John Russell, earl, an English statesman, third son of the sixth duke of Bedford, born in London, Aug. 18, 1792. He was educated at the university of Edinburgh, went abroad in 1809, and travelled in Spain and Portugal, the English being at that time shut out from most of the continental countries, and witnessed some of the most important incidents of the peninsular war. In 1813 he was elected to parliament as a whig for the family borough of Tavistock, and the Liverpool-Castlereagh ministry found in him an uncompromising opponent. At the close of 1819 he began his career as a parliamentary reformer, making annual motions on the subject. In 1826, because of his advocacy of Catholic emancipation, he was defeated in the parliamentary election in the county of Huntingdon, but was chosen for Bandon in Ireland. In 1828 he carried the repeal of the test and corporation acts through parliament, and in 1829 voted for the successful Catholic emancipation act. In the Grey ministry, formed in November, 1830, Lord John was paymaster of the forces, and took the lead in the house of commons in support of the reform bill, which he introduced in March, 1831. The bill, with some changes, was carried, and Lord John was chosen member for South Devon in 1832. He went out with the Melbourne ministry in 1834; but in 1835 he returned to office, being then appointed secretary of state for the home department, which place he held till 1839, when he became secretary of state for war and the colonies.
During the six years that followed Lord Melbourne's restoration to power, Lord John Russell was really the chief member of the ministry; and he vigorously carried various reform measures, though the whigs had not a constant majority in the commons, and there was a majority against them in the house of peers. He ceased to be minister on Aug. 30, 1841, when the second Peel ministry succeeded to that of Melbourne. For five years he was chief of the opposition, but in 1846, on the breaking up of the tory party, he became prime minister, holding the office of first lord of the treasury. In 1852 he was defeated on the militia question and resigned; but when the Aberdeen ministry was formed, at the close of the year, he became secretary of state for foreign affairs, which office he soon exchanged for that of lord president of the council. He left the Aberdeen ministry in January, 1855, and shortly afterward took the office of colonial secretary in the Palmers-ton ministry. He was sent as British plenipotentiary to take part in the Vienna conference, which was intended to put an end to the Crimean war; but his conduct not being approved by the English public, he withdrew from the cabinet, July 16. In 1859 he was appointed secretary of state for foreign affairs.
In July, 1861, he was elevated to the house of peers with the title of Earl Russell of Kingston-Russell. The unfriendly tone assumed toward the United States in the Trent affair, the short participation of England in the Mexican expedition, the interference by a note addressed to Russia in favor of Poland in 1863, and a friendly attitude toward Denmark during the Schleswig-Holstein war are among the salient features of his management of foreign affairs during this period. After the death of Lord Palmerston in 1865, Earl Russell for the second time became prime minister, with Mr. Gladstone as chancellor of the exchequer; but differences arising between the leaders of the liberal party on the subject of reform led to a vote in parliament hostile to the ministry, which resigned in June, 1866. Since that time Earl Russell has been an unofficial supporter of liberal measures in the house of lords. In 1869 he introduced a bill authorizing the conferring of life peerages, and in 1870 moved for a commission on the relation between the mother country and the colonies.
He has published a "Life of William Lord Russell" (1819); "Don Carlos, a Drama" (1822); "Essay on the History of the English Government and Constitution" (1823; new ed., 1865); "Memoirs of the Affairs of Europe from the Peace of Utrecht" (2 vols. 4to, 1824-'9; vol. i. republished as "History of the principal States of Europe, from the Peace of Utrecht," 2 vols. 8vo, 1826); "Establishment of the Turks in Europe " (1828); "Causes of the French Revolution" (1832); "Correspondence of John, fourth Duke of Bedford, with an Introduction" (3 vols. 8vo, 1842-'6); "Memorials and Correspondence of Charles James Fox" (4 vols., 1853-'7); "Life and Times of Charles James Fox" (3 vols., 1859-'66); "Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore" (8 vols., 1852-6); "Selections from the Speeches of Earl Russell, 1817 to 1841, and from Despatches, 1859 to 1865, with Introductions" (2 vols., 1870); "Rise and Progress of the Christian Religion in the West of Europe" (1873); and "Recollections and Suggestions, 1813-'73" (1875). He has been twice mar-ried: in 1835 to Adelaide, widow of Lord Rib-blesdale, and in 1841 to Lady Frances Anna Maria, daughter of the earl of Minto.