Russel, William, Fifth Earl And First Duke Of Bedford

, was eldest son of Francis fourth earl of Bedford, by Catharine, sole daughter and heir of Giles Bridges, lord Chandois, and was born in 1614. He was educated in Magdalen college, Oxford, and was made knight of the bath at the coronation of king Charles I. He was a member of the Long-parliament, which met at Westminster, November 3, 1640; and May 9 following, upon the death of his father, succeeded him in his honours and estate. In July 1642, having avowed his sentiments against the measures pursued by the court, he was appointed by the parliament general of the horse, in the army raised in their defence against the king; and the marquis of Hertford | being sent by his majesty into the West to levy forces, iti order to relieve Portsmouth, the earl of Bedford inid the command of seven thousand foot, and eight full troops of horse, to prevent his success in those parts; and marched with such expedition, that he forced the marquis out of Somersetshire, where his power and interest were believed unquestionable, and thus destroyed all hopes of forming an army for the king in the West. He afterwards joined the eari of Essex, and in the battle of Edgehill commanded the reserve of horse, which saved the whole army, when the horse of both wings had been defeated, and, after doing great execution on the king’s infantry, brought off their own foot; so that it became doubtful who had the victory, this reserve being the only body of forces that stood their ground in good order. In 1643, he, and the earls of Holland and Clare, conferred with the earl of Essex, who became dissatisfied with the war; and they had so much influence in the House of Lords, that, on the 5th of August the same year, that House desired a conference with the Commons, and declared to them their resolution of senclHig propositions for peace to the king, and hoped they would join with him. But by the artin’ce of Pennington, lord mayor of London, who procured a petition from the common-council of that city against the peace, such tumults were raised to terrify these lords, that they left the town, the Commons refusing to agree to their propositions. The earls of Bedford and Holland resolved therefore to go to Oxford; but their purpose being discovered or suspected, they with some difficulty got into the king’s garrison at Wallingford, from whence the governor sent an account of their arrival to the council at Oxford. The king was then at the siege of Gloucester, and the council divided in their opinions, in what manner to receive them; but his majesty upon his return determined on a middle way, by allowing them to come to Oxford, and every person to treat them there as they thought fit, while himself would regard them according to their future behaviour. Accordingly the two earls came, and, together with the earl of Clare, entered into the king’s service in Gloucestershire, waited upon his majesty throughout his march, charged in the royal regiment of horse at the battle of Newbury with great bravery, and in all respects behaved themselves well. Upon the king’s return to Oxford, he spoke to them on all occasions very graciously; but they were not treated in the | same manner by others of the court, so that the earl of Holland going away first, the earls of Bedford and Clare followed, and came to the earl of Essex at St. Alban’s on Christmas-day, 1643. Soon after this, by order of parliament, the earl of Bedford was taken into custody by the black rod, and his estate sequestered, as was likewise the earl of Clare’s, tili the parliament, pleased with their successes against % the king in 1644, ordered their sequestrations to be taken off, and on the 17th of April the year following, the earl of Bedford, with the earls of Leicester and Ciare, and the lords Paget, Rich, and Convvay, who had left Oxford, and joined the parliament at London, took the covenant before the commissioners of the great-seal. He did not, however, interpose in any public affairs, till the House of Peers met in 1660, when the earl of Manchester, their speaker, was ordered by them to write to him to take his place among them; which he accordingly did, being assured of their design to restore the king and on the 27th of April that year, he was appointed one of the managers of the conference with the House of Commons, “to consider of some ways and means to make up the breaches and distractions of the kingdom” and on the 5th of May was one of the committee of peers “for viewing and considering, what ordinances had been made since the House of Lords were voted useless, which now passed as acts of parliament, and to draw up and prepare an act of parliament to be presented to the House to repeal what they should think fit.

After the restoration of king Charles II. the earl of Bedford, notwithstanding his past conduct, was so far in his favour, that at the solemnity of his coronation, on April 23, 1661, he had the honour to carry St. Edward’s scepter; and, on May 29, 1672, was elected a knight of the most noble order of the garter. When the prince and princess of Orange came to the throne, he was sworn one of their privy council and at their coronation, on April 11, 1689, carried the queen’s scepter with the dove. They constituted his lordship, on May 10, 1689, lord lieutenant of the counties of Bedford and Cambridge; and, on March 1, 1691, lord lieutenant and custos rotulorum for the county of Middlesex, and the liberties of Westminster. He sought for no other honours or employments; but their majesties, on May 11, 1694, created him marquis of Tavistock and duke of Bedford, and, in enumerating his merits in the | patent it is expressed, “That this was not the least, that he was father to the lord Russel, the ornament of his age, whose great merits it was not enough to transmit by history to posterity; but they were willing to record them in their royal patent, to remain in the family, as a monument consecrated to his consummate virtue; whose name could never be forgot, so long as men preserved any esteem for sanctity of manners, greatness of mind, and a love to their country, constant even to death. Therefore to solace his excellent father for so great a loss, to celebrate the memory of so noble a son, and to excite his worthy grandson, the heir of such mighty hopes, more cheerfully to emulate and follow the example of his illustrious father, they intailed this high dignity upon the earl and his posterity.

This duke, in 1695, having made the settlements previous to his grandson’s marrying Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of John Howlancl, of Stretham, esq. who was one of the greatest fortunes of that time, it was thought convenient, for the honour of this alliance, to make him baron Howland, of Stretham in Surrey, on June 13 the same year. His grace died in the eighty-seventh year of his age, September 7, 1700, and was buried with his ancestors at Cheneys, where a most noble monument is erected for him and his countess (who died on May 10, 16S1-, aged sixty-four), their two figures being exhibited under a canopy, supported by two pillars of the Corinthian order. 1


Collins’s Peerage by Sir E. Brydges. Birch’s Lives.