Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford
|Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford|
Admiral Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford by Thomas Gibson, painted c. 1715
|Died||26 November 1727 (aged 73–74)
Covent Garden, London
|Buried at||St Michael’s Church, Chenies|
|Allegiance|| Kingdom of England
Kingdom of Great Britain
|Service/branch|| Royal Navy (1664–1707)
Royal Navy (1707–1717)
|Years of service||1666–1717|
|Rank||Admiral of the Fleet|
|Commands held||HMS Phoenix
|Other work||MP for Launceston, for Portsmouth and for Cambridgeshire|
Admiral of the Fleet Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford, PC (1653 – 26 November 1727) was a Royal Navy officer. After serving as a junior officer at the Battle of Solebay during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, he served as a captain in the Mediterranean in operations against the Barbary pirates.
Russell was one of the Immortal Seven, a group of English noblemen who issued the Invitation to William, a document asking Prince William of Orange to depose King James II. Based in the Netherlands, he served as Prince William’s secretary during the planning of William’s invasion of England and subsequent Glorious Revolution. He was fully engaged in providing naval support for the Williamite War in Ireland until the war ended and was Commander-in-Chief of the Anglo-Dutch force that fought the French fleet at Battle of Barfleur and destroyed much of it in a night attack at the Battle of La Hogue during Nine Years' War.
Russell went on to be First Lord of the Admiralty during the reign of William III and then held the office twice again in the reign of King George I. He was also MP for Launceston, for Portsmouth and then for Cambridgeshire.
Born the son of the Hon. Edward Russell, a younger son of the 4th Earl of Bedford and Penelope Russell (née Hill), Russell briefly attended St John's College, Cambridge and joined the Royal Navy in 1666. Promoted to lieutenant in 1671, he was appointed to the fourth-rate HMS Advice and then transferred to the third-rate HMS Rupert and saw action, when a combined British and French fleet was surprised and attacked by the Dutch, led by Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, at the Battle of Solebay off the Suffolk coast in May 1672, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War.
Promoted to captain on 10 June 1672, Russell was given command of the fifth-rate HMS Phoenix and then transferred to the command of the fourth-rate HMS Reserve in the Mediterranean, in operations against the Barbary pirates in February 1675, then to the command of the third-rate HMS Defiance in December 1677. He then move to the third-rate HMS Swiftsure in March 1678 and then to the fourth-rate HMS Newcastle in August 1680. In 1683 he ceased to be employed, as all of the members of the Russell family had fallen into disfavour with the King, after the discovery of Lord Russell's connection with the Rye House Plot.
Russell was one of the Immortal Seven, a group of English noblemen who issued the Invitation to William, a document asking Prince William of Orange to depose King James II in June 1688. Based in the Netherlands, he served as Prince William’s secretary during the planning of William’s invasion of England and subsequent Glorious Revolution in November 1688.
Russell was elected Whig Member of Parliament for Launceston and appointed Treasurer of the Navy in 1689. Promoted directly to full admiral in May 1689, Russell took command in the Channel, with his flag in the second-rate HMS Duke, in 1689 and enforced a blockade of France. Russell lived at Chippenham Park in Cambridgeshire from 1689 until his death. He re-modelled the manor house and greatly extended Chippenham Park, which still dominates the parish to the south of the village.
Russell was elected Member of Parliament for Portsmouth in the general election in March 1690. He conveyed Maria Anna of Neuburg, Charles II of Spain's future consort, from Flushing to Coruna in Spring 1690. He became a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty on the Admiralty board led by the Earl of Pembroke in June 1690. Following the debacle at the Battle of Beachy Head in July 1690, Admiral the Earl of Torrinton fell out of favour and Russell, having been promoted to Admiral of the Fleet, became Commander-in-Chief of the Navy in December 1690. He was fully engaged in providing naval support for the Williamite War in Ireland until the war ended in October 1691.
In Autumn 1690, Russell blamed the Dutch for the failure of the allies to enforce the blockade of France and was forced to stand down as a Lord Commissioner in January 1691. Flying his flag in the first-rate HMS Britannia, he was Commander-in-Chief of the Anglo-Dutch force that fought the French fleet at Battle of Barfleur in May 1692, during Nine Years' War. At about 10am the French Admiral Comte de Tourville, with his flag in the French ship Soleil Royal, attacked Russell's flagship but around 1pm, Tourville was forced to disengage with extensive damage to his rigging and sails. Russell then destroyed much of the French fleet, in a night attack at the Battle of La Hogue in June 1692.
Following a disagreement with the Earl of Nottingham, Russell resigned as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy in December 1692. Admirals Henry Killigrew, Ralph Delaval and Cloudesley Shovell were put in joint command of the fleet in January 1693. Following the disastrous attack on the Smyrna merchantmen at the Battle of Lagos in June 1693, all three admirals were dismissed from their joint command and Russell resumed command of the fleet in November 1693.
Russell became First Lord of the Admiralty in the First Whig Junto in May 1694 and took a fleet out into the Mediterranean in June 1694, becoming the first English naval commander to spend the Winter at Cádiz (rather than sailing his squadron home in the autumn). He was elected Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire in 1695 and was created Baron Shingay, Viscount Barfleur and Earl of Orford on 7 May 1697. He faced allegations of having misappropriated funds from the maintenance of the fleet, to spend on his private estates in 1698. The accusations went no further and he left office as First Lord and as Treasurer of the Navy, when the First Whig Junto fell from power in May 1699. He commissioned the building of Orford House at Ugley in Essex in 1700.
Russell returned to office as First Lord in the coalition Godolphin-Marlborough Ministry in November 1709 but left his post when the Tory-dominated Harley Ministry came to power in October 1710. He was appointed for a third time as First Lord in the Whig Townshend Ministry in October 1714 and having been appointed Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire on 27 September 1715, left his post again when that ministry left office in April 1717. He died at Covent Garden in London on 26 November 1727 and was buried in the Russell vault at St Michael’s Church in Chenies.
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