RUSSELL, Robert I (d.1404), of Dudley, Worcs.
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Family and Education
s. of Maud.
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Salop Feb. 1387, Warws. Feb. 1394, Staffs. Apr. 1398, Worcs. Feb. 1401, Nov. 1402; inquiry, Salop Mar. 1387 (wastes during a minority); gaol delivery, Worcester castle May, July 1397; weirs, Worcs. June 1398; to collect an aid Dec. 1401; make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well May 1402.
J.p. Worcs. 15 July 1389-Dec. 1390, 14 Mar. 1393-d.
Sheriff, Worcs. 17 Nov. 1398-16 Feb. 1400.
[Tax collector, Worcs. Mar. 1404.]1
Robert was almost certainly related to Sir John Russell* of Strensham, possibly being his illegitimate brother and therefore a son of his own namesake who had sat for Worcestershire in 1365. He trained to be a lawyer, and, like Sir John, early in his career entered the employment of Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick. In 1377 he was made a feoffee of the Beauchamp manor of Wickwar (Gloucestershire), so it seems quite likely that he was the same Robert Russell as he who represented the earl’s borough of Warwick in Richard II’s first Parliament. Russell’s clients were drawn from a wide area, covering the counties of Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, and he acted as an attorney not only at the local assizes but also in the court of common pleas. Among those who sought his services as a surety at the Exchequer were Richard Ruyhale* (a fellow lawyer and at that time counsel to the earl of Warwick) and the prior of Alberbury. From 1387 onwards he was active as a royal commissioner in the west Midlands, and from 1389 he served as a j.p. in Worcestershire, there becoming a prominent figure at sessions held between 1394 and 1397. Meanwhile, in August 1394 when Sir John Russell, who having left Warwick’s retinue was now master of the King’s horse, embarked for Ireland in the royal entourage, he nominated Robert as one of his attorneys to supervise his affairs during his absence. In the following January Robert was elected to Parliament in the company of another local lawyer, Alexander Besford, with whom he was to be further associated later that year, the two men then having in their possession goods confiscated from certain felons, whose property pertained to Westminster abbey. Besford was currently employed as steward of the abbey’s western estates, so it is possible that Russell held some other post by the abbot’s appointment.2
Russell’s association with the influential master of the horse now grew closer; in October 1395 he was enfeoffed (along with the treasurer and future archbishop, Roger Walden, and with Richard II’s secretary, John Lincoln) in Sir John Russell’s property in London, and two years later he was made a trustee of his estates in Worcestershire, including some recently acquired from the forfeited possessions of the earl of Warwick. He himself failed to obtain any of the lands confiscated at this time, but he twice stood surety for Richard Felde, clerk, the King’s almoner (a co-feoffee of Sir John’s estates and probably a kinsman of John Prophet, the clerk of the King’s Council), when he secured leases of property in the Crown’s grant because of Warwick’s forfeiture. He most likely owed his appointment in 1398 as sheriff of Worcestershire (a post normally held by the earls of Warwick in fee) to his influential kinsman, who was by that time a leading member of Richard II’s Council. When the crisis came, on 27 June 1399 the Council instructed him to raise troops to fight under the duke of York, then guardian of the realm during the King’s absence in Ireland, in combatting Henry of Bolingbroke’s forces. Accordingly, he left Worcester on 8 July with a knight, seven esquires and 91 archers, and on the 28th rode from Ware (Hertfordshire) to Bristol in York’s company, only when there to witness Bolingbroke’s triumph. The new government did not remove him from the shrievalty immediately, so he was responsible for holding the Worcestershire elections to Henry IV’s first Parliament.3
Richard II’s deposition made little difference to Russell’s continuing participation in local administration; and he remained a member of the Worcestershire bench and a reliable commissioner. He continued to participate in various transactions on behalf of Sir John Russell, notably those arising from his dispute with William, Lord Clinton, and his knowledge of the law led also to his involvement, as a feoffee, in conveyances of Sir Hugh Zouche’s manors of Ashby de la Zouche (Leicestershire) and Fulbourne (Cambridgeshire), presumably to effect their settlement on Hugh, Lord Burnell.4
Russell was a man of small means: he is only known to have held one or two dwellings in Dudley, and the provisions in his will, made on his deathbed on 15 Feb. 1404, were meagre. He asked to be buried in the conventual church of the Carmelite friars in London, to which he left half a mark; and he provided his mother with a pension of six marks a year. The will was proved just a week later.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. News of his death in the previous month had evidently failed to reach Chancery.
- 2. CCR, 1377-81, p. 133; 1381-5, p. 410; 1392-6, p. 127; Yr. Bk. 1378-9 ed. Arnold, 23; JUST 1/1487 m. 12d; CP40/468 m. 204; CFR, ix. 306, 355, 364; x. 206; CPR, 1388-92, p. 344; 1391-6, pp. 509, 600; B.H. Putnam, Procs. J.P.s, 406, 409-10, 413, 415.
- 3. Corporation of London RO, hr 124/26-27, 127/51, 58, 71; CFR, x. 238; CPR, 1396-9, pp. 227, 450; CP25(1)260/25/55, 57; E403/562 m. 14; E364/34 m. I; C219/10/1.
- 4. CCR, 1399-1401, pp. 144, 286; London hr 128/84; Huntington Lib. San Marino, Hastings mss HAD 207/3428-30.
- 5. CP25(1)260/25/34; PCC 5 Marche.