Rachel Russell, Lady Russell

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Lady Rachel Wriothesley

Birthplace: Titchfield, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
Death: September 29, 1723 (86)
Southampton House, Bloomsbury, Middlesex, England
Place of Burial: Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton and Rachel Wriothesley
Wife of Francis Vaughan, Lord Vaughan and William Russell, Lord Russell
Mother of Rachel Cavendish (Russell), Duchess of Devonshire; Catherine Manners, Duchess of Rutland and Wriothesley Russell, 2nd Duke of Bedford
Sister of Frances Wriothesley and Elizabeth Wriothesley
Half sister of Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Montagu and Monck, Duchess of Albermarle

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About Rachel Russell, Lady Russell

Rachel, Lady Russell (née Lady Rachel Wriothesley) was an English noblewoman, heiress, and author. Her second husband was William, Lord Russell, implicated in the Rye House Plot and later executed. A collection of the many letters she wrote to her husband and other distinguished men was published in 1773.

Lady Rachel received a religious upbringing, and remained throughout her life, a devout member of the Church of England. In her youth, she was described as having been remarkable for her elegance of form, personal beauty, and graceful manners. In 1653, Lady Rachel married her first husband, Francis Vaughan, Lord Vaughan, the eldest son of Richard Vaughan, 2nd Earl of Carbery. Upon their marriage, she went to live with her father-in-law at Golden Grove in Carmarthen, Wales. In 1655, she gave birth to a child, whose sex and name was not recorded as it died shortly after its birth. She became a widow in 1667, which was the same year her father died. She and her older sister, Elizabeth, Viscountess Campden, inherited his entire estate. Lady Campden received the family seat of Titchfield, while the share which Lady Vaughan inherited was the domain of Stratton, also in Hampshire. Rachel remained with the Viscountess Campden at Titchfield for some time after their father's death.

In 1669, Lady Vaughan married her second husband, William, Lord Russell, who was three years her junior. They obtained a marriage licence at Titchfield on 31 July 1669, and were married on 20 August 1669. The marriage was described as having been happy, and Lord Russell appreciated his wife's intelligence, virtue, affection and piety.In 1678, upon the death of her childless brother-in-law, Francis, the couple became known as Lord and Lady Russell. Together they had four children. In 1683, Lord Russell was one of the conspirators in the Rye House Plot, which was a plan to ambush King Charles II and his brother, James, Duke of York, on their way back to London from the Newmarket races. The plot was disclosed to the government. Lord Russell, unlike his co-conspirators, refused to escape to Holland. He was accused of promising his assistance in an insurrection and bringing about the death of the King and the Duke of York. On 26 June 1683, he was sent to the Tower of London, and shortly afterwards, tried and convicted of treason. Lady Russell had acted as his secretary during his trial where he was sentenced to death by beheading. Upon his condemnation, Lady Russell laboured diligently to save her husband's life; she was aided by her father-in-law, the Earl of Bedford, who offered a sum of between £50,000 to £100,000 for a pardon to his son. Lady Russell even threw herself at the King's feet, pleading for him to grant clemency to her husband; however, the King was unmoved by her tearful pleas, and refused to abrogate the death sentence.

On the day before her husband's execution, Lady Russell visited him in the Tower and they embraced one last time. The following morning, on 21 July 1683, he was beheaded at Lincoln's Inn Fields. Several days later, she wrote the King a letter.

The attainder against her husband was reversed by a bill which was passed in Parliament and received the royal signature in the reign of William and Mary.

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Rachel Russell, Lady Russell's Timeline

September 19, 1637
Titchfield, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
September 19, 1637
Titchfield, Hampshire, England
January 1674
St. Giles In The Fields, Holborn, Westminster, Middlesex, England
August 23, 1676
Westminster, London, , England
November 1, 1680
St. Giles In The Fields, Holborn, Westminster, Middlesex, England
September 29, 1723
Age 86
Southampton House, Bloomsbury, Middlesex, England
October 8, 1723
Age 86
Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England