John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford

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The Duke of Bedford
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
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Lord Grenville
Preceded byThe Earl of Powis
Succeeded byThe Duke of Richmond
Member of Parliament
for Tavistock
In office
Succeeded byLord Robert Spencer
In office
Preceded byRichard Rigby
Personal details
Born6 July 1766
Woburn Abbey, Woburn, Bedfordshire, England
Died20 October 1839(1839-10-20) (aged 73)
Spouse(s)Hon. Georgiana Byng
Lady Georgiana Gordon
Children14, including:
Francis Russell, 7th Duke of Bedford
Major-General Lord George William Russell
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell
Lord Wriothesley Russell
Lord Edward Russell
Lord Charles James Fox Russell
Louisa Hamilton, Duchess of Abercorn
Lord Alexander Russell
Parent(s)Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock
Lady Elizabeth Keppel
Quartered arms of John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, KG, PC, FSA

John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, KG, PC, FSA (6 July 1766 – 20 October 1839), known as Lord John Russell until 1802, was a British Whig politician who 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.[1]


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, the youngest child of Willem van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle and Lady Anne Lennox.[2]

Political career[edit]

Like most Russells, Bedford was a Whig in politics. He sat as Member of Parliament for Tavistock[a] from 1788 to June 1790 and from December 1790 to 1802, when he was automatically elevated to the Lords on the death of his brother. He served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland during 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:

After Georgiana's early death in October 1801, Bedford married secondly Lady Georgiana, daughter of Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, in 1803.[3] They had ten children, including:

Georgina, Duchess of Bedford, 2nd wife of the 6th Duke of Bedford
Study of Rachel Russell. Unsubstantiated gossip said that Rachel was the daughter of Edwin Landseer.[4] (Edwin Henry Landseer, 1835)

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.[5]

Bedford Lodge[edit]

In 1823 the 6th Duke of Bedford was looking for a house in London and took the lease of one of the seven houses designed and built by John Tasker on Campden Hill, Kensington, for the sum of £5,250.[6] The lodge, previously occupied by General Sir John Fraser and then a Major Colegrave, was a simple Regency villa. The Duke employed his architect Jeffry Wyatt, who had worked for him on Woburn Abbey, to enlarge the villa. After these developments were completed, for several years Bedford Lodge was valued more highly for rating purposes than Holland House. After the Duke's death in 1839, the Dowager Duchess continued to live at Bedford Lodge and made it a famous centre for social gatherings. Duchess of Bedford's Walk in Kensington is named in her honour. Shortly after her death in 1853, it was taken by the eighth Duke of Argyll, who renamed the house Argyll Lodge and kept it until his death in 1900.

Footnotes and references[edit]


  1. ^ which had not seen any professedly Tory MPs since at least 1660


  1. ^ "RUSSELL, Lord John (1766-1839)". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Biographical details: Georgiana, Duchess of Bedford,; accessed 16 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, R.A. (London 1802-1873)".
  5. ^ Trethewey, Rachel. Mistress of the Arts: the Passionate Life of Georgina, Duchess of Bedford. Headline Books 2003; ISBN 0-7472-5503-2
  6. ^ "The Phillimore estate | British History Online".
  7. ^ International Plant Names Index.  J.Russell.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Tavistock
1788 – June 1790
With: Richard FitzPatrick
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Tavistock
December 1790 – 1801
With: Richard FitzPatrick
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Tavistock
With: Richard FitzPatrick
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
Peerage of England
Preceded by Duke of Bedford
Succeeded by
Baron Howland of Streatham
(descended by acceleration)