Bedford on his brother’s death a year later; and having lost his first wife in 1735, married in April 1737 Lady Gertrude Leveson-Gower (d. 1794), daughter of John, Earl Gower. In the House of Lords he joined the party hostile to Sir Robert Walpole, took a fairly prominent part in public business, and earned the dislike of George II. When Carteret, now Earl Granville, resigned office in November 1744, Bedford became first lord of the admiralty in the administration of Henry Pelham, and was made a privy councillor. He was very successful at the admiralty, but was not equally fortunate after he became secretary of state for the southern department in February 1748. Pelham accused him of idleness; he was constantly at variance with the duke of Newcastle, and resigned office in June 1751. Instigated by his friends he was active in opposition to the government, and after Newcastle’s resignation in November 1756, became lord-lieutenant of Ireland in the ministry of William Pitt and the duke of Devonshire, retaining this office after Newcastle, in alliance with Pitt, returned to power in June 1757. In Ireland he favoured a relaxation of the penal laws against Roman Catholics, but did not keep his promises to observe neutrality between the rival parties, and to abstain from securing pensions for his friends. His own courtly manners and generosity, and his wife’s good qualities, however, seem to have gained for him some popularity, although Horace Walpole says he disgusted everybody. In March 1761 he resigned this office. Having allied himself with the earl of Bute and the party anxious to bring the Seven Years’ War to a close, Bedford was noticed as the strongest opponent of Pitt, and became lord privy seal under Bute after Pitt resigned in October 1761. The cabinet of Bute was divided over the policy to be pursued with regard to the war, but pacific counsels prevailed, and in September 1762 Bedford went to France to treat for peace. He was considerably annoyed because some of the peace negotiations were conducted through other channels, but he signed the peace of Paris in February 1763. Resigning his office as lord privy seal soon afterwards, various causes of estrangement arose between Bute and Bedford, and the subsequent relations of the two men were somewhat virulent. The duke refused to take office under George Grenville on Bute’s resignation in April 1763, and sought to induce Pitt to return to power. A report, however, that Pitt would only take office on condition that Bedford was excluded, incensed him and, smarting under this rebuff, he joined the cabinet of Grenville as lord president of the council in September 1763. His haughty manner, his somewhat insulting language, and his attitude with regard to the regency bill in 1765 offended George III., who sought in vain to supplant him, and after this failure was obliged to make humiliating concessions to the ministry. In July 1765, however, he was able to dispense with the services of Bedford and his colleagues, and the duke became the leader of a political party, distinguished for rapacity, and known as the “Bedford party,” or the “Bloomsbury gang.” During his term of office he had opposed a bill to place high import duties on Italian silks. He was consequently assaulted and his London residence attacked by a mob. He took some part in subsequent political intrigues, and although he did not return to office, his friends, with his consent, joined the ministry of the duke of Grafton in December 1767. This proceeding led “Junius” to write his “letter to the duke of Bedford,” one of especial violence. Bedford was hostile to John Wilkes, and narrowly escaped from a mob favourable to the agitator at Honiton in July 1769. His health had been declining for some years, and in 1770 he became partially paralysed. He died at Woburn on the 15th of January 1771, and was buried in the family burying place at Chenies. His three sons all predeceased him, and he was succeeded in the title by his grandson, Francis. The duke held many public offices: lord-lieutenant of Bedfordshire and Devonshire, and chancellor of Dublin University among others, and was a knight of the garter. Bedford was a proud and conceited man, but possessed both ability and common-sense. The important part which he took in public life, however, was due rather to his wealth and position than to his personal taste or ambition. He was neither above nor below the standard of political morality of the time, and was influenced by his duchess, who was very ambitious, and by followers who were singularly unscrupulous.
See Correspondence of John, 4th Duke of Bedford, edited by Lord John Russell (London, 1842-1846); J. H. Wiffen, Historical Memoirs of the House of Russell (London, 1833); W. E. H. Lecky, History of England, vol. iii. (London, 1892); Horace Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of George II. (London, 1847), and Memoirs of the Reign of George III., edited by G. F. R. Barker (London, 1894.)
Francis Russell, 5th duke of Bedford (1765-1802), 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).
John Russell, 6th duke of Bedford (1766-1839), was succeeded as seventh duke by his eldest son, Francis (1788-1861), who had an only son, William (1809-1872), who became duke on his father’s death in 1861. When the eighth duke died in 1872, he was succeeded by his cousin, Francis Charles Hastings (1819-1891), who was member of parliament for Bedfordshire from 1847 until he succeeded to the title. The ninth duke was the eldest son of Major-General Lord George William Russell (1790-1846), who was a son of the sixth duke. He married Elizabeth, daughter of George John, 5th Earl de la Warr, and both his sons, George William Francis Sackville (1852-1893), and Herbrand Arthur (b. 1858), succeeded in turn to the title.
BEDFORD, a municipal and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Bedfordshire, England, 50 m. north-north-west of London by the Midland railway; served also by a branch of the London & North-Western. Pop. (1901) 35,144. It lies in the fertile valley of the Ouse, on both banks, but mainly on the north, on which stands the mound which marks the site of the ancient castle. The church of St Paul is Decorated and Perpendicular, but its central tower and spire are modern; it contains the tomb of Sir William Harper or Harpur (c. 1496-1573), lord mayor of London, a notable benefactor of his native town of Bedford. St Peter’s church has in its central tower masonry probably of pre-Conquest date; that of St Mary’s is in part Norman, and that of St John’s Decorated; but the bodies of these churches are largely restored. There are some remains of a Franciscan friary of the 14th century. The Congregational chapel called Bunyan’s or the “Old Meeting” stands on the site of the building in which John Bunyan preached from 1656 onward. His chair is preserved here, and a tablet records his life in the town, where he underwent a long but in part nominal imprisonment. He was born at Elstow, 1½ m. from Bedford, where, while playing on the green, he believed himself to have received the divine summons to renounce sin. In the panels of a fine pair of bronze doors in the chapel are scenes illustrative of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Bedford is noted for its grammar school, founded by Edward VI. in 1552, and endowed by Sir William Harper. The existing buildings date from 1891, and have been increased since