John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford
|Sir John Russell|
|The Earl of Bedford|
John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford, by Hans Holbein the Younger; Royal Collection, Windsor Castle
1st Baron Russell (1539)
1st Earl of Bedford (1550)
|Died||14 March 1554/1555|
John Russell was born ca. 1485 probably at Berwick-by-Swyre, Dorset, the son of James Russell (d. Nov. 1505) and his first wife Alice Wise, daughter of Thomas Wise of Sidenham, near Tavistock, Devon. James's father was possibly William Russell, but more likely his brother John Russell (d. pre November, 1505) by his wife Alice Froxmere, daughter of John Froxmere of Droitwich, Worcs. John was the son of Henry Russell (d. 1463/4), and Elizabeth Herring, daughter of John Herring of Chaldon Herring. Henry, great-grandfather of the 1st Earl, was a substantial wine merchant and shipper, who represented Weymouth in the House of Commons four times. The Russell pedigree can only be traced back with certainty to Henry Russell's father, Stephen Russell, the evidence being contained in a deed of April 1440 in which Henry Russell made over to his daughter Christina and her husband Walter Cheverell of Chauntemarle, a tenement in Dorchester to be held of himself and his heirs upon rent of a red rose. In the deed Henry referred to himself as son and heir of Stephen Russell and of Alice his wife. This Alice appears to have been the heir general of the De la Tour family, which had long owned Berwick-by-Swyre, and by whom therefore the manor was brought into the Russell family. Both Henry and Stephen were referred to as Gascoigne as well as Russell, possibly due to their wine trade with France, as in a 1442 pardon under the Privy Seal referring to Henry Russell of Weymouth, merchant, alias Henry Gascoign, gentleman. It was long believed in the noble Russell family, certainly by the 2nd Earl of Bedford, that the family was descended from the ancient family of Russell of Kingston Russell in Dorset, three miles northeast of Berwick, which descent was declared unproven by Gladys Scott Thomson, FRHist.Soc., in her Two Centuries of Family History, London, 1930, an exhaustive and scholarly work on the early pedigree of the Earls of Bedford. (For a disambiguation of the Bedford Russells and the Russells of Kingston Russell, see Kingston Russell)
In 1506 John Russell was of service to Archduke Philip of Austria and Juana his wife (King and Queen of Castile) when they were shipwrecked off Weymouth, and escorted the royal couple to the royal court in London. He was one of the most accomplished gentlemen of his time and so impressed them by his gracious manners that they praised him highly to King Henry VII. He became a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Henry VII in 1507 and to his son and successor Henry VIII in 1509, who employed him in various military and diplomatic missions during the War of the League of Cambrai. He was at the taking of Thérouanne and Tournai. He was knighted on 2 July 1522 after losing an eye at the taking of Morlaix in Brittany, and he witnessed the Battle of Pavia.
Following his marriage in the Spring of 1526 he made alterations to his ancestral seat Chenies Manor House to reflect his new good fortunes. He now stood in favour with the King and Cardinal Wolsey, though he would not suffer disgrace at the fall of the latter.
He was made High Sheriff of Dorset and Somerset in 1528 and served as Member of Parliament for Buckinghamshire 1529–1536, retaining the royal favour despite the antipathy of Anne Boleyn. Late in 1536, he was made a Privy Counsellor, and helped to suppress the Pilgrimage of Grace.
The fall and execution of Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter left a power vacuum in the south-western counties of England, which Russell was called upon to fill. On 9 March 1538/1539 he was created Baron Russell, and appointed Lord President of the Council of the West. In the next month, he was made a Knight of the Garter. In July 1539 he was made High Steward of Cornwall, and Lord Warden of the Stannaries.
The Council of the West proved unsuccessful as an instrument of government, and did not survive the fall of Cromwell. Russell, however, remained a great magnate in the western counties, and obtained the office of Lord High Admiral in 1540. (The previous holder, the Earl of Southampton, replaced Cromwell as Lord Privy Seal.) After Henry VIII met Anne of Cleves at Rochester, the next day he asked Russell if he "thought her fair". Russell replied with his natural diplomacy and prudence that he took her "not to be fair, but of a brown complexion". In 1542, Russell himself resigned the Admiralty and succeeded to the Privy Seal on the death of Southampton. He was High Steward of the University of Oxford from 1543 till his death.
During the Italian War of 1542, he unsuccessfully besieged Montreuil in 1544, and was Captain General of the Vanguard of the army for the attack on Boulogne in 1545. He was a close companion of King Henry VIII during the last years of his reign. On Henry's death, he was one of the executors of the King's will, and one of sixteen counsellors during the minority of his son King Edward VI.
On 16 June 1553 he was one of the twenty-six peers who signed the settlement of the crown on Lady Jane Grey. He was sent to attend King Philip II into England on his arrival from Spain to wed the Queen Mary.
He was Lord High Steward at the Coronation of King Edward VI (1547-1553) on 20 February 1547. He was created by that young king, in practice by his regent, Earl of Bedford on 19 January 1549/1550 for his assistance in carrying out the order of the Council against "images" and for promoting the new religion. In 1552, he was made Lord Lieutenant of Devon.
Marriage & progeny
In the spring of 1526 he married Anne Sapcote (alias Shapcote), daughter of Sir Guy Sapcote of Huntingdonshire by his wife Margaret Wolston. She had been twice widowed. Her first husband was John Broughton (d. 24 January 1518) of Toddington, Bedfordshire, by whom she had a son and three daughters:
- John Broughton (d.1528).
- Katherine Broughton (d. 23 April 1535), who was the ward firstly of Cardinal Wolsey, and secondly Agnes, Duchess of Norfolk, who married Katherine, as his first wife, to her eldest son, William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham.
- Anne Broughton (d. 16 May 1562), who married, as his second wife, by dispensation dated 24 May 1539, Sir Thomas Cheyney, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. There is a monument to her at Toddington.
- Daughter whose name is unknown, and who died between July 1517 and 1529.
Anne Sapcote's second husband was Sir Richard Jerningham (d.1525), by whom she had no issue.
As indicated by the armorials painted on the monument of Russell's granddaughter, Elizabeth Bourchier, Countess of Bath, at Tawstock in Devon, (Sable, three dovecotes argent) Anne Sapcote was from the family usually known as Shapcote, which originated on the estate of Shapcote in the manor of Knowstone, North Devon. On 25 May 1500 Sir John Shapcot, Knight, as patron by proxy of Tawstock Church, appointed as rector Thomas Bourchier. They had only one child, a son and heir:
- Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford (1527-1585)
Death & burial
He died on 14 March 1554/5 and was buried at his ancestral manor of Chenies, Buckinghamshire, in the private Bedford Chapel of the parish church next to Chenies Manor House, his former chief residence. The Dukes of Bedford continue to be buried in this chapel.
His widow, Anne, died on 14 March 1559 and was buried at Chenies 21 March 1559.
Russell is the ancestor of all subsequent Earls and Dukes of Bedford and Earls Russell, including John Russell, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the philosopher Bertrand Russell. Russell is also an 11th great grandfather of Winston Churchill.
On the Dissolution of the Monasteries King Henry VIII granted him lands and properties including Tavistock Abbey and Plympton Abbey in Devon, the wealthiest two abbeys in Devon, and the Cistercian Dunkeswell Abbey also in Devon. He was granted the Blackfriars in Exeter, on the site of which he built his opulent townhouse known as Bedford House, from where he conducted his duties as Lord Lieutenant of Devon. These grants made him the largest landowner in Devon. In Bedfordshire he acquired the site of Woburn Abbey which he made his chief seat. In London he was granted seven acres (28,000 m²) called "Long Acre", and the kitchen garden of Westminster Abbey, which is now the site of Covent Garden. The family retain still in 2013 several acres of prime London property comprising the Bedford Estate centred on Bedford Square and Tavistock Square.
Garter stall plate
John Russell's Garter stall plate survives affixed to the back of his stall in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. The shield shows quarterly of four: 1st grand quarter: quarterly 1st & 4th: Argent, a lion rampant gules on a chief sable three escallops of the first (Russell); 2nd & 3rd: Azure, a tower argent (de la Tour); 2nd Gules, three herrings hauriant argent (Herringham); 3rd Sable, a griffin segreant between three crosses crosslet fitchy argent (Froxmere); 4th: Sable, three chevronnels ermine in dexter chief a crescent or for difference (Wyse). Crest: A goat passant argent; Supporters: Dexter: A goat argent, Sinister: A lion rampant gules Motto: Plus que Jamais ("More than Never"). Inscription in French: Du tres noble et puisant Seigneur Johan Conte de Bedford Baron Russell Chevalier du tres noble Ordre de la Jarretiere et Garduen du Prive Seau, fust enstalle a Wyndsor le XVIII jure de Maye l'an du Roy Henry VIII de son reigne XXXI l'an 1539 ("Of the very noble and powerful Lord John, Earl of Bedford, Baron Russell, Knight of the Very Noble Order of the Garter and Keeper of the Privy Seal was installed at Windsor the 18th day of May the year of King Henry VIII of his reign the 31st, the year 1539").
- Scott Thomson, 1930, p. 98
- http://www.middlesex-heraldry.org.uk "Heraldry of the Bedford Chapel, Chenies, Bucks"
- Alzina Stone Dale & Barbara Sloan-Hendershott (2004). Mystery Reader's Walking Guide: London. iUniverse. p. 56. ISBN 0-595-31513-5. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
- James died in Nov. 1505, shortly after his father John, both in 1505, according to Scott Thomson, p. 108; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 48, p. 278, gives James's date of death as between Dec. 1505 and Feb. 1506
- Scott Thomson, 1930, pp. 110–111
- Scott Thomson, 1930, pp. 102–3
- Scott Thomson, 1930, p. 36
- Municipal Records of the Borough of Dorchester, ed. C. H. Mayo, Exeter: W. Pollard, 1908; no. 517.
- Scott Thomson, 1930, p. 37
- Scott Thomson, 1930, p. 39
- Classic Encyclopedia, based on 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica (11th. ed) "Russell (Family)"; Scott Thomson, p. 58
- Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.132
- Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memorials, vol. 1 part 2, Oxford, 1822 p. 455, deposition of Russell.
- The monument incorporates two quasi Trees of Jesse in the form of vine stems, the one on the left showing the ancestry of Bourchier, and that on the right the ancestry of Russell
- These arms of Shapcott are visible in Devon in the following locations: Knowstone Church, Molland Church, Shute Church (east window), Bampton Church
- Copinger 1910, pp. 156, 319.
- Katherine Broughton (c.1514-April 23, 1535), A Who’s Who of Tudor Women: Brooke-Bu, compiled by Kathy Lynn Emerson to update and correct Wives and Daughters: The Women of Sixteenth-Century England (1984) Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Richardson II 2011, p. 417.
- Lysons 1792, pp. 278-9.
- Harris 2002, pp. 108-9.
- Pollard 1901, p. 423.
- Nichols 1848, pp. 282, 370.
- Nichols gives the date of her death as 16 May on p. 282, and as 18 May on p. 370.
- Blaydes 1884, p. 14.
- Cheyne, Sir Thomas (1482/87-1558), of the Blackfriars, London and Shurland, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, History of Parliament Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Pollard 1901, p. 422.
- Nicolas 1826, p. 557.
- MacMahon 2004.
- List of rectors displayed in Tawstock Church
- Willen 2004.
- http://www.middlesex-heraldry.org.uk "Heraldry of the Bedford Chapel, Chenies, Bucks".
- Modern crest statant (Debretts, 1968, p.131)
- Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.131, with supporters on exchanged sides
- Blaydes, Frederic August (1884). The Visitations of Bedfordshire XIX. London: Harleian Society. p. 14. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Copinger, W.A. (1910). The Manors of Suffolk 6. Manchester: Taylor, Garnett, Evans and Co. Ltd. pp. 156, 319. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Harris, Barbara J. (2002). English Aristocratic Women 1450-1550. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 108–9. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Lysons, Daniel (1792). The Environs of London I. London: A. Strahan. pp. 278–9. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- MacMahon, Luke (2004). Jerningham, Sir Richard (d. 1525). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 31 May 2013. (subscription required)
- Nicolas, Nicholas Harris (1826). Testamenta Vetusta II. London: Nichols and Son. p. 557. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Nichols, John Gough, ed. (1848). The Diary of Henry Machyn. London: Camden Society. pp. 191, 282–284, 368–72, 390. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Pollard, Albert Frederick (1901). Cheyne, Thomas. Dictionary of National Biography. 1901 supplement. pp. 421–3. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham II (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. p. 417. ISBN 1449966381
- Willen, Diane (2004). Russell, John, first earl of Bedford (c.1485–1555). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 31 May 2013. (subscription required)
- D. Willen, John Russell, First Earl of Bedford, One of the King's Men, London: Royal Historical Society, 1981.
- Wiffen, J. H., Historical Memoirs of the House of Russell from the Time of the Norman Conquest, 2 vols., Vol.1, London, 1833. Fatally flawed in its erroneous linkage of the Russell Earls of Bedford with the "baronial" Russells of Kingston Russell.
- Round, J. Horace, Studies in Peerage & Family History, Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, 1901, vol. 2, pp. 250–279, "The Origin of the Russells". A severe and detailed critique of the work of Wiffen.
- Gladys Scott Thomson, Two Centuries of Family History, London: Longmans Green and Co., 1930. (Includes an early pedigree of the Earls of Bedford, and builds on J. Horace Round's critique of Wiffen)
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 48, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 278 et seq.
- Will of Lady Anne, Countess of Bedford, proved 21 March 1559, PROB 11/42A/512, National Archives Retrieved 30 May 2013
- John Russell at Tudor Place
|Lord High Admiral
|Lord Privy Seal
Sir William Paulet
|Comptroller of the Household
Sir William Kingston
|Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall
The Earl of Bath
|Lord Lieutenant of Devon and Dorset
|Lord Lieutenant of Somerset
The Marquess of Exeter
|Lord Warden of the Stannaries
The Earl of Bedford
|Peerage of England|
|New title||Earl of Bedford
(descended by acceleration)