The surname Russell is generally
allied to the French Rosel and is probably connected to "rous", red. The
Russells of Aden in Aberdeenshire descend from one Rozel, Rosel or Russell, an English
baron who accompanied Edward III of England at the siege of Berwick and at the Battle of
Halidon Hill in 1333 and decided to settle in Scotland, being designated Russell of that
Ilk. A Robert Russell of Berwickshire paid homage to Edward I in 1296 and Adam Rossel was
received to the King of England's peace in 1321. In 1600 Alexander Russell purchased
property near Elgin and his son Patrick Russell who married a sister of Archbishop Sharp
bought part of the lands of Moncoffer, Banffshire which were sold by his grandson,
Alexander Russell who in turn purchased the land of Aden and other estates in
Aberdeenshire. The Russells of Ashiesteel, Selkirkshire distinguished themselves by their
military achievements; Colonel William Russell led the storming of Manilla and was engaged
in India and his son Major-General Sir James Russell who served in the East Indies.
RUSSELL: Many authorities give the name as originating in France - deriving from 'de Rozel' - and such might be the case for many. However, in Scotland at least, it could equally have derived from some remote ancestor being of 'ruddy' complexion and described as rous, or rousel(red). In the early records the name is usually accompanied by the word 'dictus' (called), and seldom by 'de'(of), - as in William dictus Rousel. The name first appears in Scotland in the 12th century when a Walter Russell witnessed a charter to Paisley Abbey, and many others are recorded before the coming of the Anglo-Norman baron who, by his service to Edward III at Berwick and Halidon Hill (1333), gained a foothold in Scotland. This noble's descendants were later designated Russell of that Ilk and founded many lineages of the name. The Russells of Aden and Montcoffer, who held property in the shires of Aberdeen and Banff, were descended from this man and these territorial associations probably account for some authorities listing them as septs of the once powerful Cummings. In the Borders the name is represented by the Russells of Ashiestiel, a family which provided valiant leaders for the British Army during its campaigns on the Indian sub-continent during the 18th and 19th centuries. Individual Russells have also figured in the Scottish tapestry for, in Glasgow in 1539, a Greyfriar named Jerome Russell, was burned at the stake for heresy and, two centuries later, Alexander Russell and his brother Patrick left their native Edinburgh to gain note as physicians, the former at St Thomas' Hospital in London, the latter during the great plague which swept Aleppo, Italy in 1760. Scottish ancestry should not be claimed on the basis of name alone as many Russells whose families span many centuries of occupation in England and Ireland are quite unrelated. Evidence of genealogical or geographical association should be established before Scottish ancestry is claimed. No chief is presently identified for the name and if clan links are sought, such would only be appropriate to those descended from Russells originating in the North whose traditional affiliation is with the Cummings.
There is a common
misconception that the name Russell comes from the word rousel, often
stated as the diminutive of rous, the old French word for red. This is
incorrect. The diminutive of rous was rousset, not rousel.
More recent research
indicates that the name Russell stems originally from a Norman, Hugh de
Rosel who arrived in England in 1066. His estate in Normandy took its
name Rosel, from the nearby village of that name. Some of his
descendants migrated to Scotland and Ireland, spelling their names
Additional evidence that
the name Russell evolves from Rosel is provided by the fact that the
Aberdeenshire Russells are descendants of an English baron Rosel, who
purchased estates in Aberdeenshire Scotland, after the battle of Halidon
Hill in 1333.
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