RUSSELL, Sir Thomas (c.1520-74), of Strensham and Witley, Worcs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. c.1520, o.s. of Sir John Russell of Strensham by Edith, da. of Sir Thomas Unton of Wadley, Berks. educ. G. Inn 1544. m. (1) by 1544, Frances, da. and coh. of Sir Roger Cholmley, 1s. John II 1da.; (2) Margaret, da. of William Lygon of Madresfield, Worcs., 1s. Kntd. suc. fa. 15 Aug. 1556.

Offices Held

J.p. Worcs. bef. 1555, q. by 1562, sheriff 1551-2, 1559-60, 1569-70, commr. musters, custos rot. by 1573; supervisor or surveyor, lands of bp. of Worcester by 1564; steward, manor of Martley by 1570; of lands late of Pershore and Great Malvern abbeys, Worcs. at d.; commr. to enforce Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy 1572, musters, Worcs. 1573.


Of a family established at Strensham by the end of the thirteenth century, Russell was a little over 21 when first elected for the county. References to him for Elizabeth’s reign are almost entirely from official sources, such as the description of him as a favourer of true religion in 1564, and his being asked to ‘take care in the good assessing’ of the Worcestershire subsidy in 1565. The only domestic incident found was his acceptance of an invitation, in December 1561, to be godfather to Edwin Sandys II, son of the bishop of Worcester. During the 1571 Parliament he is mentioned once as being put on a committee the business of which does not appear.

A few days before his death on 9 Apr. 1574, Russell made his will. After a lengthy religious preamble, arrangements were made for the disposal of the non-entailed land. Russell’s wife, the executrix (who later married Henry Berkeley II) was to administer a legacy for the marriage of 20 poor maidens which his father-in-law Sir Roger Cholmley had asked him to supervise. Another clause concerned a promise by Ralph Sheldon to pay £550 on the marriage of his eldest daughter Elizabeth to Russell’s elder son John, who had been brought up in the 2nd Earl of Bedford’s household. There were generous bequests to retainers, including two years’ wages to the ‘gentlemen and yeomen servants’, and to Martha Sheldon, in consideration of her long service, £20 towards her marriage. ‘Old Humphrey’ was ‘to have his finding with my wife during his life’. The will also contained a schedule of plate, some of it formerly Sir Roger Cholmley’s, kept in ‘the tower at Strensham’.

C142/108/128, 172/163; VCH Worcs. iv. 203-4; Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 119; PCC 17 Ketchyn, 8 Pyckering; SP12/93; Cam. Misc. ix(3), pp. 1, 4, 5; Lansd. 8, f. 81; 56, f. 168 seq.; Habington’s Worcs. (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), ii. 196; CPR, 1557-8, p. 337; 1560-3, p. 380; 1569-72, pp. 440 seq.; 1572-5, p. 243; CSP Dom.1547-80, p. 460; Nash, Worcs. ii. 222; CJ, i. 93.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.