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Russell, Lord William

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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