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The Earl of Bedford
Personal details
Bornc. 1527
Died28 July 1585(1585-07-28) (aged 57–58)
Margaret St John
(died 1562)​
Bridget Hussey
(m. 1566)​
RelationsEdward Russell, 3rd Earl of Bedford (grandson)
Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford (grandson)
Parent(s)John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford
Anne Sapcote
Alma materKing's Hall, Cambridge

Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, KG (c. 1527 – 28 July 1585) of Chenies in Buckinghamshire and of Bedford House in Exeter, Devon, was an English nobleman, soldier, and politician. He was a godfather to the Devon-born sailor Sir Francis Drake. He served as Lord Lieutenant of Devon (1584-5).

Early life

Quartered arms of Sir Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, KG
Francis Russell as a boy, by Hans Holbein the Younger, drawing in the Royal Collection

Francis was the son of John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford and Anne Sapcote.[1] He was educated at King's Hall, Cambridge and accompanied his father, to sit in the House of Commons. He represented Buckinghamshire in parliament in 1545–47 and 1547–52. In 1547 he was appointed High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. He assisted to quell the rising in Devon in 1549, and after his father had been created Earl of Bedford in January 1550, was known as Lord Russell, taking his seat in the House of Lords under this title in 1552.

Russell was in sympathy with reformers, whose opinions he shared, and was in communication with Sir Thomas Wyatt; and in consequence of his religious attitude was imprisoned during the earlier part of Mary's reign. Being released he visited Italy, and came into touch with foreign reformers. He led the English contingent fighting for Philip II of Spain, then England's King Consort, at the Battle of St. Quentin in 1557.[2]

Elizabeth I

When Elizabeth I of England ascended the throne in November 1558 the Earl of Bedford, as Russell had been since 1555, became an active figure in public life. He was made a privy councillor, and was sent on diplomatic errands to Charles IX of France and Mary, Queen of Scots.

From February 1564 to October 1567 he was governor of Berwick and warden of the east marches of Scotland, in which capacity he conducted various negotiations between Elizabeth and Mary. Bedford represented Elizabeth as her ambassador at the baptism of Prince James on 17 December 1566 at Stirling Castle, and was guest of honour at the subsequent banquet and masque. Mary, Queen of Scots gave him a gold chain set with pearls, diamonds, and rubies.[3] After the baptism, Mary's half-brother James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray took him on a tour of Fife. They visited St Andrews and Hallyards, a house of William Kirkcaldy of Grange.[4]

He appears to have been an efficient border warden, but was irritated by the vacillating and tortuous conduct of the English queen. When the northern insurrection broke out in 1569, Bedford was sent into Wales, and he sat in judgment upon the Duke of Norfolk in 1572.

In 1576 he was president of the council of Wales. In 1581 he was one of the commissioners deputed to arrange a marriage between Elizabeth and François, Duke of Anjou. Bedford, who was made a Knight of the Garter in 1564, appears to have been a generous and popular man, and died in London in 1585.

Personal life

His first wife was Margaret (née St John) Gostwick (1533–1562), a widow of Sir John Gostwick. Margaret was a daughter of Sir John St John (great-grandson of Margaret Beauchamp of Bletso) and Margaret Waldegrave (a daughter of Sir William Waldegrave). Together, they were the parents of four sons and three daughters:[5]

Lady Bedford died on 27 August 1562. Bedford married his second wife, Bridget Manners, the Dowager Countess of Rutland (d. 1601), on 25 June 1566. Lady Rutland, a daughter of John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford and Lady Anne Grey (a daughter of George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent), had been twice widowed; first from Ambassador Sir Richard Morrison of Cashiobury in 1556, and second from Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland in 1563.[5]

Lord Bedford died in London on 28 July 1585. He was buried at the family chapel at St. Michael's Church next to Chenies Manor House, the family estate which he had made his principal home and where he had entertained Queen Elizabeth in 1570. He was succeeded as third Earl by his grandson, Edward Russell (1572–1627), only son of Francis Russell, Lord Russell.[5]


Through his grandson, Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford (1587–1641) who was born two years after Lord Bedford's death in 1585, he was a great-grandfather of William Russell (1616–1700) who married Lady Anne Carr (a daughter of Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset) and became the 5th Earl of Bedford before he was created Duke of Bedford and Marquess of Tavistock on 11 May 1694.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Prince 2008, p. 16.
  2. ^ Tittler & Richards 2014, p. xviii-xix.
  3. ^ Joseph Bain, Calendar State Papers Scotland: 1563-1569, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1900), p. 310.
  4. ^ Joseph Bain, Calendar State Papers Scotland: 1563-1569, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1900), pp. 308-9.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Bedford, Earl of (E, 1549/50)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  6. ^ David Nash Ford. Royal Berkshire History, Nash Ford Publishing, 2001. Elizabeth Cooke
  7. ^ William Boyd, Calendar of State Papers Scotland: 1574-1581, vol. 5 (Edinburgh, 1907) p. 170.
  8. ^ The Complete Peerage, Volume II. St Catherine's Press. 1912. p. 77.


  • Prince, Hugh C. (2008). Parks in Hertfordshire Since 1500. Hertfordshire Publications.
  • Tittler, Robert; Richards, Judith (2014). The Reign of Mary I. Routledge.

External links

  • Accessed 27 October 2007
  • Accessed 27 October 2007
  • Richardson, Douglas, Kimball G. Everingham, and David Faris. Plantagenet Ancestry A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Royal ancestry series. Baltimore, Md: Genealogical Pub. Co, 2004. Accessed 28 October 2007

2 Annotations

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

RUSSELL, FRANCIS, second Earl Of Bedford (1527?-1586), son of John Russell, first earl of Bedford; of King's Hall, Cambridge; K.B., 1547; M.P., Buckinghamshire, 1547-52; witnessed deed by which Edward VI settled the crown on Lady Jane Grey, 1553; Imprisoned, 1553-5; escaped to continent ; returned, 1558; privy councillor, 1558; took active part in religious settlement; warden of east marches, governor of Berwick, and K.G., 1564; commissioner to treat as to Mary Queen of Scots' marriage, 1564; lord president of Wales and lieutenant of Garter, 1576; chief-justice and justice in eyre of royal forests south of Trent, 1581.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


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