Russel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Russel is one of the many new names that came to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Russel family lived in Dorset. Their name, however, is a reference to Roussel, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The family there were lords of Rosel, an ancient neighborhood of Cherbourg. [1] [2]

Early Origins of the Russel family

The surname Russel was first found in Dorset where they were originally descended from William Bertram, Baron of Briquebec, living in 1012. His son Hugue (Hugh) named de Roussel attended Duke William at Hastings, and became Marshall of England. "Hugh de Rosel, a benefactor of the abbey of Caen accompanied the Conqueror to England, and was rewarded with possessions in county Dorset, the principally of which were Kingston, afterwards called Kingston-Russell and Berwick, the latter of which is still in possession of the family." [1]

The noted Scottish author George F. Black believed that while not discounting the Norman influence, he felt the name was "most probably a diminutive of rous, 'red'," and that Chaucer's reference to 'Daun Russel' in Nonne Prestes Tale was "alluding to his reddish color." [3] He also notes one the first records in Scotland was Walter Russell who witnessed a charter by Walter filius Alani to the Abbey of Paisley, c. 1164-77. A few years later, John, son of Robert Russel of Doncallaw, granted lands to the Hospital of Soltre between 1180 and 1220. [3]

Moving back to the English branch of the family, we found a few listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273, specifically: Miriel Russell in Huntingdonshire; Simon Russel in Cambridgeshire; and Elyas Russell in London. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed: Johannes Russell and Robertus Russell. [4]

Over on the Isle of Wight in Yaverland, a small branch of the family was found at one time. "An ancient mansion of the Russells here, subsequently of the Richards family, and now a farmhouse, is a good specimen of the Elizabethan style." [5]

Early History of the Russel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Russel research. Another 283 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1012, 1259, 1296, 1310, 1320, 1321, 1376, 1539, 1683, 1727, 1741, 1437, 1423, 1424, 1432, 1417, 1486, 1555, 1550, 1577, 1632, 1601, 1614, 1602, 1669, 1625, 1632, 1669, 1639, 1683, 1660, 1731, 1613, 1700, 1680, 1711, 1642, 1714, 1679, 1683, 1694, 1702, 1710, 1735, 1629, 1692, 1683 and are included under the topic Early Russel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Russel Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Russell, Russel and others.

Early Notables of the Russel family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was John Russell (died 1437), an English landowner and Justice of the Peace, Speaker of the House of Commons (1423-1424) and in 1432, High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1417; Sir John Russell, (c.1486-1555), Lord High Steward and Lord Keeper of the privy seal under Henry VIII and Edward VI, created 1st Earl of Bedford in 1550; Thomas Russell (1577-1632), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1601 and in 1614; Sir William Russell, 1st Baronet, of Wytley (ca. 1602-1669), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons in...
Another 134 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Russel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Russel family to Ireland

Some of the Russel family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 111 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Russel migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Russel or a variant listed above were:

Russel Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Maximilian Russel, who landed in Virginia in 1622 [6]
  • Francis Russel, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1683 [6]
  • Gavin Russel, who arrived in New Jersey in 1685 [6]
  • Peter Russel, who arrived in New Jersey in 1685 [6]
Russel Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Charles Russel, who arrived in Virginia in 1723 [6]
  • David Russel, aged 25, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1774 [6]
  • James Russel, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1775 [6]
  • Elizabeth Russel, who landed in Virginia in 1783 [6]
Russel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Stephen Russel, who arrived in New York in 1801 [6]
  • Frances Russel, aged 40, who arrived in New York, NY in 1803 [6]
  • Annie Russel, aged 38, who landed in New York, NY in 1803 [6]
  • John Russel, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1811 [6]
  • Catherine Russel, who arrived in New Jersey in 1813 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Russel migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Russel Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Cornelia Russel U.E. who settled in New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]
  • Mrs. Jane Russel U.E. who settled in New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]

Australia Russel migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Russel Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Jonathan Russel, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Abberton" in 1849 [8]
  • Eliza Russel, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Stebonheath" in 1849 [9]
  • Charles Russel, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Hyde" in 1849 [10]

New Zealand Russel migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Russel Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. A. Russel, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Robert Henderson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 9th February 1858 [11]
  • Mrs. Russel, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Robert Henderson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 9th February 1858 [11]
  • Miss Margaret Russel, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Robert Henderson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 9th February 1858 [11]
  • Miss Jane Russel, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Robert Henderson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 9th February 1858 [11]
  • Mr. John Russel, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Robert Henderson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 9th February 1858 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Russel (post 1700) +

  • Samuel Russel, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Utah, 1912 (speaker) [12]
  • Joseph Russel, American politician, Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, 1875-78 [12]
  • John W. Russel, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Kings County 4th District, 1909 [12]
  • John Russel, American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Bethany, 1839 [12]
  • Jim Russel, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from California, 2008 [12]
  • Harry L. Russel, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Washington County, 1920 [12]
  • David Russel, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1972 [12]
  • Charles E. Russel, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1972 [12]
  • Andrew Russel (b. 1856), American Republican politician, Illinois State Treasurer, 1909-11, 1915-17 [12]
  • Alexander L. Russel, American politician, Secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1850-52; Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, 1862-67, 1870-73 [12]
  • ... (Another 6 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Russel, British Ordnance Artificer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [13]


The Russel Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Che sara sara
Motto Translation: What will be will be.


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The ABBERTON 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Abberton.htm
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) STEBONHEATH 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Stebonheath.htm
  10. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) WILLIAM HYDE 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849WilliamHyde.htm
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 18) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html


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