John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford

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For other people named John Russell, see John Russell (disambiguation).
His Grace
The Duke of Bedford
John, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766-1839).jpg
Portrait of John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford by Sir George Hayter in 1835
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
In office
12 March 1806 – 11 April 1807
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Lord Grenville
Preceded by The Earl of Powis
Succeeded by The Duke of Richmond

John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford KG PC FSA (6 July 1766? – 20 October 1839?)[citation needed], known as Lord John Russell until 1802, was a British Whig politician and notably served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the Ministry of All the Talents. He was the father of Prime Minister John Russell, 1st Earl Russell.


Bedford was a younger son of Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock, eldest son and heir of John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford. His mother was Lady Elizabeth, youngest child of Willem van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle and Lady Anne Lennox. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Russell was born on 20 September 1766. However, the following entry in the parish registers of St Giles in the Fields, "John Russell of Francis & Elizabeth marquis & marchioness of Tavistock", dated 2 August 1766 for his baptism, would put his birth earlier.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

Like most Russells, Bedford was a Whig in politics. He sat as Member of Parliament for Tavistock from 1788 to 1790, and served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the Whig government of 1806–1807. He became, as did many of his party who were strong followers of Bonapartism, opposed to the Peninsular War, believing that it neither could nor should be won. He funded, along with his son, many anti-war publications. Bedford was sworn of the Privy Council in 1806 and appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1830.


Bedford married firstly the Hon. Georgiana Byng, daughter of George Byng, 4th Viscount Torrington, in 1786. The marriage lasted 15 years and they had three sons:

There is evidence to suggest that Bedford also kept a mistress named Elizabeth - her surname is unknown - and had one child by her in 1797:

Study of Rachel Russell. Unsubstantiated gossip said that Rachel was the daughter of Edwin Landseer.[1] (Edwin Henry Landseer, 1835)

After Georgiana's early death in October 1801, Bedford married secondly Lady Georgiana, daughter of Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, in 1803.[2] They had ten children, including:

The Duchess of Bedford was a great patroness of the arts, and had a longstanding relationship with the painter Sir Edwin Landseer, a man twenty years her junior. The Bedfords' marriage was nevertheless considered to be a very happy one.[3] Bedford was succeeded by his eldest son from his first marriage, Francis. The Duchess of Bedford died in February 1853, aged 71.[citation needed]

Georgina, Duchess of Bedford, 2nd wife of the 6th Duke of Bedford


  1. ^ Lotnotes for this painting
  2. ^ Biographical details: Georgiana, Duchess of Bedford,; accessed 16 June 2015.
  3. ^ Trethewey, Rachel. Mistress of the Arts: the Passionate Life of Georgina, Duchess of Bedford. Headline Books 2003; ISBN 0-7472-5503-2
  4. ^ "Author Query for 'J.Russell'". International Plant Names Index. 


External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Richard Rigby
Richard Fitzpatrick
Member of Parliament for Tavistock
with Richard Fitzpatrick

Succeeded by
Richard Fitzpatrick
Charles Wyndham
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Powis
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Duke of Richmond
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Francis Russell
Duke of Bedford
Succeeded by
Francis Russell
Baron Howland of Streatham
(descended by acceleration)