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5th Duke of Bedford (1771-1802)
Born 1765 Died 1802

Francis Russell, eldest son of Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock (d. 1767), by his wife, Elizabeth (d. 1768), daughter of William Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle, was baptized on the 23rd of July 1765. In January 1771 he succeeded his grandfather as Duke of Bedford, and was educated at Westminster school and Trinity College, Cambridge, afterwards spending nearly two years in foreign travel.

Regarding Charles James Fox as his political leader, he joined the Whigs in the House of Lords, and became a member of the circle of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV. Having overcome some nervousness and educational defects, he began to speak in the House, and soon became one of the leading debaters in that assembly. He opposed most of the measures brought forward by the ministry of William Pitt, and objected to the grant of a pension to Edmund Burke, an action which drew down upon him a scathing attack from Burke's pen.

Bedford was greatly interested in agriculture. He established a model farm at Woburn, and made experiments with regard to the breeding of sheep. He was a member of the original board of agriculture, and was the first president of the Smithfield club. He died at Woburn on the 2nd of March 1802, and was buried in the family burying-place at Chenies. The duke was never married, and was succeeded in the title by his brother, John.

See Lord Holland, Memoirs of the Whig Party (London, 1854); J. H. Wiffen, Historical Memoirs of the house of Russell (London, 1833); E. Burke, Letter to a Noble Lord (Edinburgh, 1837; and Earl Stanhope, Life of Pitt (London, 1861-1862).

Extracted from the entry for BEDFORD, EARLS AND DUKES OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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