Clan Russell History

The surname Russell, or Russel, is believed to have personal origins, rather than territorial. The name in Scots occurs twice with ‘dictus’ and never with the prefix ‘de’, it is thought that it is a diminutive of rous, meaning ‘red’. Infact, in one of Chaucer’s tales, he calls a fox ‘Daun Russel’, referring to its reddish colour.

A charter to the Abbey of Paisley by Walter filius Alani, sometime between 1164 and 1177, was witnessed by Walter Russell. These lands were then granted to the Hospital of Soltre in pure and perpetual alms by John, son of Robert Russel of Doncanlaw, at some point between 1180 and 1220.

In 1259, a composition anent the lands of Threpland was witnessed by Robert Russel, and a different Robert Russel pledged his allegiance in 1296 to Edward I of England by signing the Ragman Roll in Berwick.

Andreas dictus Russell was, in 1310, noted as being bailie of Aberdeen, and in 1376, there is record of a William Russell as tenant in the village of Dalfubill.

On the High Street in Glasgow, Jerome Russell, a Greyfriar, was executed by being burned at the stake for heresy, along with John Kennedy.

Other recorded variations of this surname include Rossell, Rousel, Rusel, Russale, Russall, Russaule, and Rwsall.


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