Russell, William (d.1654) (DNB00)

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RUSSELL, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1654), treasurer of the navy, the son of William Russell of Surrey, and grandson of Maurice Russell of Yaverland, Isle of Wight, was a prominent member of several of the great trading companies. He was sworn a free brother of the East India Company on 20 Oct. 1609, ‘having formerly bought Sir Francis Cherry's adventure,’ and became a director on 5 July 1615. He was appointed a director of the Company of the Merchants of London, the discoverers of the North-West Passage, in July 1612. For many years he traded as an adventurer in the Muscovy Company, but, dissatisfied with the management, withdrew his capital. He afterwards became involved in legal proceedings with the company. In May 1618 he bought the treasurership of the navy from Sir Robert Mansell. He held this office until about 1627, when Sir Sackville Crow succeeded him. But the latter appears to have been so incompetent that Russell was reappointed in January 1630 and created a baronet. In 1632 he was appointed a commissioner to inquire into frauds on the customs; on 11 Jan. 1639 Sir Henry Vane was associated with him in the treasurership of the navy. A man of considerable wealth, Russell frequently lent money to the government of Charles I. He was one of the promoters of the Persian Company, to which he subscribed 3,000l., and took part in numerous projects for draining the Fens. He died in 1654, and was buried (3 Feb.) at Chippenham, Cambridgeshire.

Russell married, first, Elizabeth (d. 1626), daughter of Sir Francis Cherry; secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Gerard of Burnell, Cambridgeshire, by whom he had seven sons and three daughters. Of these the eldest, Sir Francis, succeeded as second baronet, and his daughter Elizabeth married Henry Cromwell; the second son, Sir William, knt., was called ‘Black’ Sir William; the third, Gerard, was father of William Russell of Fordham (d. 1701), who married Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Cromwell. Thirdly, Russell married Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Michael Smallpage of Chichester, and widow of John Wheatley of Catesfield, Sussex, by whom he had two sons. Of these, Sir William (called ‘White’ Sir William), was created a baronet on 8 Nov. 1660; the dignity became extinct on his death without male issue.

Russell must be distinguished from Sir William Russell, bart., of Strensham, high sheriff of Worcestershire in 1643 and governor of Worcester during the civil war; he took an active part on the royalist side, and died on 30 Nov. 1669 (Chambers, Biogr. Illustr. of Worcestershire, pp. 118-20).

[Noble's House of Cromwell, pp. 403, 404; Waylen's House of Cromwell, 1891, p. 28; Clarendon's History of the Rebellion; Burke's Extinct Baronetcies, p. 455; Visitation of London (Harleian Society), ii. 217; Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, iii. 159; Calendar of Domestic State Papers (James I and Charles I), passim; Calendar of Colonial State Papers (East Indies, 1513-1634), passim.]

W. A. S. H.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.240
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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479 ii 36 Russell, Sir William (d. 1654): after Chippenham insert Cambridgeshire