Bedford, John Russell, 4th duke of
(1710–71). Succeeding to one of the wealthiest dukedoms in Britain
in 1732, Bedford developed a political following which made him a valuable catch for any ministry. He served as 1st lord of the Admiralty (1744–8) and as southern secretary (1748–51), resigning after lengthy bickering with Newcastle
. Bedford returned to office in 1757 and was lord-lieutenant of Ireland
until 1761. In September 1762 he went to Paris
as ambassador responsible for the peace negotiations and signed the resultant treaty in February 1763. After a brief estrangement from administration, he joined the Grenville
ministry as lord president in September 1763. Thereafter his followers often acted with those of Grenville, fully supporting a hard-line attitude towards the American colonies. Following protracted negotiations in 1767 the Bedfordites entered the Grafton
ministry; the duke himself, though approving the junction, was in poor health and chose not to accept office. Bedford's life was conterminous with the era of ‘personal parties’ and the office-hungry Bedfordites were criticized, even by contemporaries, as a faction motivated principally by self-interest.