Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford

Hastings William Sackville Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford (21 December 1888 – 9 October 1953) was a British peer. He was born at Cairnsmore House, Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire the son of Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford and his wife Mary Du Caurroy Tribe, DBE, RRC, FLS, the aviator and ornithologist.[1] He was noted for both his career as a naturalist and for his involvement in far-right politics.

The Duke of Bedford
Russell arms
Arms of the Duke of Bedford
Born21 December 1888
Cairnsmore House, Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire
Died9 October 1953 (aged 64)
TitleDuke of Bedford
Tenure27 August 1940 – 9 October 1953
Other titles12th Marquess of Tavistock
16th Earl of Bedford
16th Baron Russell
14th Baron Russell of Thornhaugh
12th Baron Howland
SuccessorJohn Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford
Spouse(s)Louisa Crommelin Roberta Jowitt Whitwell
IssueJohn Ian Robert Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford
Daphne Crommelin Russell
Hugh Hastings Russell
ParentsHerbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford
Mary du Caurroy Tribe

Early life

Educated at Eton College, Russell graduated from Balliol College, Oxford with a Master of Arts (M.A.). He gained the rank of Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, but never fought in the First World War owing to ill health.


A keen naturalist, Russell arranged a 1906 expedition to Shaanxi, China to collect zoological specimens for the British Museum, during which Arthur de Carle Sowerby discovered a new species of jerboa.[2] He was also closely involved in his father's ultimately successful efforts to preserve the Père David's deer, a Chinese species that was close to extinction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[3]

He was also an ornithologist, specialising in parrots and budgerigars, to whom he would feed chocolates, although his eldest son was often reduced to eating them; his other pets included a spider to whom, according to Nancy Mitford's The English Aristocracy, he would regularly feed roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

While known as the Marquess of Tavistock, he wrote "Parrots and Parrot-like Birds". He was a founder member and first President of the Foreign Bird League. He was successful in breeding many species, including the Tahiti Blue Lorikeet and Ultramarine Lorikeet. Both of these are recognised as the world's first breedings in captivity. The Marquess disposed of his birds upon succeeding to the Dukedom in 1939.


Pre-war activity

Russell was active in politics for much of his life. In his youth he flirted with socialism and even communism but soon abandoned these in favour of Social Credit, establishing his own National Credit Association to promote the ideology.[4] He addressed the membership of the New Party about Social Credit but the scheme was not taken up by the group.[4] He was also a leading figure in the Economic Reform Club.[5] He admired the growing fascist movements in Europe and, despite his devotion to pacifism, wrote in the New English Weekly in support of the Anschluss in 1938.[6]

Russell was a founder of the British People's Party (BPP) in 1939[7] and used his money to bankroll the group from then on.[8] The driving force behind the BPP was John Beckett, a former Labour Member of Parliament who had also been a member of the British Union of Fascists and the National Socialist League. According to his son Francis Beckett, John Beckett had little real devotion to the unassuming and uncharismatic Russell but was attracted to the BPP as much by the Marquis' money as any real conviction, Beckett himself being virtually penniless at the time.[9]

During the war

Russell was friendly with Barry Domvile, the founder of the Link[10] and had been close to that semi-clandestine group since its establishment in 1937.[11] In the early months of the Second World War he attended several meetings of leading figures on the far right that Domvile had organised, although he was largely unenthusiastic about this initiative.[12]

Russell chaired the British Council for Christian Settlement in Europe, established immediately after the declaration of war and featuring an eclectic melange of fascists, fascist sympathisers and committed pacifists.[13] He was a committed pacifist across the board, rejecting war entirely, in contrast to Beckett and several other leading members of the group who were opposed specifically to war with Nazi Germany rather than to war as a concept.[14] During the early days of the war, Russell was also courted by the British Union of Fascists (BUF), who had changed their name to the British Union, and held meetings with Neil Francis Hawkins, the group's Director-General.[15] He had earlier been a sometime member of the January Club, a BUF-linked discussion group.[16] He had grown close to BUF member Robert Gordon-Canning, and under his influence even came to write for the BUF's newspaper Action.[17] Nonetheless, in private BUF leader Oswald Mosley dismissed Russell as "woolly-headed".[18]

At the start of 1940 he corresponded with the Home Secretary Sir John Anderson after obtaining a document from the German legation in Dublin that Russell claimed contained Adolf Hitler's draft proposals for peace.[12] Following the obtaining of this document by Russell, on 13 March 1940 Domvile organised a meeting for both men, Mosley and Imperial Fascist League (IFL) veteran Bertie Mills to discuss their next course of action. At this meeting Mosley proposed the creation of a "Peace Government" to be led by David Lloyd George, although nothing more came of this initiative as the government soon launched a crackdown on far-right activity.[19]

A number of leading figures were interned under Defence Regulation 18B although Russell was not among their number.[20] Russell's nobility helped to ensure that he avoided arrest[21] along with other far-right leaning noblemen such as the Lord Lymington, the Duke of Buccleuch, the Duke of Westminster, the Earl of Mar, Lord Brocket, Lord Queenborough and others.[22] His personal links to Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax also helped to ensure his freedom.[23] He wrote a series of letter to Halifax in the early days of the war expressing his admiration for Hitler and urging him to use his influence to bring the war to a swift conclusion.[24] Russell was, however, placed on the "Suspect List" by MI5 as some within that group suspected that, in the event of a successful Nazi invasion of the UK, Russell might have ended up as Governor of the territory or even Prime Minister of a puppet government.[25]

Beckett however was among those held, and Russell attempted to intervene on his behalf, assisting Beckett's common-law wife Anne Cutmore in a letter-writing campaign to secure his release.[26] When Beckett was released Cutmore again asked Russell, by then Duke of Bedford, for help as they were penniless and he agreed to allow them to live in a cottage in the village of Chenies, at the time entirely owned by the Duchy.[27] He would continue to underwrite the Becketts until his death in 1953, even purchasing a large house in Rickmansworth for the family's use in 1949.[28]


Russell re-established the BPP in 1945, the group having been in abeyance during the latter years of wartime.[29] Party activity was fairly limited and frequently restricted to irregular party functions hosted at the Becketts' house in Rickmansworth.[30] Increasingly associated with the anti-Semitism espoused by leading BPP figures, Russell stated that the figure of six million Jewish deaths in the Holocaust was "grossly exaggerated" and argued that a figure of 300,000 concentration camp deaths, drawn from all those interned rather than just Jews, was more likely.[31] He also denied that any concentration camp had a gas chamber, claiming they were just showers.[31] He also funded the publication of Failure at Nuremberg, a pamphlet authored by the "BPP Research Department" (effectively Beckett, A.K. Chesterton and former IFL member Harold Lockwood) which denounced the Nuremberg trials of leading Nazis as a series of show trials that started from the basis of presumed guilt on the part of the defendants.[31] Unusually he also contributed articles on Social Credit and pacifism to anarchist Guy Aldred's journal, The Word, between 1940 and his death.[32]

Personal life

In November 1914, he married Louisa Crommelin Roberta Jowitt Whitwel; the couple had three children:

Russell was a committed Evangelical Christian[29] and vegetarian.[4] An austere man who detested alcohol, tobacco and gambling, he was even sued by his wife in the 1930s for "restoration of conjugal rights" after the pair became estranged. The case was dismissed after much press coverage with his wife's description of him as "the most cold, mean and conceited person" she had ever known being widely reported.[34] Following his death the sentiments were largely echoed by his eldest son - who shared none of his father's political views and had a difficult relationship with him - who stated "my father was the loneliest man I ever knew, incapable of giving or receiving love, utterly self-centred and opinionated. He loved birds, animals, peace, monetary reform, the park and religion. He also had a wife and three children".[35]


Russell died in 1953, aged 64, as a result of a gunshot wound in the grounds of his Endsleigh estate in Devon. The coroner recorded his death as accidentally inflicted,[36] but his elder son suggested it may have been deliberately self-inflicted.


  • Francis Beckett, The Rebel Who Lost His Cause — The Tragedy of John Beckett MP, London: Allison and Busby, 1999
  • Stephen Dorril, Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley & British Fascism, London: Penguin Books, 2007
  • Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983
  • Martin Pugh, 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts!': Fascists and Fascism in Britain between the Wars, London: Pimlico, 2006
  • Richard Thurlow, Fascism in Britain: From Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts to the National Front, London: IB Tauris, 1998


  1. ^ Obituary:Duchess Of Bedford The Times (London, England), Monday, 29 March 1937; pg. 12; Issue 47644
  2. ^ Stevens, Keith (1998). Naturalist, Author, Artist, Explorer and Editor. Hong Kong Branch Royal Asiatic Society.
  3. ^ Goodall, J; Maynard, T; Hudson, G (2009). "Milu or Père David's Deer, China". Hope for Animals and their World: How Endangered Species are being Rescued from the Brink. New York: Grand Central Publishing. pp. 39–46. ISBN 978-0446581776.
  4. ^ a b c Dorril, p. 205
  5. ^ Griffiths, p.351
  6. ^ Griffiths, p. 295
  7. ^ Thurlow, p. 172
  8. ^ Beckett, p. 157
  9. ^ Beckett, pp. 158-159
  10. ^ Thurlow, p. 180
  11. ^ Dorril, p. 424
  12. ^ a b Thurlow, p. 181
  13. ^ Beckett, p. 160-161
  14. ^ Beckett, p. 170
  15. ^ Thurlow, p. 185
  16. ^ Pugh, p. 146
  17. ^ Dorril, p. 482
  18. ^ Dorril, p. 484
  19. ^ Thurlow, p. 182
  20. ^ Thurlow, p. 223
  21. ^ Beckett, p. 167
  22. ^ Pugh, p. 306
  23. ^ Pugh, p. 307
  24. ^ Griffiths, p. 372
  25. ^ Dorril, p. 515
  26. ^ Beckett, p. 184
  27. ^ Beckett, p. 186
  28. ^ Beckett, p. 191
  29. ^ a b Macklin, p. 123
  30. ^ Beckett, p. 192
  31. ^ a b c Macklin, p. 124
  32. ^ Caldwell, John Taylor (1988), Come Dungeons Dark: The Life and Times of Guy Aldred, Glasgow Anarchist, p.234. ISBN 0-946487-19-7
  33. ^ "NOTICES UNDER THE TRUSTEE ACT 1925 , s . 27". THE LONDON GAZETTE , Ist SEPTEMBER 1992. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  34. ^ Beckett, pp. 194-195
  35. ^ Beckett, p. 194
  36. ^ "Russell, Hastings William Sackville". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/58844.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

External links

Peerage of England
Preceded by
Herbrand Russell
Duke of Bedford
Succeeded by
Ian Russell
Adam Marshall Diston

Adam Marshall Diston (1893–1956; born in Scotland) was a journalist for the Sunday Dispatch and ghostwriter for Winston Churchill. He had 'close affinities' to Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. He had a military background, serving in a Scottish regiment from 1914-1918.

Ben Greene

Ben Greene (28 December 1901 – October 1978) was a British Labour Party politician and pacifist. He was interned during the Second World War because of his fascist associations and appealed to the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords against his detention. In the leading case of Liversidge v. Anderson the Law Lords declined to interfere with ministerial discretion on matters of national security and thus refused to review his detention.

British Union of Fascists

The British Union of Fascists, or BUF, was a fascist political party in the United Kingdom formed in 1932 by Oswald Mosley. It changed its name to the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists in 1936 and, in 1937, to British Union. It was finally disbanded in 1940, after it was proscribed by the British government following the start of the Second World War.

The BUF emerged in 1932 from the British far-right, following the electoral defeat of its antecedent, the New Party, in the 1931 general election. The BUF's foundation was initially met with popular support, and it attracted a sizeable following. The press baron Lord Rothermere was a notable early supporter. As the party became increasingly radical, however, support declined. The Olympia Rally of 1934, in which a number of anti-Fascist protestors were attacked by the paramilitary wing of the BUF, the Fascist Defence Force, isolated the party from much of its following. The party's embrace of Nazi-style anti-semitism in 1936 led to increasingly violent clashes with opponents, notably the 1936 Battle of Cable Street in London's East End. The Public Order Act 1936, which banned political uniforms and responded to increasing political violence, had a particularly strong effect on the BUF whose supporters were known as "Blackshirts" after the uniforms they wore.

Growing British hostility towards Nazi Germany, with which the British press persistently associated the BUF, further contributed to the decline of the movement's membership. It was finally banned by the British government in 1940 after the start of the Second World War, amid suspicion that its remaining supporters might form a pro-Nazi "fifth column". A number of prominent BUF members were arrested and interned under Defence Regulation 18B.

Duchess of Bedford

Duchess of Bedford is a title given to the wife of the Duke of Bedford, an extant title in the peerage of England which was first created in 1414.

Endsleigh Cottage

Endsleigh Cottage (now "Endsleigh House") is a country house near Milton Abbot, about 6 miles NW of Tavistock, Devon in England. It is a Grade I listed building. The gardens are Grade I listed in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. The house was built in the early 19th century for the Duke of Bedford. Today, it is a hotel.

English Defence League

The English Defence League (EDL) is a far-right, Islamophobic organisation in the United Kingdom. A social movement and pressure group that employs street demonstrations as its main tactic, the EDL presents itself as a single-issue movement opposed to Islamism and Islamic extremism, although its rhetoric and actions target Islam and Muslims more widely. Founded in 2009, its heyday lasted until 2011, after which it entered a decline. It is presently chaired by Tim Ablitt.

Established in London, the EDL coalesced around several football hooligan firms protesting the public presence of the small Salafi Islamist group Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah in Luton, Bedfordshire. Tommy Robinson, a former member of the British National Party (BNP), soon became its de facto leader. The organisation grew swiftly, holding demonstrations across England and often clashing with anti-fascist protesters from Unite Against Fascism and other groups, who deemed it a racist organisation victimising British Muslims. The EDL also established a strong social media presence on Facebook and YouTube. Moving towards electoral politics, it established formal links with the far-right British Freedom Party, a breakaway from the BNP. The EDL's reputation was damaged in 2011 after supporters were convicted of plotting to bomb mosques and links were revealed with Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Breivik. In 2013 Robinson—supported by the Quilliam think tank—left the group; he claimed it had become too extreme, and established the rival Pegida UK. The group's membership declined significantly following Robinson's departure and various branches declared independence.

Ideologically on the extreme-right or far-right of British politics, the EDL is part of the international counter-jihad movement. Officially, it presents itself as being opposed to Islamism, Islamic extremism, and jihadism, although its rhetoric repeatedly conflates these with Islam and Muslims more broadly. Rejecting the idea that Muslims can truly be English, the EDL presents Islam as an intolerant, primitive threat seeking to take over Europe. Political scientists and other commentators have characterised this Islamophobic stance as culturally racist. Both online and at its events, EDL members have incited violence against Muslims, with supporters carrying out violent acts both at demonstrations and independently. The EDL's broader ideology features nationalism and populism, blaming a perceived decline in English culture on high immigration rates and an uncaring political elite. It distinguished itself from Britain's traditional far-right by rejecting biological racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. Although several of its leaders were previously involved in fascist organisations and some neo-Nazis and other fascists attended EDL events, commentators differ on whether the EDL itself is ideologically fascist or not.

Headed by a small leadership team, the EDL sub-divided into over 90 local and thematic divisions, each with considerable autonomy. Its support base consisted primarily of young, working-class white British men, some from established far-right and football hooligan subcultures. Polls indicated that most UK citizens opposed the EDL, and the group was repeatedly challenged by anti-fascist groups. Many local councils and police forces discouraged EDL marches, citing the high financial cost of policing them, the disruptive influence on community harmony, and the damage caused to counter-terrorism operations.

Football Lads Alliance

The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) is a movement in the United Kingdom founded by John Meighan in 2017. According to The Times, "the movement was set up as a self-proclaimed 'anti-extremist' movement" but has increasingly become associated with far-right politics and far-right activists.The Premier League has warned clubs that "the group is using fans and stadiums to push an anti-Muslim agenda". Concern has also been expressed that the Alliance is "giving cover to the far right" and "uses a secret Facebook page full of violent, racist and misogynistic posts".

Hastings (name)

Hastings is a surname of English and Irish origin, and is used also as a given name.

Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford

Herbrand Arthur Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford (19 February 1858 – 27 August 1940) was an English politician and peer. He was the son of Francis Russell, 9th Duke of Bedford and his wife Lady Elizabeth Sackville-West, daughter of George Sackville-West, 5th Earl De La Warr.

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.

List of University of Oxford people in British public life

This is a list of University of Oxford people in British public life. Many were students at one (or more) of the colleges of the University, and others held fellowships at a college.

This list forms part of a series of lists of people associated with the University of Oxford – for other lists, please see the main article List of University of Oxford people.

List of vegetarians

This is a list of notable people who have adhered to a vegetarian diet at some point during their life. In the cases where a person's vegetarian status is disputed or they no longer adhere to a vegetarian diet, they are categorized as disputed or former.

Louisa Russell, Duchess of Bedford

Louisa Russell, Duchess of Bedford (27 March 1893 – 2 October 1960), formerly Louisa Crommelin Roberta Jowitt Whitwell, was an English noblewoman, the wife of Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford, and mother of the 13th Duke.

She was the daughter of Robert Jowitt Whitwell and his wife Louisa. Jowitt was an academic based at New College, Oxford, and she met the future duke when he was an undergraduate at Balliol. They were married on 21 November 1914, when he was still Marquess of Tavistock and heir to the dukedom. The couple had three children:

John Ian Robert Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford (1917–2002), who married, first, Clare Gwendolen (née Bridgman) Hollway; second, Lydia Lyle, and third, Nicole Schneider. There were children from his first two marriages.

Lady Daphne Crommelin Russell (1920-1991)

Lord Hugh Hastings Russell (1923–2005), who married Rosemary Markby and had children.The Duke of Bedford was an Evangelical Christian who disapproved of drinking, smoking and gambling. Louisa described him as "the most cold, mean and conceited person" she had ever known. After their estrangement in the 1930s, she attempted to sue him for "restoration of conjugal rights", but the case was dismissed after causing a sensation in the press.

The duke was associated with Fascism and supported Oswald Mosley, but was also a pacifist; his younger son, Lord Hugh Russell, was a conscientious objector in the Second World War. The duke died in 1953 and was succeeded by his elder son John.

Mary Russell, Duchess of Bedford

Mary Russell, Duchess of Bedford (26 September 1865 – ca. 22 March 1937) was a British aviator and ornithologist. She was honoured for her work in founding hospitals and working in them during the first world war. She later financed and took part in record breaking flights to Karachi and Cape Town.


Palnure (Scottish Gaelic: Poll an Iùbhair) is a small village in the historical county of Kirkcudbrightshire in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, on the Palnure Burn, just outside Newton Stewart.Cairnsmore House was the birthplace of Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford son of Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford and his wife Mary Du Caurroy Tribe, DBE, RRC, FLS, 'The Flying Duchess ' .He was noted for both his career as a naturalist and for his involvement in far-right politics.

Until 1951 Palnure had a railway station on the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Joint Railway that was closed to all traffic in 1965.

Russell (surname)

Russell also Rossell is a British name some writers claim to be derived from the Anglo-Norman nickname rus[s]el (Modern Norman patronymic Roussel). The nickname was said to be a diminutive in -ell of the Anglo-Norman rous for "red" (Old French ros). In addition, the spelling -ell for the French diminutive suffix -el reflects the will to render the French pronunciation of -el like in other anglicized surnames such as Brunell, Purcell, etc.

The name may also refer to Clan Russell, a Scottish armigerous clan. Historian William Anderson has written that Scottish Russells from Aberdeenshire can trace their ancestry through local parish records, back to a baron Rosel who purchased estates at Aden in Aberdeenshire in 1333.

The first appearance of the Russell form of the name on any official record was William Russell, son of a Ralph de Rosel whose name appears in the Winton Domesday Book of (1107-1128). The Lenton Register named William Russell as Ralph de Rosel's son. (J.H. Wiffen, The Time of the Norman Conquest). The ancestor of the family may originate from le Rozel (Normandy, Cotentin, le Rosel in 1135, de Rosel in 1187).

The last recorded use of the de Rosel form of the name in England in any official document was in a charter by Alain Russell, who held the fief of the church of Donnington in Lincolnshire from his father Robert Russell. In 1258 Alain Russell made a charter bestowing the church of St. Stephen at le Plessis-Grimoult in Normandy to the local parish, in which he named himself Alain de Rosel, showing that he continued to use the older de Rosel form of the name when in France. (J.H. Wiffen, The Time of the Norman Conquest) The Subsidy Roll carried out in 1327 lists 22 land owners named Russell with estates large enough to be taxed, but no one named de Rosel, showing that by 1327 the older de Rosel form of the name was no longer widely used in England.

Sharon Ebanks

Sharon Elizabeth Ebanks (born 1967 or 1968) is a former member of the British National Party and one of the founder members of the New Nationalist Party. In 2006, she was wrongly declared elected to Birmingham City Council.

The Link (UK organization)

The Link was established in July 1937 as an 'independent non-party organisation to promote Anglo-German friendship'. It generally operated as a cultural organisation, although its journal, the Anglo-German Review, reflected the pro-Nazi views of Barry Domvile, and particularly in London it attracted a number of anti-semites and pro-Nazis. At its height the membership numbered around 4,300.

The Link was opposed to war between Britain and Germany, and because of this attracted the support of some British pacifists. When The Link and the Anglo-German Review were included among a number of peace organisations across the political spectrum in the Peace Service Handbook (a publication put out by the Peace Pledge Union), the Daily Telegraph and The News Chronicle published articles accusing the PPU of supporting Nazism. In response, PPU member Stuart Morris wrote to the papers stating there was no connection between the PPU and The Link, and that the former organisation did not support the German demand for colonies or peace at the expense of smaller nations. The PPU also sent a letter to its group leaders dissociating The Link from the PPU, and ceased publishing the Peace Service Handbook.The organisation was investigated by Maxwell Knight, head of counter-subversion in MI5 and future role model for James Bond's boss M. The organisation closed shortly after the start of World War II in 1939.

Barry Domvile was interned in 1940 as someone who might "endanger the safety of the realm".According to Anthony Masters, the Link was allegedly resurrected in 1940 by Ian Fleming, then working in the Department of Naval Intelligence, in order to successfully lure Rudolf Hess (deputy party leader and third in leadership of Germany, after Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring) to Britain in May 1941.

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post-1945 groups
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