Oliver Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Ampthill
GCSI, GCIE, DL, JP
Oliver Russell 2nd Baron Ampthill.jpg
Viceroy of India (acting)
In office
30 April 1904 – 13 December 1904
Preceded by The Lord Curzon of Kedleston
Succeeded by The Lord Curzon of Kedleston
Governor of Madras
In office
15 October 1900 – 30 April 1904
Governor General The Lord Curzon of Kedleston
Succeeded by Sir James Thompson (acting)
In office
13 December 1904 – 15 February 1906
Governor General George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston
Preceded by Sir James Thompson (acting)
Succeeded by Sir Gabriel Stokes (acting)
Personal details
Born (1869-02-19)19 February 1869
Rome, Italy
Died 7 July 1935(1935-07-07) (aged 66)
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Margaret (née Lygon)
Religion Christian

(Arthur) Oliver Villiers Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill, GCSI, GCIE, DL, JP (19 February 1869 – 7 July 1935) was a British peer, rower and administrator who served as the Governor of Madras from October 1900 to February 1906 and acted as the Viceroy of India from April to December 1904.

Oliver Russell was born on 19 February 1869 to Odo Russell, 1st Baron Ampthill, and Lady Emily Russell in Rome and was educated at Eton and Oxford. Oliver Russell succeeded to the barony of Ampthill at the age of 15 on the death of his father.

Russell served as the Assistant Private Secretary to Joseph Chamberlain in 1895 to 1897 and then Private Secretary from 1897 to 1900, when he was appointed Governor of Madras. At the age of 31, Russell became the youngest-ever to be appointed Governor of Madras and served from 1900 to 1906. Russell also served as the Viceroy of India from April to December 1904, when Lord Curzon was re-elected for a second term.

Early life[edit]

Oliver Russell, was born 19 February 1869 in Rome, the eldest son of the 1st Baron Ampthill, and Lady Emily Theresa (née Villiers), Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria and daughter of the 4th Earl of Clarendon.

Russell was educated at Chignell's and Eton and graduated from New College, Oxford, in 1898 with a third-class honours' in modern history. His entry in Vanity Fair magazine noted of him

He is a very tall, very agreeable, and good-looking young man, with a long, strong back, which is worth much in a boat. He is a Freemason and a Liberal Unionist, though he has not yet become famous in the House of Lords. He intends to devote himself to the management of Foreign Affairs. He can shoot. He has many friends who call him "Dick."[1]

Politics[edit]

In 1895, Russell was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, and elevated to Private Secretary in 1897.

That last position never became permanent, as he found himself increasingly allied with Indian nationals both in South and East Africa as well as their native country, and at odds with the British Government. During the First World War, Lord Ampthill commanded a battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment and two of the Bedfordshire Regiment in France.

Governor of Madras[edit]

A portrait by Raja Ravi Varma.

Russell was appointed Governor of Madras on 5 September 1900.[1] At the age of 31, Russell was the youngest-ever to become Governor of Madras. Russell served from 1900 to 1906, his tenure almost contemporaneous with that of George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, as Viceroy of India. As governor, he inaugurated the King Institute in Madras. Russell also inaugurated the Cochin State Forest Tramway on 3 October 1905.[2] On 4 December 1903, he inaugurated the Rangaraya Medical College in Cocanada.

During Russell's tenure, the Oriya Movement for the creation of a separate province of Orissa gathered stream. However, Russell, as governor of Madras, was strongly opposed to the demands for separation of the Oriya-speaking tracts of Vizagapatam and Ganjam districts from Madras.

Viceroy of India[edit]

When Lord Curzon's tenure came to an end in 1904, Russell was chosen to act as the Viceroy of India until the appointment of a new Viceroy. Russell served from April to December 1904 as Viceroy of India. During his tenure, the proponments of a separate province of Orissa submitted a petition to this effect to Russell. However, Russell rejected all demands to create a separate province of Orissa and include areas from Madras Presidency in it.

As Viceroy, Russell was loyal to Curzon and successfully countered the efforts of St John Brodrick, 1st Earl of Midleton, the Secretary of State for India, who wanted to introduce anti-Curzon policies. However, he was unsuccessful against Lord Kitchener, who tightened his stranglehold over the military department.

Later life[edit]

On returning to England in 1906, Russell took up the cause of Indians in South Africa. He chaired an advisory committee on Indian students in the United Kingdom but disagreed with the Secretary of State for India John Morley on the issue of constitutional reforms. In 1909, Russell wrote an introduction to Joseph Doke's book M. K. Gandhi: an Indian Patriot in South Africa.

On 13 July 1909, Lord Ampthill was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire.[3] He then went on to fight in the First World War, during which he was twice mentioned in despatches, and was one of the founders of the National Party in 1917. He retired from the service in 1926 with the rank of colonel. Lord Ampthill was President of the Magic Circle. Russell co-founded the National Party in 1917.

Lord Ampthill died of pneumonia 7 July 1935, a day before Nickalls, prompting the following anonymous epigram among the various tributes in The Times:

Oarsmen they lived, and silver goblets mark
The well-timed prowess of their trusty blades:
In death their rhythm kept, they now embark
To row their long last course among the Shades[2]

Personal life[edit]

On 6 October 1894, Ampthill married Lady Margaret Lygon,[4] the daughter of the 6th Earl Beauchamp in Madresfield, Worcestershire, and they had five children:

  • John Russell, 3rd Baron Ampthill (1896–1973)
  • Adm Hon. Sir Guy Russell (1898–1977)
  • Hon. Phyllis Margaret Russell, OBE (3 June 1900 – c. 24 May 1998)
  • Wg Cdr Hon. Edward Wriothesley Curzon Russell, OBE (2 June 1901 – 1982).
    married Baroness Barbara Korff and had issue
  • Brig Hon. Leopold Oliver Russell, CBE, TD (26 January 1907 – 1988)

He was succeeded in the barony by his eldest son, John Russell.

Rowing[edit]

Caricature of Arthur Russell as OUBC president by Spy in Vanity Fair, 1891

Lord Ampthill started rowing at Eton. His record of rowing was one of the longest of his time at Eton and he first had an oar in the Dreadnought on 1 March 1885, going on to be Captain of the Boats in 1887 and 1888.[3]

Whilst at New College, Oxford Ampthill rowed for Oxford three times against Cambridge in the Boat Race (1889 to 1891), winning twice. He was president of both OUBC[4] and the Oxford Union in 1891.

After Oxford, he rowed for Leander Club for a short while then moved to London Rowing Club, becoming club president in 1893[5], a position he remained in for almost 40 years until his death in 1935.

Ampthill raced in the Ladies' Challenge Plate at Henley Royal Regatta for Eton in 1886, 1887 and 1888. In 1889 he raced both the Grand Challenge Cup and the Silver Goblets, losing in the final of the latter by 2-foot to CUBC in a race which the Henley records for the year describe as "One of the best and closest races ever seen" [6]. In 1890 he again competed in both events, this time racing under New College colours, and collected his first Henley medal, rowing with Guy Nickalls in the Goblets.

In 1891, racing this time as Leander, Lord Ampthill was in the crew which won the Grand Challenge Cup, setting a new course record. He also repeated his Goblets win, again with Guy Nickalls.

Lord Ampthill was elected a Steward of Henley Royal Regatta in 1896, a role he performed until 1900 then again from 1910 until 1927. [7]

Henley wins[edit]

International Olympic Committee[edit]

Between 1894 and 1898, Lord Ampthill was a member of the original International Olympic Committee.

Masonic connections[edit]

Ampthill was initiated into the Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, Oxford, in 1890. He went on to fill the chief office in several lodges, including the Bard of Avon Lodge, No. 778, Hampton Court; The Royal Alpha Lodge, No. 16, London; and the Grand Master's Lodge, No. 1. He was made Provincial Grand Master of Bedfordshire in 1900; was District Grand Master of Madras from 1901 to 1906 and was made Pro Grand Master of England in 1908. [8]

A masonic Lodge under his name " Lodge Ampthill No.3682 E.C." is functioning in coimbatore, India under United Grand Lodge Of England and District Grand Lodge of Madras. Its celebrating its Centenary year in 2014.[5]

Honours[edit]

After his appointment as Governor of Madras, Russell was appointed a Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (GCIE) on 28 December 1900,[6] shortly before his departure for India. He was later appointed a Knight Grand Commander of the Star of India (GCSI) on 2 September 1904.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • ^ Steward, HT (1903). Records of Henley Royal Regatta. 
  • ^ Parker, Eric (1914). Eton in the 'eighties. p. 92. 
  • ^ Ross, Gordon (1957). The Boat Race. 
  • ^ "Spy", Vanity Fair, 21 March 1891 
  • ^ Dodd, Chris (2006). Water Boiling Aft, London Rowing Club the first 150 years. p. 104. 
  • ^ Burnell, Richard (1989). Henley Royal Regatta, a celebration of 150 years. p. 213. 
  • ^ Anonymous (2003). Representative British Freemasons. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-0766135895. 
  • ^ The Times, 17 July 1935: 16d 
  • Kidd, Charles; Williamson, David (1990). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 ed.). New York: St Martin's Press. ISBN 0-333-38847-X. 
  • "thePeerage.com". Retrieved 11 August 2007. 
  • The London Gazette
  • The New York Times, 2 December 1906, p. 1
  • "The rowers of Vanity Fair". Retrieved 1 March 2008. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Arthur Havelock
Governor of Madras
1900–1906
Succeeded by
Sir Gabriel Stokes (acting)
Preceded by
The Lord Curzon of Kedleston
Viceroy of India, acting
1904
Succeeded by
The Lord Curzon of Kedleston
Masonic offices
Preceded by
The Earl Amherst
Pro Grand Master of the
United Grand Lodge of England

1908–1935
Succeeded by
The Earl of Harewood
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Odo Russell
Baron Ampthill
1884–1935
Succeeded by
John Russell