elgin Russells who had acquired Blackhall in

and Janet’s son Alexander (he preferred
two ‘l’s) became proprietor of the Elgin
, following his father’s purchase of the Courier plant in
1834.  He bought new premises for the paper
on the
High Street in 1840 and was to be its editor for thirty five years.

Willsher’s 2005 book A Scottish Family: The Story of Eight
covered these and six more generations of this family


Russell Merchants in

1760, when Limerick was proclaimed an open city,
the Russells had established themselves as prominent merchants there.  William Russell was recorded as a merchant on
Main Street in the 1769 Limerick directory.
His vault is to be found at Limerick’s St. John’s Church of

Russell’s vault was marked as follows:

“Here are interred the rewards of Philip Russell.
He was born on the 6th of March 1750 and
died on 24th of June 1832.  In this tomb
also rest the remains of his wife Susan and his sons Francis Philip
Henry Ivers
and Whitecat Keane Russell.”

had signed the pro-Union petition circulated
in Limerick after the Irish Rebellion of 1798, as had John Norris

first cousin John Norris Russell founded
the firm of J.N. Russell and Sons in Limerick.  He
started out as a corn merchant and later became
a shipowner and an industrialist.  He
built the Newtown Pery Mills on Russell’s Quay and the Newtown Pery
adjacent to it on Henry Street.   He was described as “the most enterprising
merchant Limerick ever saw.”  He died in


Russell, The Irishman who Conquered the Pyrenees

Russell’s love of physical contact with the
mountains led to his introduction of sleeping bags into the annals of
mountaineering.  His first sleeping bag
was made of six sheepskins. Next he introduced shelters for climbers.  Wanting only natural items around him, he had
local artisans build rock caves with iron doors on his beloved
Vignemale in the

entertained there not only
other climbers, but friends from high society.
Scientists, botanists, explorers and politicians overnighted in
well appointed caves.  He ordered in a
large supply of food and wine, plus liquors and cigars.
They often would have an evening round of hot
wine, then climb about a half hour to the summit to see the sun set.

version of ecstasy was to spend the night
buried in the top of his mountain with only his head exposed so he
could, as he
explained, “feel” and “be” the mountain.

last cave, called the Grotte du Paradis, was built in 1893
just 18 meters below the summit. He began to spend more and more time
living as a hermit.  Russell made his
last ascent and sleepover at his beloved mountain in 1904.
He spent his last five years writing books
about his travels and died in 1909


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