Russell, Charles William (DNB00)

RUSSELL, CHARLES WILLIAM (1812–1880), president of Maynooth College, born at Killough, co. Down, on 14 May 1812, was descended from the family of Russell, barons of Killough of Quoniamstown and Ballystrew. He was educated at Drogheda and at Downpatrick, and in 1826 entered Maynooth College. He became a Dunboyne student in 1832, and in 1835 was appointed professor of humanity. In 1842 Gregory XVI selected him for the new apostolic vicariate of Ceylon. In 1845 he was nominated to fill the newly established chair of ecclesiastical history at Maynooth, and in 1857, on the death of Dr. Laurence Renehan [q. v.], he became president of the college.

Russell exercised considerable influence on the tractarian movement in England. From the summer of 1841 he was a warm personal friend of Newman, who says of him: ‘My dear friend, Dr. Russell, president of Maynooth, had perhaps more to do with my conversion than any one else. Yet he was always gentle, mild, unobtrusive, uncontroversial’ (Newman, Apologia, p. 194). His reputation stood high at Oxford, and the leaders of the party frequently applied to him for information on points arising in the tractarian controversy. He contributed several articles on the movement to the ‘Dublin Review,’ of which he was co-editor with Dr. Wiseman. Russell was also well known as an antiquary. He was appointed a member of the Historical Manuscripts Commission in 1869, and, in conjunction with John Patrick Prendergast [q. v.], he published ‘A Report on the Carte Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library’ (8 vols. 1871), and compiled the ‘Calendar of Irish State Papers during the Reign of James I’ (4 vols. 8vo, 1872–7). He also contributed the articles on palimpsests and papyrus to the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica’ (8th edit. 1859).

Russell died in Dublin, from the effects of a fall from his horse, on 26 Feb. 1880. Shortly before his death the pope enrolled him among his domestic prelates.

Besides the works noticed, Russell was author of ‘The Life of Cardinal Mezzofanti,’ 1858, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1863 (translated into Italian 1859); and he translated from the German Carl von Schmid's ‘Tales,’ London, 1846, 3 vols. 8vo (conjointly with the Rev. M. Kelly) and Leibnitz's ‘System of Theology,’ 1850, 8vo. In October 1876 and January 1877 he contributed to the ‘Dublin Review’ two articles on sonnets, which form one of the most complete treatises on the subject in English.

[Ward's Men of the Reign, p. 778; Freeman's Journal, 27 Feb. 1880; Allibone's Dict. of Authors; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. vii. 306, 7th ser. viii. 507.]

E. I. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.240
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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428 ii 33 Russell, Charles William: after Ballystrew. insert His brother Arthur was father of Sir Charles Russell, Lord Russell of Killowen [q. v. suppl.].