Duke of Bedford

Duke of Bedford (named after Bedford, England) is a title that has been created six times (for five distinct people) in the Peerage of England. The first and second creations came in 1414 in favour of Henry IV's third son, John, who later served as regent of France. He was made Earl of Kendal at the same time and was made Earl of Richmond later the same year. The titles became extinct on his death in 1435. The third creation came in 1470 in favour of George Neville, nephew of Warwick the Kingmaker. He was deprived of the title by Act of Parliament in 1478. The fourth creation came 1478 in favour of George, the third son of Edward IV. He died the following year at the age of two. The fifth creation came in 1485 in favour of Jasper Tudor, half-brother of Henry VI and uncle of Henry VII. He had already been created Earl of Pembroke in 1452. However, as he was a Lancastrian, his title was forfeited between 1461 and 1485 during the predominance of the House of York. He regained the earldom in 1485 when his nephew Henry VII came to the throne and was elevated to the dukedom the same year. He had no legitimate children and the titles became extinct on his death in 1495.

Dukedom of Bedford
Argent, a lion rampant gules on a chief sable three escallops of the first (Russell).[1]
Creation date11 May 1694
MonarchWilliam III and Mary II
PeeragePeerage of England
First holderWilliam Russell, 5th Earl of Bedford
Present holderAndrew Russell, 15th Duke
Heir apparentHenry Russell, Marquess of Tavistock
Remainder to1st Duke's heirs male of the body lawfully begotten
Subsidiary titlesMarquess of Tavistock
Earl of Bedford
Baron Russell
Baron Russell of Thornhaugh
Baron Howland
Seat(s)Woburn Abbey

The Russell family currently holds the titles of Earl and Duke of Bedford. John Russell, a close adviser of Henry VIII and Edward VI, was granted the title of Earl of Bedford in 1551, and his descendant William, 5th Earl, was created Duke following the Glorious Revolution.

The subsidiary titles of the Duke of Bedford, all in the Peerage of England, are Marquess of Tavistock (created 1694), Earl of Bedford (1550), Baron Russell, of Cheneys (1539), Baron Russell of Thornhaugh in the County of Northampton (1603), and Baron Howland, of Streatham in the County of Surrey (1695) (and possibly the Barony of Bedford, which was merged into it in 1138, 1366 or 1414). The courtesy title of the Duke of Bedford's eldest son and heir is Marquess of Tavistock.

Every Duke from the 5th Duke onwards is descended from Charles II of England. The family seat is Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire. The private mausoleum and chapel of the Russell Family and the Dukes of Bedford is at St. Michael’s Church in Chenies, Buckinghamshire (photo).[2] The family owns The Bedford Estate in central London.

Dukes of Bedford, first Creation (1414)

Other titles: Earl of Kendal (1414) and Earl of Richmond (1414)

Dukes of Bedford, second Creation (1433)

Other titles: Earl of Kendal (1414) and Earl of Richmond (1414)

Dukes of Bedford, third Creation (1470)

Other titles: Marquess of Montagu (1470) and Baron Montagu (1461)

Dukes of Bedford, fourth Creation (1478)

Dukes of Bedford, fifth Creation (1485)

Other titles: Earl of Pembroke (1452)

Earls of Bedford (1551)

Other titles: Baron Russell (1539)
Other titles (4th Earl onwards): Baron Russell of Thornhaugh (1603)

Dukes of Bedford, sixth Creation (1694)

Other titles: Marquess of Tavistock (1694), Baron Howland (1695), Earl of Bedford (1551), Baron Russell (1538) and Baron Russell of Thornhaugh (1603)

The heir apparent is the present holder's only son Henry Robin Charles Russell, Marquess of Tavistock (b. 2005).

Coat of arms

The heraldic blazon for the coat of arms of the Russell dukedom is: Argent, a lion rampant gules; on a chief sable, three escallops of the first.

The arms show a claim to be descended from the medieval lord Hugh de Rozel, which has been debunked, especially by J. Horace Round in his essay The Rozels of Bedford".[6][7] The family tree on the website of Woburn Abbey only refers to the descent from the provable Stephen Russell in 1394.[8]

The chief from these arms is present in the arms of the modern coat of arms of the London Borough of Camden, because the dukes of Bedford used to own land in the present borough.

arms of John Russell of Kingston Russell, ca 1200
Bertrand Arms 13th Century
with a chief sable, the arms assigned by the heralds to the mythical Hugh de Rosel ca. 1066
Arms of the Duke of Bedford
Supposed lineage of Russell Arms

Line of succession

  1. Henry Robin Charles Russell, Marquess of Tavistock (b. 2005), son of the 15th Duke
  2. Lord James Edward Herbrand Russell (b. 1975), third and youngest son of the 14th Duke
  3. Alexander Charles Robin Russell (b. 2010), eldest son of Lord James
  4. Leo William Caspar Russell (b. 2013), second and youngest son of Lord James[9]
  5. Lord Rudolf Russell (b. 1944), second son of the 13th Duke
  6. Lord Francis Hastings Russell (b. 1950), third and youngest son of the 13th Duke
  7. John Francis Russell (b. 1997), eldest son of Lord Francis
  8. Harry Evelyn Terence Russell (b. 1999), second and youngest son of Lord Francis
  9. Mark Hugh Russell (b. 1960), only son of Lord Hugh Hastings Russell, second and youngest son of the 12th Duke
  10. Laurie Stewart Russell (b. 1990), only son of Mark Russell

Family Tree

Plantagenet/Tudor Family Tree: Dukes of Bedford
King Edward III
John of Gaunt,
1st Duke of Lancaster

King Henry IV
Joan Beaufort
m.(2) 1st Earl of Westmorland
King Henry V
John of Lancaster,
Duke of Bedford

Richard Neville,
5th Earl of Salisbury

Cecily Neville
m. 3rd Duke of York
King Henry VI
r.1422–61, 1470–71)
Catherine of Valois
widow of Henry V
m.(2) Owen Tudor
John Neville,
1st Marquess of Montagu

King Edward IV
r.1461–70, 1471–83)
King Richard III
Edmund Tudor,
1st Earl of Richmond

Jasper Tudor,
Duke of Bedford

George Neville,
Duke of Bedford

King Henry VII
Elizabeth of York
George of York,
Duke of Bedford

Russell Family Tree: Earls and Dukes of Bedford
John Russell,
1st Baron Russell,
1st Earl of Bedford

Francis Russell,
2nd Earl of Bedford

Baron Russell of Thornhaugh
Edward Russell,
Lord Russell
John Russell,
Lord Russell
Sir Francis Russell,
Lord Russell
William, 1st Baron Russell
of Thornhaugh

Edward Russell,
3rd Earl of Bedford

Francis, 2nd Baron Russell
of Thornhaugh,
4th Earl of Bedford

William Russell,
5th Earl of Bedford,
1st Duke of Bedford

Hon. Edward Russell
Earl of Orford
Francis Russell,
Lord Russell
William Russell,
Lord Russell

Attainted & executed for treason
Lady Margaret Russell
Edward Russell,
1st Earl of Orford

Wriothesley Russell,
2nd Duke of Bedford

Wriothesley Russell,
3rd Duke of Bedford

John Russell,
4th Duke of Bedford

Francis Russell,
Marquess of Tavistock

Francis Russell,
5th Duke of Bedford

John Russell,
6th Duke of Bedford

Lord William Russell
Earl Russell
Francis Russell,
7th Duke of Bedford

Lord George William Russell
Lord John Russell,
1st Earl Russell

P.M. 1846–52, 1865–66
Baron Ampthill
William Russell,
8th Duke of Bedford

Francis Charles Hastings Russell,
9th Duke of Bedford

Lord Odo William Leopold Russell,
1st Baron Ampthill

John Russell,
Viscount Amberley

George William Francis Sackville Russell,
10th Duke of Bedford

Herbrand Arthur Russell,
11th Duke of Bedford

Bertrand Arthur William Russell,
3rd Earl Russell

Hastings William Sackville Russell,
12th Duke of Bedford

John Ian Robert Russell,
13th Duke of Bedford

Henry Robin Ian Russell,
14th Duke of Bedford

Andrew Ian Henry Russell,
15th Duke of Bedford

Lord Robin Loel Hastings Russell
Lord James Edward Herbrand Russell
Henry Robin Charles Russell,
Marquess of Tavistock
Alexander Charles Robin Russell
Leo William Caspar Russell

See also


  • Round, J.H. (1901) Studies in Peerage and Family History, A. Constable and Company, London.


  1. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.131
  2. "HERALDRY of the BEDFORD CHAPEL CHENIES". www.middlesex-heraldry.org.uk. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  3. Cracroft – Extinct dukedoms of England Archived 17 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bedford, Earls and Dukes of" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  5. Burke's Peerage & Baronetage
  6. Round, pp. 292–309
  7. Round, J. Horace (1999). "The Rozels of Bedford". The Baronage. The Baronage Press Ltd and Pegasus Associates Ltd. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  8. "Family Tree of the Russells". The Woburn Estate. Woburn Enterprises. 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  9. "Google Groups". groups.google.com. Retrieved 10 April 2018.

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