John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford

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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
Personal details
Born 6 July 1766
Died 20 October 1839(1839-10-20) (aged 73)
Spouse(s) Hon. Georgiana Byng
Lady Georgiana Gordon
Children 14, including:
Francis Russell, 7th Duke of Bedford
Lord George 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
Parents Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock
Lady Elizabeth Keppel

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

Political career

Like most Russells, Bedford was a Whig in politics. He sat as Member of Parliament for Tavistock from 1788 to June 1790 and from December 1790 to 1802, when he was elevated to the Upper House 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:

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

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
Shield of arms of John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, KG, PC, FSA
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 was succeeded by his eldest son from his first marriage, Francis. The Duchess of Bedford died in February 1853, aged 71.[citation needed]


  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. ^ Lotnotes for this painting
  5. ^ Trethewey, Rachel. Mistress of the Arts: the Passionate Life of Georgina, Duchess of Bedford. Headline Books 2003; ISBN 0-7472-5503-2
  6. ^ IPNI.  J.Russell. 

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Duke of Bedford
  • Profile,
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Richard Rigby
Richard Fitzpatrick
Member of Parliament for Tavistock
1788–Jun 1790
With: Richard Fitzpatrick
Succeeded by
Richard Fitzpatrick
Charles Wyndham
Preceded by
Richard Fitzpatrick
Charles Wyndham
Member of Parliament for Tavistock
Dec 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
Richard Fitzpatrick
Lord Robert Spencer
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)

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