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). On January 2nd 1634, one John Russell, aged 19 yrs., embarked from London on the ship "Bonaventure" bound for "Virginea"; he was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to enter America. In the modern idiom, the name has seven spelling variations:- Russel, Russell, Russill, Rousel(l) and Roussel(l). Over sixty Coats of Arms have been granted to bearers of this illustrious name, one of the earliest being that of the Russells of Shropshire, which depicts, on a black shield, a fess between six gold martlets. The martlet signifies one who subsists on wings of virtue and merit, having little land to rest upon. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Rousel, which was dated 1115, in the "Winton Rolls of Hampshire", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Administrator", 1100 - 1135. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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