Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Rutland

Russell, Francis, 5th Duke of Bedford

Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford (1765 - 1802), eldest son of Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock (d.1767), by his wife, Elizabeth (d. 1768), daughter of  William Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle, was baptized on 23 July  1765. In January 1771 he succeeded his grandfather as Duke of Bedford, and was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, afterwards spending nearly two years in foreign travel. Regarding Charles James Fox as his political leader, he joined the Whigs in the House of Lords, and became a member of the circle of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV. Having overcome some nervousness and educational defects, he began to speak in the House, and soon became one of the leading debaters in that assembly. He opposed most of the measures brought forward by the ministry of William Pitt, and objected to the grant of a pension to Edmund Burke, an action that drew down upon him a scathing attack from Burke's pen.


Bedford was greatly interested in agriculture. He established a model farm at  Woburn and made experiments with regard to the breeding of sheep. He was a member of the original Board of Agriculture and was the first president of the  Smithfield Club. He died at Woburn on 2 March 1802 and was buried in the family vault at Chenies. The duke never married and was succeeded in the title by his brother, John.



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