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Russell also Rossell is a British name some writers claim to be derived from the Anglo-Norman nickname rus[s]el (Modern Norman patronymic Roussel).[2] The nickname was said to be a diminutive in -ell of the Anglo-Norman rous for "red" (Old French ros[3]). In addition, the spelling -ell for the French diminutive suffix -el reflects the will to render the French pronunciation of -el like in other anglicized surnames such as Brunell, Purcell, etc.

Region of originCalvados area of France
Other names
Variant form(s)Russel
Frequency Comparisons:[1]

The name may also refer to Clan Russell, a Scottish armigerous clan. Historian William Anderson has written that Scottish Russells from Aberdeenshire can trace their ancestry through local parish records, back to a baron Rosel who purchased estates at Aden in Aberdeenshire in 1333.

The first appearance of the Russell form of the name on any official record was William Russell, son of a Ralph de Rosel whose name appears in the Winton Domesday Book of (1107-1128). The Lenton Register named William Russell as Ralph de Rosel's son. (J.H. Wiffen, The Time of the Norman Conquest). The ancestor of the family may originate from le Rozel (Normandy, Cotentin, le Rosel in 1135, de Rosel in 1187[4]).

The last recorded use of the de Rosel form of the name in England in any official document was in a charter by Alain Russell, who held the fief of the church of Donnington in Lincolnshire from his father Robert Russell. In 1258 Alain Russell made a charter bestowing the church of St. Stephen at le Plessis-Grimoult in Normandy to the local parish, in which he named himself Alain de Rosel, showing that he continued to use the older de Rosel form of the name when in France. (J.H. Wiffen, The Time of the Norman Conquest) The Subsidy Roll carried out in 1327 lists 22 land owners named Russell with estates large enough to be taxed, but no one named de Rosel, showing that by 1327 the older de Rosel form of the name was no longer widely used in England.

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  • Bourn Russell (1794-1880), British/Australian mariner, pastoralist, businessman and politician

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Russell Surname Meaning and Geographic Distribution". Retrieved 19 January 2014
  2. ^ The Russell Surname, Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4,
  3. ^ CNTRL Site : etymology of roux (French)
  4. ^ François de Beaurepaire, Les Noms des communes et anciennes paroisses de la Manche, editions Picard 1985, p. 185
  5. ^ "About Scientist Henry Norris Russell". What is USA News. 29 March 2014. Retrieved 2013-10-19.