William Borough

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Lord William Russell, 1639–83, English statesman; younger son of the 1st duke of Bedford. He entered Parliament in 1660. Contempt for the dissolute court and fear of Roman Catholicism and of France led him to join the opposition to Charles II. However, he was prepared to negotiate (1678) with his relative, the marquis de Ruvigny, agent of Louis XIV, for aid to secure the dissolution of Parliament and the overthrow of the earl of Danby. In the excitement over the Popish Plot (1678) he joined the 1st earl of Shaftesbury in demanding the indictment of the duke of York (later James II) and in pressing the bill to exclude him from the succession. With the temporary Whig success he became (1679) a privy councilor, but he was arrested (1683), tried, and convicted of treason for his supposed implication in the Rye House Plot. Executed in 1683, he was exonerated by the reversal of attainder under William III.

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Russell, Lord William (1639–83). Russell, son of the earl of Bedford, entered Parliament in 1660 for the family borough of Tavistock and became a leader of the Shaftesbury Whigs. In 1678 he moved an address asking Charles II to remove his brother James, duke of York, from his counsels and in 1680 he joined in presenting the duke as a notorious papist. He was a strong advocate of the bill to exclude James from the throne. But the court took its revenge. In 1683 Russell was accused of complicity in the Rye House plot to assassinate James and Charles and was beheaded in Lincoln's Inn Fields. After the Glorious Revolution, his services to the Whig cause were recognized in the dukedom granted to his father, the patent of which described Russell as ‘the ornament of his age’. The Complete Peerage, by contrast, called him a ‘canonised ruffian’.

J. A. Cannon

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William Borough, 1536–99, British naval officer. A younger brother of Stephen Borough, William accompanied him on early voyages and was himself a captain for the Muscovy Company. As a naval officer he took part in Sir Francis Drake's attack on Cádiz (1587) and also fought against the Spanish Armada (1588). He wrote accounts of his voyages and a treatise on the variation of the compass and compiled several charts.