Russell was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of William Russell, who emigrated from England in 1638, and his wife Sarah Davis. His father died in 1665; his will requested that his "son be devoted to God in the way of learning, being likely to prove a useful instrument in the good work of the ministry." He graduated from Harvard in 1681, and became a teacher. He was ordained at Middletown on 24 October 1688. He was one of the ten founders of Yale in 1701, and a trustee of Yale College for twelve years (1701–1713).
Russell married Mary Hamlin, daughter of Captain Giles Hamlin and his wife Hester Crow, on 20 February 1689/90 at Middletown, Connecticut. They had nine children; their son Rev. William Russell, who graduated from Yale in 1709, and his wife Mary Pierpont, daughter of another Yale founder, Rev. James Pierpont, were parents of another Reverend Noadiah Russell.
Russell was pastor of the First Congregational Church in Middletown, Connecticut, for 25 years, until his death there. He was succeeded as pastor by his eldest son, William. Russell was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Middletown.
- He taught at Ipswich; some sources state he was a tutor at Harvard, but Sibley found no records of him holding that office.
- Sibley, John Langdon. Sibley's Harvard Graduates 1678-1689. pp. 1427–8.