Edward Russell, earl of Orford - Encyclopedia

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EDWARD RUSSELL ORFORD, EARL OF (1653-1727), British admiral, was born in 1653, the son of Edward Russell, a younger brother of the 1st duke of Bedford. He was one of the first gentleman officers of the navy regularly bred to the sea. In 1671 he was named lieutenant of the "Advice" at the age of eighteen, captain in the following year. He continued in active service against the Dutch in the North Sea in 1672-73, and in the Mediterranean in the operations against the Barbary Pirates with Sir John Narborough and Arthur Herbert, afterwards earl of Torrington, from 1676 to 1682. In 1683 he ceased to be employed, and the reason must no doubt be looked for in the fact that all members of the Russell family had fallen into disfavour with the king, after the discovery of William, Lord Russell's connexion with the Rye House Plot. The family had a private revenge to take which sharpened their sense of the danger run by British liberties from the tyranny of King James II. Throughout the negotiations preceding the revolution of 1688 Edward Russell appears acting on behalf and in the name of the head of this great Whig house, which did so much to bring it about, and profited by it so enormously in purse and power. He signed the invitation which William of Orange insisted on having in writing in order to commit the chiefs of the opposition to give him open help. Edward Russell's prominence at this crisis was of itself enough to account for his importance after the Revolution. When the war began with France in 1689, he served at first under the earl of Torrington. But during 1690, when that admiral avowed his intention of retiring to the Gunfleet, and of leaving the French in command of the Channel, Russell was one of those who condemned him most fiercely. In December 1690 he succeeded Torrington, and during 1691 he cruised without meeting the French under Tourville, who made no attempt to meet him. At this time Russell, like some of the other extreme Whigs, was discontented with the moderation of William of Orange and had entered into negotiations with the exiled court, partly out of spite, and partly to make themselves safe in case of a restoration. But he was always ready to fight the French, and in 1692 he defeated Tourville in the battle called La Hogue, or Barfleur. Russell had Dutch allies with him, and they were greatly superior in number, but the chief difficulty encountered was in the pursuit, which Russell conducted with great resolution. His utter inability to work with the Tories, with whom William III. would not quarrel altogether, made his retirement imperative for a short time. But in 1694 he was appointed to the command of the fleet which, taking advantage of the inability of the king of France to maintain a great fleet in the Channel from want of money, followed the French into the Mediterranean, confined them to Toulon for the rest of the war, and co-operated with the Spanish armies in Catalonia. He returned in 16 9 5, and in 1697 was created earl of Orford. For the rest of his life he filled posts of easy dignity and emolument, and died on the 26th of November 1727. He married his cousin, Mary Russell; but his title became extinct on his death without issue.

See Charnock, Biog. Na y . i. 354; Campbell's Lives of the Admirals, ii. 317. (D. H.)

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