John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford

John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford

John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford KG PC LLD FSA (6 July 1766 – 20 October 1839) was a younger son of Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock (eldest son and heir of the 4th Duke of Bedford who had died during the lifetime of his father) and Lady Elizabeth Keppel (the youngest child of Willem van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle and Lady Anne Lennox). At the time of his birth, Lord John Russell (as he then was) was not expected to succeed to the title — unless his elder brother, Francis Russell, Lord Howland died in infancy or at some point later without legitimate heirs.

Lord John Russell married relatively young, to Georgiana Byng, a daughter of the 4th Viscount Torrington. They had three sons before she died young:
*Francis Russell, 7th Duke of Bedford
*Lord George William Russell
*Lord John Russell, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and became the 1st Earl Russell, and was the ancestor of philosopher Bertrand Russell.

Russell's life then changed suddenly when in 1802 his elder brother, now the 5th Duke of Bedford, died suddenly without having married. At his death, the 5th Duke was reportedly engaged to Lady Georgina Gordon, youngest daughter of the formidable matchmaker the Duchess of Gordon. (Three other daughters were married to the Earl of March and Darnley (the prospective 4th Duke of Richmond), the 5th Duke of Manchester, and the Viscount Brome (the future 2nd Marquess Cornwallis) at this time.)

After a suitable period, the new 6th Duke married Lady Georgina (as his 2nd wife). The new Duchess was unhappy that her husband already had three sons, which meant that any son of hers would be unlikely to succeed to the dukedom and associated properties. The marriage produced ten children including:
* Lady Georgiana Elizabeth Russell (d. March 22, 1867), married Charles Romilly and had issue
* Reverend Lord Wriothesley Russell (11 May 1804 – 6 April 1886), married Elizabeth Russell, his second cousin once removed, died without issue
* Admiral Lord Edward Russell (24 April 1805 – 21 May 1887), married Mary Ann Taylor and died without issue
* Lt.-Col. Lord Charles James Fox Russell (10 February 1807 – 29 June 1894), married Isabella Davies and had issue
* Lady Louisa Jane Russell (8 July 1812, d. 31 Mar 1905), married James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn and had issue
* General Lord Sir Alexander George Russell (16 September 1821 – 10 January 1907), married Anne Holmes and had issue
* Lady Rachel Evelyn Russell (1826 – 21 February 1898), married Lord James Butler and had issue.

Georgina, Duchess of Bedford, a great patroness of the arts, later had a long standing relationship with the painter Sir Edwin Landseer, a man twenty years her junior. However the Bedfords' marriage was considered to be a very happy one. [Trethewey, Rachel. "Mistress of the Arts: the Passionate Life of Georgina, Duchess of Bedford". Headline Books 2003. ISBN 0-7472-5503-2]

Like most of the Russells, Bedford was a Whig in politics, 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.



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