Russell, William Oldnall (DNB00)


RUSSELL, Sir WILLIAM OLDNALL (1785–1833), chief justice of Bengal, born in 1785, was eldest son of Samuel Oldnall, rector of St. Nicholas, Worcester, and North Piddle, and Mary, daughter of William Russell, esq., of Powick. In 1816, in accordance with the will of his maternal grandfather, Sir William took the surname of Russell. He matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 22 Dec. 1801, and was a student till 1812. He graduated B.A. in 1804 and M.A. in 1807. He was called to the bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1809, became serjeant-at-law on 25 June 1827, and chief justice of Bengal in 1832, when he was knighted. He died on 22 Jan. 1833. Russell's ‘Treatise on Crimes and Misdemeanours,’ which appeared in 2 vols. 8vo in 1819, was pronounced by Warren (Law Student, 2nd edit. p. 620) ‘the best general treatise in criminal law.’ A second edition appeared in 1827; a third, edited by C. S. Greaves, in 1843, with a supplement in 1851; a fourth, in 3 vols., in 1865; and a fifth, edited by S. Prentice, Q.C., in 1877. The American editions, of which seven were issued between 1824 and 1853, do not reproduce the wholework.

Russell also published: 1. ‘Practice in the Court of Great Sessions on the Caermarthen Circuit . . . also the Mode of levying a Fine and of suffering a Recovery. . . To which are added Rules of that Circuit, and some Precedents of Practical Forms,’ 3 pts. 8vo, 1814. 2. With (Sir) Edward Ryan [q. v.], ‘Crown Cases reserved and decided by Twelve Judges of England, 1799-1824,' 1825, 8vo; republished in J. W. Wallace's ‘British Crown Cases reserved.’

Russell married, in 1825, Louisa Maria, daughter of John Lloyd Williams, esq., and left issue.

[Grazebrook's Heraldry of Worcs.; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Marvin's Legal Bibl.; Gent. Mag. 1836, ii. 445.]

G. Le G. N.