1st Baron Russell of Thornhaugh (1603-1613)
Born c.1558 Died 1613
William Russell was a younger son of Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, and was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford. After spending a few years abroad, he went to Ireland in 1580, and having seen some service in that country he was knighted in September 1581. In 1585 he joined the English forces in the Netherlands, being made lieutenant-general of cavalry; in September 1586 he so distinguished himself at Zutphen that the Spaniards pronounced him "a devil and not a man"; and in 1587 he became governor of Flushing in succession to his late friend, Sir Philip Sidney. He differed with the estates of Holland and with his superior, Lord Willoughby de Eresby; consequently, on his own initiative, he was recalled to England in July 1588.
In May 1594 Russell was made Lord Deputy of Ireland in place of Sir William Fitzwilliam. He relieved Enniskillen, but his attempts to capture the insurgent leaders, Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and Fiagh MacHugh O'Byrne, came to nothing. In May 1595 Sir John Norris landed in Ireland, his orders being to help the lord deputy in his difficult task. Russell was somewhat chagrined at the choice, as he and Norris were not very good friends, but for a short time they acted together against the rebels in the north of Ireland. Russell then led an expedition into Connaught, but soon he and Norris were at variance. Having captured O'Byrne in May 1597, Russell laid down his office and left Ireland later in the month. In 1603 he was created Baron Russell of Thornhaugh, and he died on the 9th of August 1613. In 1627 his only son Francis succeeded his cousin Edward as 4th Earl of Bedford.
Russell's Journal of his doings in Ireland is in the Carew Manuscripts, and many of his letters are in the British Museum. See J. H. Wiffen, Historical Memoirs of the House of Russell (1833), and R. Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, vol. iii. (1890).
Being the entry for RUSSELL OF THORNHAUGH, WILLIAM, 1st BARON in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.