Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford

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The Duke of Bedford
Arms of the Duke of Bedford.svg
Arms of the Duke of Bedford
Born (1888-12-21)21 December 1888
Died 9 October 1953(1953-10-09) (aged 64)
Title Duke of Bedford
Tenure 27 August 1940 – 9 October 1953
Other titles 12th Marquess of Tavistock
16th Earl of Bedford
16th Baron Russell
14th Baron Russell of Thornhaugh
12th Baron Howland
Successor John Russell, 13th Duke
Spouse(s) Louisa Crommelin Roberta Jowitt Whitwell
Issue John Ian Robert Russell
Daphne Crommelin Russell
Hugh Hastings Russell
Parents Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford
Mary du Caurroy Tribe

Hastings William Sackville Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford (21 December 1888 – 9 October 1953) was the son of Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford and his wife Mary Du Caurroy Tribe, DBE, RRC, FLS, the aviator and ornithologist.[1]

Educated at Eton College, he graduated from Balliol College, Oxford with a Master of Arts (M.A.). In November 1914 he married Louisa Crommelin Roberta Jowitt Whitwell; the couple had three children:

A keen naturalist, he 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.[3]

He gained the rank of Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, but never fought in the First World War owing to ill health. His subsequent advocacy of pacifism during the 1930s, and his attempt to mediate a truce in the Second World War by visiting the German legation in Dublin, led to his name being placed on a list of persons to be arrested in the event of a German invasion [1]. He went on to be patron of the British People's Party based in Covent Garden, an anti-war party that was accused of having fascist sympathies. Despite this, he contributed articles on Social Credit and pacifism to Guy Aldred's journal, The Word, between 1940 and his death.[4] 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. His cohort included John Beckett, a former Labour Member of Parliament whom other fascist groups complained siphoned away his monies, which could have been spent on more worthy causes.

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.

He 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,[5] but his elder son suggested it may have been deliberately self-inflicted.[citation needed]


  1. Obituary:Duchess Of Bedford The Times (London, England), Monday, 29 March 1937; pg. 12; Issue 47644
  2. "NOTICES UNDER THE TRUSTEE ACT 1925 , s . 27". THE LONDON GAZETTE , Ist SEPTEMBER 1992. Retrieved 12 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Stevens, Keith (1998). Naturalist, Author, Artist, Explorer and Editor. Hong Kong Branch Royal Asiatic Society.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Caldwell, John Taylor (1988), Come Dungeons Dark: The Life and Times of Guy Aldred, Glasgow Anarchist, p.234 ISBN 0-946487-19-7
  5. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value). (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

External links

Peerage of England
Preceded by
Herbrand Russell
Duke of Bedford
Succeeded by
Ian Russell