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Russell Clan

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Clan Cumming

Septs Name Russell

Crest- A dexter hand holding a skene dubh and on the point thereof a pair of balances, all Proper.

Motto- Virtus sine macula

Transalation- Virtue without stain.

Pipe music

Gaelic name - "rous" meaning red and early bearers of the name no doubt had red hair


Names associated with the clan: Rossell, Rousel, Rusel, Russale, Russall, Russaule, and Rwsall.

Russell History The surname Russell, or Russel, is believed to have personal origins, rather than territorial. The name in Scots occurs twice with 'dictus' and never with the prefix 'de', it is thought that it is a diminutive of rous, meaning 'red'. Infact, in one of Chaucer's tales, he calls a fox 'Daun Russel', referring to its reddish colour. A charter to the Abbey of Paisley by Walter filius Alani, sometime between 1164 and 1177, was witnessed by Walter Russell. These lands were then granted to the Hospital of Soltre in pure and perpetual alms by John, son of Robert Russel of Doncanlaw, at some point between 1180 and 1220. In 1259, a composition anent the lands of Threpland was witnessed by Robert Russel, and a different Robert Russel pledged his allegiance in 1296 to Edward I of England by signing the Ragman Roll in Berwick. Andreas dictus Russell was, in 1310, noted as being bailie of Aberdeen, and in 1376, there is record of a William Russell as tenant in the village of Dalfubill.

The origins of the name Russell are unclear. It may have derived from the French de Rozel, however in Scotland at least it may have derived from the word “rous” meaning red, with a Russell ancestor having a ‘ruddy’ complexion or red hair.

The name is one of the earliest surnames recorded in Scotland, the first being a Walter Russell who witnessed a charter in Paisley Abbey in the 12th Century. John, son of Robert Russel of Duncanlaw granted land to found a Hospital between 1180 and 1220. Robert Russel of Berwickshire was a big enough landowner to be required to sign the Ragman Roll and pay homage to Edward I in 1296. Russells can be found in Aberdeenshire where Rozel, an English baron who had fought at the siege of Berwick and the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, obtained an estate at Aden. The family was described as “Russel of that Ilk” implying that they were substantial landowners.

Cumming History

When William the Conqueror came to England he had a companion named Robert of Comyn, believed to have been so named from Comines in Flanders, whom he made Earl of Northumberland in 1069. When David I came to Scotland, Robert’s grandson Richard came with him, and was made Chancellor of Scotland in 1133.

The speed with which the Comyns established themselves and their power is notable. They settled in Badenoch where the clan’s chiefs were known as Lords of Badenoch, ruling from the impregnable island castle in Lochindorb.

Richard married Hexstilda of Tynedale, grand-daughter of King Donald Ban. Their son William became Earl of Buchan through marriage, and his son from a previous marriage became Earl of Menteith and Lord of Badenoch.

When King David I’s line ended in 1286, the Comyns were the most powerful family in Scotland, and had claim to the empty throne on two counts. However the crown went to King John in 1292. He was the son of Devorguilla, David’s great-grand-daughter, and John Balliol, founder of Balliol College in Oxford and another of Scotland’s most powerful men.

When King John was deposed the Balliols left Scotland and again the most powerful man in the country was a Comyn. Devorguilla’s grandson was known as ‘The Red Comyn’ and ruled with complete self-interest, sometimes fighting for Scotland and at other times for England.

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