Russell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Russell was carried to England in the enormous movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Russell 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 Russell family

The surname Russell 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]

"The Russells have ever been the most liberal of landlords. Every improvement made in Tavistock, [Devon] has been carried out by the Duke for the time being, ' regardless of expense,' with a taste as well as a liberality that have resulted in making the little town so far as its main thoroughfares go the handsomest of its size in the West of England. " [6]

Early History of the Russell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Russell 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 Russell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Russell Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Russell, Russel and others.

Early Notables of the Russell 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 Russell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Russell World Ranking

In the United States, the name Russell is the 97th most popular surname with an estimated 211,395 people with that name. [7] However, in Canada, the name Russell is ranked the 127th most popular surname with an estimated 24,725 people with that name. [8] And in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Russell is the 52nd popular surname with an estimated 466 people with that name. [9] Australia ranks Russell as 67th with 34,420 people. [10] New Zealand ranks Russell as 69th with 4,851 people. [11] The United Kingdom ranks Russell as 78th with 57,822 people. [12]

Ireland Migration of the Russell family to Ireland

Some of the Russell 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 Russell migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Russell or a variant listed above:

Russell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William and Walter Russell, who settled in Virginia in 1607
  • John Russell, who settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Dennis Russell, who arrived in Virginia in 1628 [13]
  • Simon Russell, who settled in Boston in 1631
  • Joe Russell, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Russell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mary Russell, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [13]
  • David Russell, who landed in Oxford, Maryland in 1747 [13]
Russell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Elizabeth Russell, aged 22, who arrived in New York, NY in 1804 [13]
  • Isabella Russell, who arrived in New York, NY in 1804 [13]
  • Isaac Russell, who landed in America in 1805 [13]
  • Henry Russell, aged 22, who landed in New York in 1812 [13]
  • Jane Russell, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Russell migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Russell Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Elijah Russell, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Miss. Elizabeth Russell U.E. who settled in Belle Vue, Beaver Harbour, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 [14]
  • Mr. Jonathan Russell U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway, [Shelbourne], Nova Scotia on October 26, 1783 was passenger number 270 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on September 28, 1783 at Staten Island, New York, USA [14]
  • Mrs. Martha Russell U.E. who settled in Belle Vue, Beaver Harbour, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 [14]
  • Mrs. Molly Russell U.E. who settled in Belle Vue, Beaver Harbour, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Russell Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Bridget Russell, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1823
  • James Russell, aged 50, a farmer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Thomas Russell, aged 13, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
  • William Russell, aged 11, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Jane Russell, aged 45, a widow, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Ugoni" from Belfast, Ireland
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Russell migration to Australia +

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

Russell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Russell, English convict from Southampton, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia [15]
  • William Russell, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia [16]
  • Mr. George Russell, British Convict who was convicted in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Caledonia" on 5th July 1820, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [17]
  • Mr. James Russell, (b. 1797), aged 23, English blacksmith who was convicted in Stafford, Staffordshire, England for 7 years for breaking into a warehouse, transported aboard the "Dick" on 2nd October 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1834 [18]
  • John Russell, English convict from Somerset, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [19]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Russell 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:

Russell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Russell, aged 21, a gardener, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Gertrude" in 1841
  • David Russell, aged 32, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jane Gifford" in 1842
  • Elizabeth Russell, aged 34, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jane Gifford" in 1842
  • Elizabeth Russell, aged 10, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jane Gifford" in 1842
  • John Russell, aged 8, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jane Gifford" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Russell migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [20]
Russell Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • MissKatherin Russell, (b. 1615), aged 20, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Anne and Elizabeth" arriving in Barbados in 1635 [21]
  • Mr. Francis Russell, (b. 1612), aged 23, British settler travelling aboard the ship "The Dorset" arriving in Barbados in September 1635 [22]

Contemporary Notables of the name Russell (post 1700) +

  • Frank Russell (1949-2021), American professional basketball player who played one season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Chicago Bulls during the 1972–73 season
  • Jane Russell (1921-2011), American film actress born in Bemidji, Minnesota, one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s; she made her first film role in Howard Hughes' The Outlaw (1943) which included her iconic publicity shot posed on bails of hay
  • Colonel John William Russell (1920-2020), American equestrian who won a bronze medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics, inducted into the United States Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 2001
  • Lance Russell (1926-2017), American professional wrestling announcer and commentator, inducted into the National Wrestling Alliance's Hall of Fame and Hall of Heroes
  • Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), known as Pastor Russell, an American religious leader, founder of what is now known as the Bible Student movement
  • Leon Russell (1942-2016), born Claude Russell Bridges, an American musician and songwriter, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011
  • James C. "Jay" Russell Sr., (1928-2016), American politician, Member of the Missouri House of Representatives (1962-1988)
  • Richard Lion Russell (1924-2015), American finance writer, perhaps best known for his newsletter called the Dow Theory Letters that started in 1958
  • Jeanne K. Russell (b. 1950), American actress best known for playing Dennis's playmate, Margaret Wade, in the television series Dennis The Menace (1959-1963)
  • Major-General Henry Dozier Russell (1889-1972), American Commanding General 48th Division (1944-1945) [23]
  • ... (Another 42 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Arrow Air Flight 1285
  • Mr. Ronald C Russell (b. 1963), American Private 1st Class from Portsmouth, Virginia, USA who died in the crash [24]
Empress of Ireland
  • Miss Sarah Mcqueen Russell (1881-1914), Scottish Third Class Passenger from Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [25]
  • Mr. William Russell (1846-1914), Scottish Third Class Passenger from Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [25]
Halifax Explosion
  • Mrs. Clara M  Russell (1877-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who survived the explosion but later died due to injuries [26]
  • Master George  Russell (1913-1917), Canadian resident from Protestant Orphanage, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [26]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. David L Russell (b. 1908), Scottish Musician serving for the Royal Marine Band from Glasgow, Scotland, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [27]
  • Mr. Walter F Russell (b. 1907), English Petty Officer serving for the Royal Navy from Fareham, Hampshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [27]
  • Mr. Leonard W Russell (b. 1916), English Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Tynemouth, Northumberland, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [27]
  • Mr. John A G Russell (b. 1916), English Petty Officer serving for the Royal Navy from Newport, Isle of Wight, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [27]
  • Mr. Charles A Russell (b. 1920), English Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Birmingham, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [27]
HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Arthur Charles Russell, British Chief Stoker, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [29]
HMS Royal Oak
  • William Frederick Edwin Russell (1915-1939), British Joiner 3rd Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [30]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Frederick Russell, English First Waiter from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [31]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Boysie Richard Russell (d. 1912), aged 17, English Saloon Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [32]
SS Newfoundland
  • Mr. Samuel Russell, Newfoundlander from Bonavista, who on the 30th March 1914 he was part of the Seal Crew of the "SS Newfoundland" leaving the ship to intercept the Stephano which took him to the hunting grounds, he disembarked to begin sealing, but was caught in a thickening storm, attempting to return to the Newfoundland he and the 132 crew made camp for two days the sealers were stranded on the ice in a blizzard attempting to return to the ship, he survived
SS Southern Cross
  • Mr. John Russell (1896-1914), Newfoundlander from Harbour Grace who was aboard the "SS Southern Cross" when it is suspected she sank between the 31st March 1914 and early April during the storm with a heavy load of pelts; no survivors were ever found


The Russell 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.


Suggested Readings for the name Russell +

  • Descendants of William Russell of Salem, Mass., 1647 by George Ely Russell.
  • Odyssey of the Barkers and The Russells by Don W. Barker.
  • Long, Long Ago, 1776-1976: a Genealogical Record of the Farris, Wells, Keltner, Wynne, Russell, Roberts Families in America by Harriett Farris Boozer.

  1. ^ Lower, 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. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  7. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  9. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  11. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  12. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  13. ^ 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)
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Ann voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1809 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/ann/1809
  16. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Almorah voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1817 with 180 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/almorah/1817
  17. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/caledonia
  18. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/Dick
  19. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1822
  20. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  21. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 23rd September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  22. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 29th September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  23. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2014, March 26) Henry Russell. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Russell/Henry_Dozier/USA.html
  24. ^ American War Memorials - Flight 1285. (Retrieved 2016, August 24) . Retrieved from http://www.uswarmemorials.org/html/monument_details.php?SiteID=317&MemID=550
  25. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  26. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  27. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  28. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  29. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  30. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  31. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  32. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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