Margaret RUSSELL

(C. Cumberland)

Born: 7 Jul 1560, Exeter

Died: 24 May 1616, Brougham Castle

Buried: Appleby, St. Lawrence

Father: Francis RUSSELL (2 E. Bedford)

Mother: Margaret St. JOHN (C. Bedford)

Married: George CLIFFORD (3 E. Cumberland) 24 Jun 1577, St. Mary Overies, Southwark


1. Francis CLIFFORD (b. 1584 - d. 1589)

2. Robert CLIFFORD (b. 1585 - d. 1591)

3. Anne CLIFFORD (14 B. Clifford)

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Margaret Russell, Countess of Cumberland

Born on Jul 7, 1560, third and youngest daughter of Francis Russell, 2nd E. of Bedford, and Margaret St. John, and was born at Exeter about 7 Jul 1560.

Her mother died shortly after and Margaret was placed in the care of her aunt, Alice Elmers or Elmes, in Lilford, Northamptonshire. She lived a carefree and easygoing life with her until seven years old. Then she was called back to her father’s estate to meet her new step-mother, Bridget Hussey. The Earl of Bedford sent her daughter to court to be a Maid of Honor to Queen Elizabeth I.

More 'on the ground of common good than any particular liking', Lady Margaret married George Clifford, 3 E. Cumberland, on 24 Jun 1577, St. Mary Overies, Southwark, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth; and they had a daughter, Anne Clifford. In 1591, she left Cumberland after his intrigue with a certain court lady, taking with her their daughter, and went to live with her sister, Anne, the recently widowed Countess of Warwick, in Austin Friars. She had borne two sons, Francis and Robert, but both had died. When her daughter was old enough, Margaret hired Samuel Daniel as her tutor.

Deeply interested in alchemy she discovered many excellent medicines. She was a patron of the arts, receiving a number of dedications, and was a subscriber to the Virginia Company.

The Countess Margaret seems to have been an affectionate mother. Her daughter Anne describes her as a 'woman of greate naturall wit andjudgment, of a swete disposition, truly religious and virtuous, and endowed with a large share of those four moral virtues, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. The death of her two sonnes did so much afflict her as that ever after the booke of Jobe was her dayly companion'.

After Cumberlands death on 30 Oct 1605, Margaret had difficulty with his brothers over her inheritance. Cumberland had, by a will dated only eleven days before his death, left to his brother Francis and his heirs male the family estates. On 12 Oct 1607 the dowager Countess and her daughter Anne were denied entrance to Skipton Castle. Margaret was distinguished by resolute efforts to obtain for her daughter her rightful inheritance.

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She died at Brougham Castle in Westmoreland 24 May 1616, leaving the great lawsuit to be settled by a compromise dated 14 Mar 1617. Her daughter was present at her burial, which took place 7 Jul in Appleby Church, where her monument may still be seen. In memory of her last parting from her blessed mother, Lady Anne Clifford erected 'The Countess's Pillar' at the roadside near Brougham Castle, and also founded the almshouses at Beamsley, near Skipton Castle.

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