Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford

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Francis William Russell, Kt

Also Known As: "Godfather to Sir Francis Drake"
Birthdate: (58)
Birthplace: Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England
Death: July 28, 1585 (54-62)
Bedford House, Strand, Middlesex, England
Place of Burial: Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of John Russell,1st Earl of Bedford and Anne Sapcote, Countess of Bedford
Husband of Margaret Russell, Countess of Bedford and Bridget Hussey, Countess of Bedford
Father of Anne Dudley; Henry Russell, Baron Russell; Elizabeth Bourchier; John Russell, Baron Russell; Anne Vassall and 3 others
Half brother of Anne Broughton; John Broughton; Robert Broughton; Katherine Broughton and Jane Osborne (Broughton)

Occupation: 2nd Earl of Bedford, Knight of the Garter, Privy Councillor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford

4 sons - 3 died bef. 1585 3 dau.


Historical memoirs of the house of Russell: from the time of the ..., Volume 1 By Jeremiah Holmes Wiffen

  • His first wife was Margaret St John (Bletsoe, Bedfordshire, 1533 - 27 August 1562),
    • daughter of Sir John St John
      • (great-grandson of Margaret Beauchamp of Bletso)
    • and Margaret Walgrave,
  • by whom he had four sons and three daughters:
    • Anne Russell (1548–1603), married Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick
    • Edward Russell, Baron Russell (1551–1572), married Jane Sybilla Morrison of Cashiobury, without issue
    • John Russell, Baron Russell (c.1553–1584), married Elizabeth Cooke, one daughter
    • Francis Russell, Baron Russell (c.1554 – 27 July 1585), married Juliana Foster and had issue, including Edward Russell, 3rd Earl of Bedford, and Mary Ann Russell, wife of John Roote, and had issue
    • William Russell, 1st Baron Russell of Thornhaugh (c.1557–1613)
    • Elizabeth Russell (d. 1605), married William Bourchier, 3rd Earl of Bath
    • Margaret Russell (1560–1616), married George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland.
  • His second wife was Bridget (d. 1601),
    • daughter of John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, twice widowed.
  • He was succeeded as third Earl by his grandson, Edward (1572–1627), only son of Francis, Lord Russell (c. 1550–1585).

Wikipedia - Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, KG (c. 1527 – 28 July 1585) was an English nobleman, soldier and politician and godfather to Francis Drake.

Early life Francis was the son of John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford and Anne Sapcote. 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 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 visited Italy, 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.

Elizabeth 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. 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. 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, appears to have been a generous and popular man, and died in London. He was buried at the family chapel next to Chenies Manor House, the family estate which he had made his principal home and where he had entertained Queen Elizabeth in 1570.

Marriage and issue

  • His first wife was Margaret St John (Bletsoe, Bedfordshire, 1533 - 27 August 1562),
    • daughter of Sir John St John (great-grandson of Margaret Beauchamp of Bletso) and Margaret Walgrave,
    • by whom he had four sons and three daughters:
      • Anne Russell (1548–1603), married Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick
      • Edward Russell, Baron Russell (1551–1572), married Jane Sybilla Morrison of Cashiobury, without issue
      • John Russell, Baron Russell (c.1553–1584), married Elizabeth Cooke, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke and Anne FitzWilliam.
        • They had one son, Francis (died young), and
        • two daughters which included Hon. Anne, Countess of Worcester, wife of the 1st Marquess of Worcester.[1]
      • Francis Russell, Baron Russell (c.1554 – 27 July 1585), married Juliana Foster and
        • had issue, including Edward Russell, 3rd Earl of Bedford, and
        • Mary Ann Russell, wife of John Roote, and had issue
      • William Russell, 1st Baron Russell of Thornhaugh (c.1557–1613)
      • Elizabeth Russell (d. 1605), married William Bourchier, 3rd Earl of Bath
      • Margaret Russell (1560–1616), married George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland.
  • His second wife was Bridget (d. 1601),
    • daughter of John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, twice widowed.

He was succeeded as third Earl by his grandson, Edward (1572–1627), only son of Francis, Lord Russell (c. 1550–1585).


Find A Grave Memorial# 49271810

Sir Francis Russell

  • Birth: 1527 Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England
  • Death: Jul. 28, 1585 London, Greater London, England
  • Knight of the Garter,
  • Knight of Chenies, Buckinghamshire and Russell Bedford House, the Strand, Middlesex.
  • Governor of Berwick upon Tweed, Warden of the East Marches,
  • Privy Councillor,
  • Lieutenant of Devon, Dorset and Cornwall.
  • Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
  • Knight of the Shire for Buckinghamshire.
  • Son and heir to Sir John Russell, Earl of Bedford and Anne Sapcote, the daughter of Sir Guy.
  • Second husband of Margaret Saint John,
    • daughter of John Saint John and Margaret Waldegrave,
    • widow of William Gostwick.
  • They were married about 1546 and had four sons and three daughters:
    • Edward, Lord Russell
    • John, Lord Russell
    • Sir Francis, Lord Russell
    • William, Lord Russell of Thornhaugh
    • Anne, wife of Sir Ambrose Dudley, Ealr of Warwick
    • Elizabeth, wife of William Bourchier, Earl of Bath
    • Margaret, wife of George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland
  • He married secondly to Bridget Hussey,
    • daughter of Sir John Hussey and his second wife, Anne Grey,
      • daughter of George, the Earl of Kent.
    • She was also the widow of Sir Richard Morrison of Casiobury who died 20 Mar 1556 and Sir Henry Manners, Earl of Rutland and Lord Ros who had died 17 Sept 1463.
    • They had no issue.
  • Sir Francis was one of the forty knights who became Knights of Bath at the coronation of King Edward VI, 20 Feb 1547.
  • He was summoned to Lords as Baron Russell in 1553 and succeeded as Earl of Bedford 1555.
  • He was Privy Councillor for Queen Elizabeth and entertained her 23 July 1570 at Chenies, and July of 1572 at Woburn Abbey.
  • Sir Francis died at Russell House of Gangrene and was buried with his first wife at Chenies.
    • Bridget was buried at Watford. 
  • Family links: 
    • Parents:
      • John Russell (1485 - 1555)
      • Anne Sapcote Russell (____ - 1559) 
    • Spouses:
      • Bridget Hussey Russell (1526 - 1600)*
      • Margaret Saint John Russell (1533 - 1572)* 
    • Children:
      • Elizabeth Russell Bourchier (____ - 1605)*
      • Anne Russell Dudley (1548 - 1604)*
      • Edward Russell (1551 - 1572)*
      • John Russell (1553 - 1584)*
  • Burial: Chenies Churchyard, Chenies, Chiltern District, Buckinghamshire, England

Family and Education b. 1527, o.s. of Sir John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford, by Anne, da. of Sir Guy Sapcotes of Hunts. educ. King’s, Camb. m. (1) Margaret (d. 27 Aug. 1562), da. of Sir John St. John of Bletsoe, Beds., wid. of William Gostwick (d. Dec. 1545), of Willington, Beds., 4s. inc. Sir Francis†, John† and William† 3da.; (2) settlement 25 June 1566, Bridget (d. 12 Jan. 1601), da. of Sir John Hussey, Lord Hussey, wid. of Sir Richard Morison (d. 20 Mar. 1556) of London and Cassiobury, Herts. and of Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland (d. 17 Sept. 1563), s.p. Kntd. 20 Feb. 1547. summ. to Lords in fa.’s barony as Baron Russell 1 Mar. 1553; KG nom. 23 Apr. 1564, inst. 15 May 1564. suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Bedford 14 Mar. 1555.1 Offices Held

J.p. Bucks. 1547-d., Beds., Cornw., Devon, Dorset, Northants, Som. 1558/59-d.; sheriff, Beds. and Bucks. 1547-8; custos rot. Bucks. c.1547-d.; commr. relief Bucks. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, eccles. causes, dioceses of Lincoln and Peterborough 1571; trier of petitions in the Lords, Parlts. of 1558, 1559, 1563, 1571; ld. lt., Cornw., Devon, Dorset 1558-d.; PC 21 Nov. 1558-d.; ld. warden of the stannaries 1559-80; ambassador to France 1559, 1561; gov. Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb. and warden, east marches 1564-25 Aug. 1568; lt. gen., the north 1 Aug. 1565; high steward, duchy of Cornw. 13 Apr. 1572-d.; c.j. in eyre, south of the Trent 1584-d.; numerous minor offices.2

Biography Francis Russell owed his place in Tudor society and government to his father’s success. Nothing is known of his childhood and early education, nor of the duration of his study at Cambridge, but his connexion with that university was to set the direction of his religious beliefs. As a boy he was drawn by Holbein and while yet a stripling he served under his father in the French campaign of 1544. It was probably in 1546 that he married Margaret St. John, whose first husband had died in December 1545. Francis Russell received from his father a marriage allowance of £200 a year and doubtless lived at his manor of Amersham, for that was to be named in 1553 as his late place of domicile. In 1551 he obtained a number of offices scattered throughout the midlands which had recently been surrendered by his father, and a year later a licence to have 50 persons in his livery, over and above his household.3

Russell was no more than 17 when elected to the Parliament of 1545, but a birthday intervened between its delayed opening and his election: he was not to be included in local commissions for another two years. His fellow-knight for the shire was the royal favourite, Sir Francis Bryan, who had been returned for the county to at least two previous Parliaments: Russell’s place could only have been procured for him by his father, who was by then lord privy seal. At the election of 1547, in spite of his youth and thanks to his parentage, Russell stood first on the return before Sir Anthony Lee, an older man of great wealth and standing in Buckinghamshire. A doubt as to Russell’s eligibility to remain in the Commons on his father’s creation as Earl of Bedford was settled by an order on 21 Jan. 1550 that he should abide in the Lower House ‘in the state he was before’, and on the list of Members as revised for the fourth session he was entered as ‘Sir Francis Russell Lord Russell’. It was during that session, in March 1552, that he had committed to him a bill concerning pewterers and tin, and another about leases, and that a month later he was required by the House, together with Sir Robert Dudley and (Sir) John Cheke, to intercede with the Duke of Suffolk on behalf of Ralph Ellerker after Ellerker’s discharge for assaulting Sir Robert Brandling. In Edward VI’s second Parliament he was summoned to the Lords on 1 Mar. 1553 as Baron Russell: despite his youth he made an immediate impact upon the House, and his attendance there was exemplary, with only two absences.4

Russell was among the peers’ sons who on 16 June 1553 signed the letters patent settling the crown on Lady Jane Grey, but he doubtless soon afterwards followed his father in supporting Mary’s title. Imprisoned in the Fleet with others on 29 July, he was specially favoured by being removed into the custody of the sheriff of London and allowed visits from his mother. He was soon released, but freedom did not entail the restoration of his seat in the Lords, and he was not to be summoned again as Baron Russell. He fought with his father against the Kentish rebels early in 1554 and was a royal envoy to receive the Prince of Piedmont: none the less, he continued to display his Protestantism. He corresponded with the reformers John Bradford and Edward Underhill in prison: Underhill, to whom he also sent money, had saved him from drowning in the Thames and was later to be described as ‘familiar with him in matters of religion as well across the seas as at home’. The preacher Thomas Becon, once the Duke of Somerset’s chaplain, named Russell in the dedication of works entitled ‘The monstrous merchandise of the Roman bishops’ and ‘The Christian knight’. His father’s death was the occasion of his seeking and receiving permission to travel abroad for two years. Now an earl and the owner of great possessions, he gave power of attorney to his friend Sir William Cecil to administer his affairs in his absence: it appears that this gave Cecil a share in the Russell patronage in parliamentary elections. Bedford’s licence, dated 20 Apr. 1555, was ostensibly given to enable him to gain experience, especially as a visitor to the Emperor at Brussels. This duty discharged reluctantly but meticulously, he was allowed by the Emperor to proceed to Italy, where he travelled as far south as Naples. Between August 1556 and the spring of 1557 he visited Zurich where he began lasting friendships with Bullinger and other reformers. He held a command at the battle of St. Quentin in August 1557, and then returned to England to take up the lord lieutenancy of the south-western counties. He did not establish a residence there but his interest in his forbears led him to buy the ancestral manor of Kingston Lacy in south Dorset. He took his place in the Lords as an earl for the first time in the Parliament of 1558, and his appearance there was no less impressive than it had been before, in his father’s shadow. For the remainder of his life he was one of the leading figures in the House.5

Bedford was to serve Elizabeth in many spheres. An active Privy Councillor, he added to the lieutenancy of the south-west important military and administrative responsibilities in the north. His gifts of languages and polished manners were valuable on missions abroad and at home he earned a reputation for great piety. He followed his father’s example by wielding extensive parliamentary patronage. Bedford died at Russell House in the parish of St. Clement Dane on 28 July 1585 but was buried at Chenies only on 14 Sept. An alabaster tomb supporting coloured effigies of the earl and his first wife, and bearing a lengthy inscription, was erected in the family chapel. His will, made on 7 Apr. 1584, was proved on 30 Sept. 1586 by among others (Sir) Thomas Bromley II; Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Charles Morison†; Henry Neville and Sir Francis Walsingham† as executors. It included provision for 20 sermons at Chenies and elsewhere, for the endowment of the two universities with £140 for poor students of divinity and of University College, Oxford with £20 for two poor students to be known as ‘the Earl of Bedford’s scholars’, the last not being carried out. To Lord Burghley, one of his overseers, Bedford left, besides a rich jewel, his ‘ancient written English books of Wycliffe’s works’ in his closet at Russell House; all his Latin and Italian manuscripts and books passed to his heir. As Bedford’s three eldest sons predeceased him, he was succeeded by Edward, only son of his third son Francis, then aged 13.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558 Author: M. K. Dale Notes

  • 1. Date of birth estimated from parents’ marriage and from age (28) at fa.’s i.p.m. (C142/102/80) and (58) at own death. CP; DNB; H. P. R. Finberg, Gostwicks of Willington (Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xxxvi), 72n, 76, 89 establishes that Margaret 2nd Countess of Bedford was the daughter-in-law, not the wife, of Sir John Gostwick* as given in CP.
  • 2. CPR, 1547-8, pp. 81, 419; 1550-3, pp. 141, 393; 1553, pp. 351, 413; 1563-6, p. 259; 1566-9, p. 201; 1569-72, pp. 476-7; APC, iv. 49, 277; G. Scott Thomson, Lds. Lt. 39, 46, 48; information from J. C. Sainty; LJ, i. 514, 542, 580, 667; Arundel castle mss autograph letters 1513-85, no. 29.
  • 3. Al. Cant. iii. 499; Ath. Cant. ii. 532; G. Scott Thomson, Two Cents. of Fam. Hist. 204; Holbein (The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace 1978-9), 111-12; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 145, 302; 1553-4, p. 282.
  • 4. C142/102/80; CJ, i. 15, 19, 23; M. A. R. Graves, ‘The Tudor House of Lords 1547-58’ (Otago Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1974), ii. 256-7.
  • 5. APC, iv. 305, 314; v. 37; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 38; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 15, 99; Two Cents. of Fam. Hist. 204-5, 207-10, 219; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 93; The Writings of John Bradford (Parker Soc.), 77, 138; Narr. Ref. (Cam. Soc. lxxviii), 145-6; DNB (Bradford, John; Becon, Thomas); Orig. Letters Relating to the Eng. Ref. (Parker Soc.), i. 138; Cam. Misc. x. 120; CSP Ven. 1555-6, p. 145; CSP For. 1553-8, no. 488 ex inf. K. Bartlett; Graves, ii. 256-7; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 94 et passim; CPR, 1558-60, p. 277; Lds. Lt. 39.
  • 6. Neale, Commons, passim; CSP Ven. 1557-8, p. 1554; J. A. Froude, Eliz. i. 44; Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 257; VCH Bucks. iii. 202; PCC 45 Windsor; Rev. Eng. Studies, vii. 385-405; Pevsner, Bucks. 85.

Sir Francis RUSSELL Earl of Bedford [Parents] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

  • was born 14 1526 in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England.
  • He died 28 Jul 1585 in Russell House, Strand, Middlesex, England.
  • Francis married Margaret St. JOHN on 1546 in Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England.
  • Francis married Bridget HUSSEY Countess of Bedford on 25 Jun 1566 in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England.

Citations from: For: Sir Francis RUSSELL Earl of Bedford

  • 1 Stephen, Sir Leslie & Sir Sidney Lee (Editors), The Dictionary of National Biography: From the Earliest Times to 1900 (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1993.), 1:795, Family History Library, 920.042 D561n 1993.
  • 2 Cokayne, George Edward, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant (London: St. Catherine Press, 1910.), 2:75-6, Los Angeles Public Library, 929.721 C682.
  • 3 Richardson, Douglas, Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2005.), pp. 94, 709-10, Family History Library, 942 D5rdm.
  • 4 Cokayne, G., CP, 2:18, 3:568, 4:424, 10:418.
  • 5 Richardson, Douglas, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004.), pp. 114, 618, Family History Library, 942 D5rd.
  • 6 Maddison, Arthur Roland, Lincolnshire Pedigrees v. 51 (London: Publications of the Harleian Society, 1902-1906.), p. 527, Los Angeles Public Library, Gen 942.005 H284 v. 51.
  • 7 Cokayne, G., CP, 11:239, 11:257, 12 (2): 403.
  • 8 Clay, J. W., "The Clifford Family," The Yorkshire Archaelogical Journal vol. 18 (1905) (The Yorkshire Archaeological Society.), p. 392, Family History Library.
  • 9 Vivian, John Lambrick, The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Herald's Visitations of 1531, 1564, & 1620 (Exeter: H.S. Eland, 1895.), p. 107, Family History Library, 942.35 D23v.
  • 10 Harvey, William, The Visitations of Bedfordshire made in 1566, 1582, and 1634 (London: 1884.), p. 53, Los Angeles Public Library.
  • 11 Brydges, Egerton, Collins's Peerage of England (London: T. Bensley, 1812.), 1:269, 1:270-2, Family History Library, 942 D22be.
  • 12 Bindoff, Stanley Thomas, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1509-1558 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1982.), 2:635, Family History Library, 942 D3hp 1509-1558.
  • 13 Cole, Robert Eden George, History of the Manor and Township of Doddington (Lincoln: James Williamson, 1897. FHL BRITISH Film #962,227 Item 2.), p. 84, Family History Library.
  • 14 Cokayne, G., CP, 2:75.

Additional sites for information:


Following the Ark of the Covenant: The Treasure of God, By Kerry Ross Boren, Lisa Lee Boren. page 149.

Sir Francis Russell, second Earl of Bedford (1527-1585)

  • Sir Francis Russell was born at Chenies, Buckinghamshire, the same year as Dee and was a son of Sir John Russell and Anne Sapcote; he died 28 July 1585 at Bedford House, Strand, Middlesex. He married Margaret Saint John (1533-1562), who died at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, an estate inherited by Sir John Russel, the first Earl, from Sir Francis Bryan, who was succeeded as Grand Master of the Rosicrucians by John Dee, upon Bryan’s death in 1550.
  • Sir Francis Russell was a politician and diplomat. He was also Sir Francis Drake’s godfather, and visited Dee in 1677 in connection with Drake’s voyage of circumnavigation that began later the same year. Dee wrote in his diary for the year 1583:
    • “15 June. The Lord Albert Laski [1536-1605; Count Palatine of Siradiw, Polish landowner and patron of the alchemical, occult and Paracelsian sciences] came to Mortlake to me. About 4 of the clock came the Polonium Prince Lord Alber Laski down from Bisham [in Berkshire, home of Lord & Lady Russell], where he had lodged the night before, being returned from Oxford whither he had gone of purpose to see the universities [and to meet with cosmologist Giordano Bruno who was lecturing there on the immortality of souls “and on the quintuple sphere”], where he was very honorably used and entertained. He had in his company the Lord Russell, Sir Philip Sydney and other gentlemen; he was rowed by the Queen’s men, he had the barge covered with the Queen’s cloth, the Queen’s trumpeters, &c. He came of purpose to do me honour, for which God be praised.”
  • Sir Francis Russell and Margaret Saint John were the parents of ten children. Lucy Gunn Morley descended through Francis Russell, Jr. (1555-ca. 1603) who married Anne Forrester.
  • Info about: Elizabeth Russell (1555-1604) married to Wm Bourchier; Margaret Russell, (1560-1616) married to George Clifford, the Earl of Cumberland; Anne Russell (1548-1604); John Russell (1553-1584) married to Elizabeth Cook.
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Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford's Timeline

April 1527
Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England
Age 20
Of, Cheneys, Buckingham, England
Age 23
Of, Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England
Age 25
Of, Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England
Age 26
Badby, Northamptonshire, England
October 27, 1555
Age 28
London, Middlesex, England
Age 28
Ratcliffe, Middlesex, England
Age 30
Thornhaugh, Northamptonshire, England
July 7, 1560
Age 33
Fathers House, Exeter, Devonshire, England