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Family spelling variants includes Rozzell, Rossell, Rowsell, Russel, Russill, Rousel, Rousell, Roussel, Roussell

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RUSSELL Family History


This is one of the most famous and noble names in British history since the Conquest of 1066, when it was a Norman introduction. The name is a diminutive patronymic and means "the son of Red", from the Old French "Rous", red, a nickname for someone with red hair, and "-el", little. In the National Biography there are over sixty entries for Russell, the Dukes of Bedford being Russells, while Charles Russell 1832 - 1900, the Lord Chief Justice of England was Baron Russell of Killowen. The third Earl Russell is better known as the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)...


Russell (Variants: Roussell, Roussel, Rousell, Rousel, Russill, Russel, Rowsell, Rossell, Rozzell)

English, Scottish and Irish nickname, relationship name from a diminutive of Anglo-Norman French rous(e) ‘red, reddish’, used either as a personal name or someone with red hair or a ruddy complexion. Americanised spelling of German Rüssel, from a pet form of any of the various personal names formed with the Old High German element hrod ‘renown’.

The noted Scottish author George F. Black believed that while not discounting the Norman influence, he felt the name was "most probably a diminutive of rous, 'red'," and that Chaucer's reference to 'Daun Russel' in Nonne Prestes Tale was "alluding to his reddish color."

Early bearers of the surname include: Ralph Russel, 1115 in Winton Domesday (Hants); John Roussel, 1297 in Earldom of Cornwall Accounts; Ellen Russell, 1538 in IGI (Haddon, Hunts); John Russell, 1539 in IGI (Northam, Devon); Mary Russell, 1539 in IGI (Saint Matthew Friday Street, London).

John Russell, English convict, was transported aboard the "Asia" on 1 April 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia.

In 1891, the general population for the surname was widespread across England and Wales 28,661 with a further 7,532 in Scotland. Kent was reported as a top county for the surname with 2,613 occurrences. Deptford St Pauls was reported as a top parish with 207 occurrences.

In 1881, a less common occupation for the Russell family was Coal Miner. The most common Russell occupation in the UK was Agricultural Labourer. Agricultural Labourer, Farmer and Labourer were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Russell.

Geographically, it is a locative name for a town - Rusthall, Kent.

Gerald Russell (1928 – 2018) was a British psychiatrist who published the first description of bulimia nervosa and subsequently has Russell's sign named after him. The sign is distinguished with callus on the knuckles or back of the hand.

The noted Anna Russell (1911 – 2006), was an English-Canadian singer and vocalist comedian who was well known for her concerts playing comical musical sketches on a piano. She was also recognised for her parody How to Write Your Own Gilbert and Sullivan Opera and The Ring of the Nibelungs (An Analysis) – a humorous 22-minute synopsis of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen .

1881, 1891 Census

1881 Census in Kent

Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016

1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain

1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain


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my grandfather's original name was Lester Russell before being adopted and becoming Michael Dillon. I wish to delve deeper into the Russell family that came to America. Any information would be appreciated. my grandfather's from Cincinnati Ohio born 1955. thank you.


Looking for Info for Robert Russell, no spouse known, born 1708, Presbyterian, emigrated 1745, two sons: James, born 1733; William, born 1741 (both sons born in Ireland). James married a Jane Carson, William married a Jeannette Roberson. Robert and James settled in Rocky River South Carolina, U.S.


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