Ian Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford

John Ian Robert Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford (24 May 1917 – 25 October 2002), styled Lord Howland until 1940 and Marquess of Tavistock between 1940 and 1953, was a British peer and writer. With J. Chipperfield he founded Woburn Safari Park and was the first Duke to open to the public the family seat, Woburn Abbey, which houses a large gallery of European paintings. As with the Duke of Rutland's Belvoir Castle, Woburn is in the county after which the title is named.

The Duke of Bedford
Portrait taken by Allan Warren
Member of the House of Lords
as Duke of Bedford
In office
9 October 1953  11 November 1999
Preceded byHastings Russell
Succeeded byHouse of Lords Act 1999
Personal details
Born(1917-05-24)24 May 1917
St George Hanover Square, London, England[1]
Died25 October 2002(2002-10-25) (aged 85)
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Clare Gwendolen Hollway
(m. 1939; died 1945)

Lydia Lyle
(m. 1947; div. 1960)

ChildrenHenry Robin Ian Russell, 14th Duke of Bedford
Rudolf Russell
Francis Hastings Russell
ParentsHastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford
Louisa Crommelin Roberta Jowitt Whitwell

Background and education

Russell was the son of Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford, and his wife, Louisa. He had a very strained relationship with his father and grandfather, who during his early years refused to give him the allowance he felt would be appropriate for a future Duke; his father eventually tied up most of the Bedford fortune in trust so that he could not borrow against it.[2]

The 13th Duke was known in his youth as Ian, with the courtesy title Lord Howland. His father succeeded to the dukedom in 1940, and Lord Howland acquired the courtesy title Marquess of Tavistock.


Russell started his career as a rent collector in 1938, in Stepney. He then joined the Coldstream Guards in 1939 and fought in the Second World War between 1939 and 1940, but left the army after being invalided. He then turned to journalism and became a reporter for the Daily Express in 1940. He published:

  • A Silver-Plated Spoon (1959)
  • The Duke of Bedford's Book of Snobs (1965)
  • The Flying Duchess (1968)
  • How to Run a Stately Home (1971)

Russell was one of the few UK owners of a brand new 1958 Edsel Citation 4 door sedan motorcar, which he purchased soon after its US launch in September 1957 and was registered 1 MMC. Its current whereabouts are unknown. He was the first Duke of Bedford to open Woburn Abbey to the public, a move that alienated him from many other peers.[3] In 1962, he appeared as himself in the British comedy film The Iron Maiden, scenes in which were filmed at Woburn.

He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1985.[4]


Russell had three duchesses. He married Clare Gwendolen (née Bridgman) Hollway (1903–1945) on 6 April 1939. She died of an overdose. They had two children:

On 13 February 1947, he married Lydia (17 October 1917 – 25 July 2006),[5] daughter of John Yarde-Buller, 3rd Baron Churston and Denise (née Orme); this duchess was the widow of Capt. Ian Archibald de Hoghton Lyle (1909–1942), heir to a baronetcy, by which marriage she brought to Woburn two step-children. They divorced in 1960 but had a child:

  • Lord Francis Hastings Russell (b. 27 February 1950)

He married French divorcée and trailblazing female producer Nicole Milinaire (29 June 1920 – 7 September 2012) on 4 September 1960; they had no issue.

Bedford and his last duchess became tax exiles in 1974, eventually settling in Monaco. He died in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2002.[6]


  1. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
  2. John Russell, A Silver-Plated Spoon (1959).
  3. John Russell, The Duke of Bedford's Book of Snobs 87 (1965).
  4. Vanity Fair Archived 1 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Owens, Mitchell (20 August 2006). "Lydia, Duchess of Bedford, 88, Pioneer in Noble-Tourism, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  6. "Obituary: Nicole, Duchess of Bedford". The Daily Telegraph. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Hastings Russell
Duke of Bedford
Succeeded by
Robin Russell
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