John Russell, 4th Earl Russell

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For other people named John Russell, see John Russell (disambiguation).

John Conrad Russell, 4th Earl Russell (16 November 1921 – 16 December 1987) was the eldest son of the philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell (the 3rd Earl) and his second wife, Dora Black. His middle name was a tribute to the writer Joseph Conrad, whom his father had long admired.[1] He was the great-grandson of the 19th century British Whig Prime Minister Lord John Russell. He succeeded to the earldom on the death of his father on 2 February 1970.

Married on 28 August 1946 to Susan Doniphan Lindsay, daughter of the poet Vachel Lindsay, they had three daughters, Lady Felicity Anne Russell, born September 2, 1945, Lady Sarah Elizabeth Russell, born on 16 January 1946, and Lady Lucy Catherine Russell (21 July 1948 – 11 April 1975), neither of whom married or bore children.[citation needed]. Like their father and mother, both Susan and Lucy suffered from serious mental health challenges. Lady Lucy Catherine Russell, who was Bertrand Russell's favourite grandchild, died from self-immolation, at the age of 26, in the forecourt of a church near Penzance, ostensibly protesting in the cause of world peace.[2]

John Russell had a distinguished early career, working for the FAO among other organisations, but in later life he was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Moreover, there was evidence that his father had an affair with his wife and this exacerbated his mental disorder and ensuing divorce.[3][dubious ] This made him the only person in the United Kingdom to be denied the vote on two counts, first, for being a peer and, second, for being insane. He made a speech in the House of Lords that was considered so outlandish that to this day it is the only speech unrecorded by Hansard.[citation needed]

John Russell was succeeded as Earl by his half-brother, the historian Conrad Russell, 5th Earl Russell.


  1. ^ Kevin Jackson, Constellation of Genius – 1922: Modernism and All That Jazz, p. 47, footnote 36
  2. ^ Héctor Abad, The Reasoning Heart. Brick Magazine, No. 88 (Winter, 2012). Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  3. ^ Rogers, N., & Thompson, M. (2004). Philosophers behaving badly. London: Peter Owen

External links[edit]

Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bertrand Arthur William Russell
Earl Russell
Succeeded by
Conrad Sebastian Robert Russell