RUSSELL, John II, of Wells, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

m. bef. 1397, Alice, prob. 2s.1

Offices Held

Attorney for the dean and chapter of Wells c.1389-aft. 1408.

Commr. of inquiry, Som. June 1397 (lands of a tenant in chief).

Bp. of Bath and Wells’s bailiff of the liberty of Wells by 1400-aft. 1407.2

Tax controller, Som. Mar. 1404.


Russell had been retained as attorney for the dean and chapter of Wells by Trinity term 1389, and accordingly received a regular fee for at least 19 years, besides other payments for extra tasks performed. In 1392-3, for instance, he was paid by the chapter 13s.4d. for his counsel, the same amount as a gift, 9s.3d. as expenses and another 2s. for his clerk. In 1400-1 he received a further £1 1s. for presenting the chapter’s plea against Sir Peter Courtenay both at the local assizes and in the central courts at Westminster, in addition to his by then usual annual fee of £1. Incidentally, it is possible that the same John Russell had previously, in February 1390, acted for Courtenay in a Chancery suit brought against the daughter of the former c.j.c.p., Sir Robert Bealknap, and had stood surety for Sir Peter’s acquisition of an Exchequer lease of some of Bealknap’s property later in the same year. Russell witnessed several deeds at Wells between 1401 and 1412, all of them relating to land belonging to the dean and chapter.3

Some time before he died, in 1400, Bishop Erghum had appointed Russell as bailiff of his liberty of Wells, and in this capacity, in association with one of Erghum’s executors, John Podmore*, and the steward of the episcopal estates, Robert Hill*, he acquired from Nicholas Cristesham* of Wells certain premises in the town which were to be used for the foundation of a chantry in the bishop’s memory. It was doubtless through his association with the chapter and the bishop that Russell came to be arrested early in September 1402, as one of a number of proctors, notaries and summoners of Thomas Stanley, master of the rolls of Chancery, who had allegedly contravened the Statute of Provisors of 1390, for Stanley was dean-elect of Wells. In October 1404, in association with Simon Bailly*, a burgess of Wells, Russell furnished security for the royal alnagers of Somerset.4

At Easter 1397, Russell and his wife had purchased a messuage in Wells, and before 1401 the ‘president’and chapter conveyed to him another in ‘Chamburleynstrete’on a 60-year lease and at an annual rent of 10s. He also rented property in the town from John Chideock*. Russell attested the parliamentary election indentures for Somerset on at least two occasions, at Wells in October 1407 and at Ilchester in May 1413, having in the meantime been himself returned to the Commons as a burgess in 1410. He subsequently witnessed the Wells elections in February and November 1414 and October 1419.5

Russell died at an unknown date before November 1428, in which month Sir John Chideock leased to Robert Elwell*, who had married the MP’s widow, the dwellings in Wells which Russell had earlier held of his father. He was apparently survived by two sons, Oliver and Walter.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xvii), 172.
  • 2. Ibid. (xxii), 4; HMC Wells, i. 441-2.
  • 3. Wells City Chs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xlvi), 104-5; HMC Wells, i. 401, 441, 469; ii. 24, 35, 41, chs. 507, 523; CCR, 1389-92, pp. 113-14; CFR, x. 324.
  • 4. Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii), 4; HMC Wells, i. 441-2; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 596; CFR, xii. 276.
  • 5. Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xvii), 172; HMC Wells, ii. ch. 492; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 476; C219/10/4, 11/2, 3, 5, 12/3.
  • 6. HMC Wells, ii. chs. 587, 592; Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii), 81.