RUSSELL, Thomas I, of Melcombe Regis, Dorset.
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Family and Education
The Russells were already prominent in Dorset by the late 14h century: William Russell† had sat for Melcombe in 1340 and for Dorchester in 1348; and Stephen Russell*, his son Henry Russell†, and John Russell† were all to represent Weymouth before 1450. Thomas’s house stood on the quayside at Melcombe Regis. After he had been returned to Parliament for the borough three times, in 1395 he and Walter Puryham* of Taunton were called upon to provide assurances for the appearance at Westminster of the knights of the shire and all the parliamentary burgesses for Somerset and Dorset, among whom was his kinsman, Stephen. As well as his property in Melcombe, Thomas held two messuages and a toft in Dorchester, from which he was found at the assizes of 1402 to have been illegally evicted by Robert Calche* and Henry Ford*. Another lawsuit, brought in 1407, reveals something about his immediate family. His brother, John Russell alias Preston, whose will was proved in 1402, had died seised of tenements in Dorchester, Wareham and Melcombe as well as in Bloxworth (by Bere Regis), where he was buried. His properties were claimed under the terms of the will by Joan Russell, allegedly the great-grand daughter of Thomas’s sister Alice, but more likely the testator’s own illegitimate daughter. Thomas retained them owing to a technical defect in Joan’s plea.1
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
He is to be distinguished from Thomas Russell alias Gorges (d.1404) of the Isle of Wight, son of Theobald Gorges (3rd s. of Sir Theobald Russell by Eleanor Gorges) from whom were descended the Gorges of Wraxall, Som.: C137/41/17; G. Scott Thomson, Two Cents. Fam. Hist. 327.
- 1. HMC 5th Rep. 577; C219/9/11; JUST 1/1513 m. 15d, 1519 m. 21.