RUSSELL, William (c.1602-1669), of Great Witley, Worcs.; later of Strensham, Worcs. and Charing Cross, Westminster.
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Family and Education
b. c.1602, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Russell† of Strensham and Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Spencer of Yarnton, Oxon.1 educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1620, aged 18; M. Temple 1622.2 m. settlement 20 Sept. 1624, (with £4,500) Frances (bur. 9 Jan. 1654), da. of Sir Thomas Reade of Barton, Berks. and Brocket, Herts., 8s. (5 d.v.p.) 5da. (3 d.v.p.)3 cr. bt. 12 Mar. 1627;4 suc. fa. 1632.5 d. 30 Nov. 1669.6 sig. Wil[liam] Russell.
Master of the game (jt.) Malvern Chase, Worcs. 1610-32;7 commr. swans, Midland counties 1627,8 charitable uses, Worcs. 1632, 1638,9 oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1633-42, 1660-d.;10 j.p. Worcs. 1633-46, 1660-d.;11 sheriff, Worcs. 1635-6, 1642-3,12 commr. Avon navigation 1636;13 dep. lt. Worcs. by 1637-42, 1660;14 commr. array, Worcs. 1642,15 raise volunteers (roy.), Worcs. 1642;16 freeman, Worcester, Worcs. 1643;17 commr. safety (roy.), Worcs. 1643-6, sequestration (roy.), Worcs. 1643,18 association Worcs., Salop, Herefs. and Staffs. (roy.) 1645,19 Sir Jacob Astley’s army 1645-6,20 Poll Tax, Worcs. 1660, assessment, Worcs. 1662, 1664-8, indigent roy. officers, Worcs. 1662, disafforestation Malvern Chase, 1662, subsidy, Worcs. 1663-4.21
Russell must not be confused with the Navy treasurer Sir William Russell*. The Russells, established at Strensham, on Worcestershire’s southern boundary since the late thirteenth century,27 were an important family that regularly represented the county from 1365.28 Russell’s father, Sir Thomas, was elected for Worcestershire when he was only 24, and was sheriff at the time of the 1604 contested election, when he supported the ‘Protestant’ faction. He was subsequently accused of Catholicism, but remained a magistrate and deputy lieutenant.29 Russell himself was also described as a Catholic more than once, but was acquitted by a committee of the Long Parliament.30
On his marriage in 1624, Russell was granted 4,500 acres of his father’s estate, including Great Witley, eight miles south-west of Kidderminster, where he lived until his father’s death. In 1625, while still in his twenties, he was returned for Worcestershire but left no trace on the records of the Parliament. As part of his marriage settlement his father-in-law, Sir Thomas Reade, had promised Russell £500 towards the costs of purchasing a baronetcy.31 However, initial attempts to procure the title via the courtier Endymion Porter† proved unsuccessful. The baronetcy was finally obtained in 1627, but Reade refused to pay, whereupon Russell sued him in Chancery and got permission to levy the money from Reade’s lands.32
In 1632 Russell and his father stirred up riots against the disafforestation of Malvern Chase until they were bought off.33 Later that same year Sir Thomas died, leaving Russell to inherit 4,500 acres in Worcestershire and additional property outside the county. In all, the estate may have been worth as much as £3,000 p.a.34 In 1636 Russell’s servants assaulted the agents of William Sandys†, who were engaged in making the Avon navigable.35 Russell even instigated an enclosure riot on one of his own manors.36 Nevertheless he was a diligent Ship Money sheriff.37
From late 1642 Russell was the dominant figure in Worcestershire royalism, but he was ousted at the end of 1643 after falling out with his colleagues.38 After the war he was indicted for murder at Worcester.39 He died intestate on 30 Nov. 1669 and was buried the following day at Strensham.40 Administration of his estate was granted on 28 December.41 His eldest surviving son, Francis, sat for Tewkesbury in the 1670s and 1680s.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Ben Coates
- 1. Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xc), 84.
- 2. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
- 3. C78/263/8; Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xc), 84; Vis. Worcs. ed. Metcalfe, 84-5; Soc. Gen. Strensham par. reg.; Regs. of St. Michael and All Angels, Great Witley, Worcs. 28, 29, 33, 34, 35.
- 4. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 161.
- 5. C142/580/97.
- 6. Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xc), 84.
- 7. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 641; B.S. Smith, Hist. Malvern, 152.
- 8. C181/3, f. 226v.
- 9. C93/14/1; 93/17/6.
- 10. C181/3, f. 226v; 181/4, f. 143v; 181/5, f. 219; C181/7, pp. 11, 498.
- 11. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry 1625-40 ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 68; Diary of Henry Townshend ed. J.W. Willis Bund (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1920), ii. 184, 276.
- 12. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 159; CSP Dom. 1641-3, p. 416.
- 13. Rymer, ix. pt. 2, p. 6.
- 14. HEHL, EL7443; SP29/11/200.
- 15. Northants RO, FH133.
- 16. R.H. Silcock, ‘County Govt. in Worcs.’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1974), p. 327.
- 17. Chamber Order Bk. of Worcester ed. S. Bond (Worcs. Hist. Soc. n.s. viii)