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Hastings William Sackville Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford MA (21 December 1888 – 9 October 1953) was the son of Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford.

Educated at Eton College, he graduated from Balliol College, Oxford with a Master of Arts (M.A.). In November 1914 he married Louisa Crommelin Roberta Jowitt Whitwell; the couple had three children:


A keen naturalist he arranged a 1906 expedition to Shaanxi, China to collect zoological specimens for the British Museum during which Arthur de Carle Sowerby discovered a new species of Jerboa.[1]


He gained the rank of Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, and fought in the First World War. His subsequent advocacy of pacifism during the 1930s, and his attempt to mediate a truce in the Second World War by visiting the German legation in Dublin, led to his name being placed on a list of persons to be arrested in the event of a German invasion [1]. He went on to be patron of the British Peoples Party, an anti-war party that was accused of fascist sympathies. Despite this, he contributed articles on Social Credit and pacifism to Guy Aldred's journal, The Word, between 1940 and his death.[2] He was also an ornithologist, specialising in parrots; his other pets included a spider whom according to Nancy Mitford's The English Aristocracy, he would regularly feed roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

He died in 1953, aged 64, as a result of a gunshot wound in the grounds of his estate in Devon: perhaps incurred in a hunting accident, but perhaps deliberately self-inflicted, the latter explanation having been proffered by his elder son.

Hastings Russell features largely in his son John Ian's memoir, A Silver-Plated Spoon (World Books, 1959). Hastings is described as The loneliest man I ever knew, incapable of giving or receiving love, utterly self-centred and opinionated. He loved birds, animals, peace, monetary reform, the park and religion. In conjunction with his father, Hastings Russell managed to tie up the family fortunes in a way that made it extremely difficult for his son and heir to access the property.

References

  1. ^ Stevens, Keith (1998). Naturalist, Author, Artist, Explorer and Editor. Hong Kong Branch Royal Asiatic Society.  
  2. ^ Caldwell, John Taylor (1988), Come Dungeons Dark: The Life and Times of Guy Aldred, Glasgow Anarchist, p.234 ISBN: 0946487197
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Herbrand Russell
Duke of Bedford
1940–1953
Succeeded by
Ian Russell
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