Bishop, chancellor of England; b. Winchester, England; d. Lincolnshire, Dec. 30, 1494. Educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, he became doctor of Canon Law in 1459. Before 1464 he entered the royal service and was rewarded with rapid ecclesiastical preferment, becoming archdeacon of Berkshire (1466) and eventually bishop of rochester (provided July 15, 1476). He was translated on July 7, 1480, to Lincoln, and held that see until his death. It seems, however, that secular rather than pastoral cares engaged him at least until 1486. For as an able and trusted councillor of Edward IV, he was much employed on diplomatic missions, and held office as keeper of the privy seal (May 1474 to April 1483). Chancellor of England from May 10, 1483, he was dismissed by Richard III in July 1485 on suspicion of disloyalty. Although Russell was sufficiently flexible politically to serve five kings, he was nevertheless esteemed by contemporaries, and Thomas more praised him as "a wyse manne and a good … one of the beste learned menne … Englande hadde in hys time." From 1483 to his death he was the first chancellor for life of oxford university. His considerable library included many classical and humanist works, some of which he presented to New College.
Bibliography: Calendars of Patent Rolls, 1461–85 (London 1897–1901). MS Register, Diocesan Record Office, Lincoln. s. b. chrimes, English Constitutional Ideas in the Fifteenth Century (Cambridge, England 1936) 167–191. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the Scholars of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 1957–59) 3:1609–11.
[c. d. ross]