The Full Wiki

More info on Richard John Russell

Richard John Russell: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Richard John Russell (12 April 1872 – 5 February 1943) was a British dental surgeon and Liberal later Liberal National politician.

Family and education

Russell was the son of R J Russell of Birkenheadmarker. He was educated at St Ann’s, Birkenhead and at Liverpool Universitymarker. He obtained his Licentiate in Dental Surgery and qualified in the Royal College of Surgeons of Englandmarker He married Ellen Atkinson of Wensleydale inYorkshiremarker and they had two daughters.

Public career

Russell was the chairman of many important committees on Merseyside, including with Sir Archibald Salvidge, the Conservative political organiser, the Merseyside Co-ordination Committee and the Mersey Tunnelmarker Joint Committee. He also served as a Justice of the Peace. Russell was for many years an Alderman of Birkenhead Town Council.



Russell contested Eddisbury at the general elections of 1923 and 1924. There was no Labour Party tradition in the constituency, the radical interest such as it was in this predominantly rural area being vested in the Liberals. In a straight fight in 1923 Russell lost by only 196 votes to the sitting Conservative MP Harry Barnston. He continued to nurse the constituency between the 1923 and 1924 elections but suffered from being an outsider from an urban area compared with the sitting MP who had strong territorial ties with the constituency

By-election candidate

In early 1929 an opportunity arose for Russell with the death of Sir Harry Barnston. Russell was re-adopted as Liberal candidate for the resulting by-election in Eddisbury He had a straight fight against the Conservative candidate Lieutenant-Colonel R G Fenwick-Palmer. In this largely rural constituency, agricultural issues dominated the debates and campaigns with the Liberals promoting the Lloyd George land policy and the Conservatives denouncing it. Russell turned a Tory majority of 1,669 at the previous general election into a Liberal majority of 1,292. Eddisbury was one of a series of Liberal by-election successes at this time; Holland with Boston was won the day after Eddisbury and according to two important psephologists the Liberals were doing undeniably well in by-election contests in this Parliament.

Rural MP

Unsurprisingly for the representative of a rural area, in his subsequent parliamentary career, Russell often took a strong interest in countryside matters, the need to support farming as an industry and the importance of cheap food. In 1933 Russell sat on the House of Commonsmarker committee on surplus foodstuffs which had the aim of making surplus foods available to the unemployed at wholesale prices.

Political character and stance

In many aspects of his politics, Russell tended to be on the conservative wing of his party. He spoke in parliament of the Gladstonian virtues of efficiency, economy and retrenchment and was in favour of temperance and reduction of licensed drinking hours. One historian has described Russell as “....on the surface, the archetypal Liberal of the Gladstonian tradition.” He tended to vote with the Conservatives rather than Labour when the Liberal Parliamentary Party votes were split during the period of the second Labour government (1929-1931) on education and taxation. He was a Methodist lay preacher and strongly disapproved of sweepstakes and betting, working in the House of Commons for further restrictive legislation including proposing a Private Member's Bill to make illegal the Football pools and other forms of pool or parimutuel betting. He also strongly opposed secularisation of Sundays. In 1932 he played a leading role in opposing a Bill to allow cinemas to open on Sundays, describing the commercialisation of the Sabbath as an “intolerable desecration”.

By 1931 it was becoming clear that the ties of party and whip were loosening for Russell in Parliament and that he was taking up a much more independent approach.

Liberal National

In 1931 an economic crisis led to the formation of a National Government led by prime minister Ramsay MacDonald supported by a small number of National Labour MPs and initially backed by the Conservative and Liberal parties. However most Liberals had concerns about supporting the National coalition over the long run because of the government’s commitment to protectionism and tariffs in opposition to the traditional Liberal policy of Free Trade. Despite these worries, the Liberal Party led by Sir Herbert Samuel agreed to go into the 1931 general election supporting the government. As a result Russell found himself the representative of the coalition at the election, Conservative opposition to him being withdrawn. and he was returned unopposed.

As the initial crisis passed, the Liberal Party became increasingly anxious about the government’s stance on Free Trade and worried about the predominance of the Conservatives in the coalition. However a group of Liberal MPs led bySir John Simon who were concerned to ensure the National Government had a wide cross-party base formed the Liberal National Party to give more open support to MacDonald’s administration. Given the background of Russell’s opposition to the Labour government, his natural conservatism and his dependence upon Conservative support in his constituency it is not surprising that Russell was one of the group of 22 Simonite MPs who met in ‘secret conclave’ on the evening of 5 October 1931. The meeting resolved to form itself into a body to give firm support to the prime minister as the head of a national government and for the purpose of fighting a general election. Sir John Simon wrote to the Prime Minister that night to give him the news and the decision was made to call the group Liberal Nationals.

At the 1935 general election the Eddisbury Tories again accepted Russell as the representative of the National Government and stood aside in his favour. There was talk of his being opposed by an Independent Liberal, William Gibson a Cheshiremarker County Councillor and a former Chairman of Eddisbury Liberal Association but Gibson also withdrew and Russell again found himself returned to Parliament unopposed.


Russell died at Cheshuntmarker in Hertfordshiremarker on 5 February 1943 aged 70

Eddisbury by-election, 1943

At the by-election caused by Russell’s death the seat was gained for the Common Wealth Partyby John Eric Loverseed, the son of former Liberal MP John Frederick Loverseed (1881-1928).


Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address