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Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford

Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford (c. 1527-1585), was educated at King’s Hall, Cambridge. He accompanied his father to the French war in 1544, and from 1547 to 1552 was member of parliament for Buckinghamshire, being probably the first heir to a peerage to sit in the House of Commons. He assisted to quell the rising in Devonshire 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 the 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 went into exile; visited Italy; came into touch with foreign reformers; and fought at the Battle of St Quentin in 1557. Afterwards he seems to have enjoyed some measure of the royal favour, and was made lord-lieutenant of the counties of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset early in 1558. When Elizabeth 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. He appears to have been an efficient 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, and in 1581 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, was lord warden of the Stannaries from 1553 to 1580. He appears to have been a generous and popular man, and died in London on 28 July 1585. He was buried at Chenies. His first wife was Margaret (d. 1562), daughter of Sir John St John, by whom he had four sons and three daughters. His three eldest sons predeceased their father. His second wife was Bridget (d. 1601), daughter of John, Lord Hussey. He was succeeded as 3rd earl by his grandson, Edward (15721627), only son of Francis, Lord Russell (c. 15501585).

Preceded by:
John Russell
Earl of Bedford Followed by:
Edward Russell