Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Russell, Michael

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RUSSELL, MICHAEL (1781–1848), bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, eldest son of John Russell, a citizen of Edinburgh, was born in 1781. Matriculating at Glasgow Nov. 1800, he graduated M.A. in 1806. Afterwards he was appointed second master of the grammar school at Stirling; but, having become a convert to episcopalianism, he resigned his situation and opened a school of his own. In 1808 he was admitted into deacon's orders, and ordained to the charge of a small congregation in Alloa; but he continued to retain his school until his appointment in the autumn of the following year to the charge of St. James's Chapel, Leith. In 1831 he was made dean of the diocese of Edinburgh, and on 8 Oct. 1837 he was ordained bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, on the separation of that diocese from Edinburgh and St. Andrews. The religious opinions of Russell had a tincture of liberality which caused his orthodoxy to be questioned by the more intolerant of his brethren. In the administration of the affairs of the diocese he was at once conciliatory and energetic, and it is chiefly to him that the Scottish church was indebted for the bill passed in 1840 removing religious disabilities from Scottish episcopalians. In 1820 he received the degree of LL.D. from the university of Glasgow, and in 1842 the university of Oxford conferred on him the diploma degree of D.C.L., for which purpose he was admitted a member of St. John's College. He died suddenly on 2 April 1848, and was buried at Restalrig; a marble slab was erected to his memory in St. James's episcopal chapel, Leith.

Russell was a voluminous author. For many years he was a contributor to the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana’ and the ‘British Critic,’ and he was for some time editor of the ‘Scottish Episcopal Review and Magazine.’ To the Edinburgh Cabinet Library he contributed volumes on ‘Palestine,’ 1831, ‘Ancient and Modern Egypt,’ 1831, ‘Nubia and Abyssinia,’ 1833, ‘The Barbary States,’ 1835, ‘Polynesia,’ 1842, and ‘Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Isles,’ 1850. For ‘Constable's Miscellany’ he wrote a life of Oliver Cromwell (1829, 2 vols. 8vo). Besides many single sermons and charges, he was also the author of ‘A View of Education in Scotland,’ 1813; ‘Connection of Sacred and Profane History from the Death of Joshua to the Decline of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah,’ 3 vols. 1827, intended to complete the works of Shuckford and Prideaux; ‘Observations on the Advantages of Classical Learning,’ 1830; and a ‘History of the Church of Scotland’ in Rivington's Theological Library, 1834. He published an edition of Keith's ‘Scottish Bishops’ (1824, 8vo), and edited Archbishop Spotiswood's ‘History of the Church of Scotland’ for the Bannatyne Club and the Spotiswood Society jointly (1847 and 1851).

[Gent. Mag. 1848, i. 551–2; Walker's Three Churchmen, 1893; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. F. H.