Ian Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford

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The Duke of Bedford
13th Duke of Bedford 4 Allan Warren.jpg
Portrait taken by Allan Warren
Member of the House of Lords
as Duke of Bedford
In office
9 October 1953 – 11 November 1999
Preceded byHastings Russell
Succeeded byHouse of Lords Act 1999
Personal details
Born(1917-05-24)24 May 1917
St George Hanover Square, Middlesex, England[1]
Died25 October 2002(2002-10-25) (aged 85)
Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, U.S.
Clare Gwendolen Hollway
(m. 1939; died 1945)

Lydia Lyle
(m. 1947; div. 1960)

ChildrenHenry Robin Ian Russell, 14th Duke of Bedford
Rudolf Russell
Francis Hastings Russell
Parent(s)Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford
Louisa Crommelin Roberta Jowitt Whitwell

John Ian Robert Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford (24 May 1917 – 25 October 2002), styled Lord Howland until 1940 and Marquess of Tavistock between 1940 and 1953, was a British peer and writer. With J. Chipperfield he founded Woburn Safari Park and was the first Duke to open to the public the family seat, Woburn Abbey, which houses a large gallery of European paintings.

Background and education[edit]

Russell was the son of Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford, and his wife, Louisa. He had a very strained relationship with his father and grandfather, who during his early years refused to give him the allowance he felt would be appropriate for a future Duke; his father eventually tied up most of the Bedford fortune in trust so that he could not borrow against it.[2]

The 13th Duke was known in his youth as Ian, with the courtesy title Lord Howland. His father succeeded to the dukedom in 1940, and Lord Howland acquired the courtesy title Marquess of Tavistock.


Russell began as a rent collector in 1938, in Stepney. In 1939, he joined the Coldstream Guards and fought in the Second World War between 1939 and 1940, but left the army after being invalided. In 1940, he became a reporter for the Daily Express. In 1948, he emigrated to South Africa where he farmed in the Paarl area, before returning to the UK upon succeeding to his father's estates.

When his father died in 1953, he was exposed to death duties of $14 million.[3] Instead of handing the family estates over to the National Trust, he kept ownership and opened Woburn Abbey to the public for the first time in 1955. It soon gained visitors as other amusements were added, including Woburn Safari Park on the grounds of the Abbey in 1970. The move alienated him from many other peers.[4] Asked about the unfavourable comments by other aristocrats when he turned the family home into a safari park, the 13th Duke said, "I do not relish the scorn of the peerage, but it is better to be looked down on than overlooked." In his first ten years in the House of Lords, he did not speak.[3]

He published the following books:

  • A Silver-Plated Spoon (1959)
  • The Duke of Bedford's Book of Snobs (1965)
  • The Flying Duchess (1968)
  • How to Run a Stately Home (1971)

Russell was one of the few UK owners of a brand new 1958 Edsel Citation 4-door sedan motorcar, which he purchased soon after its US launch in September 1957 and was registered 1 MMC. Its current whereabouts is unknown. In 1958, he had a radio show called The Duke Disks on Radio Luxembourg with "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" as his signature tune, which was the family motto.[5]

He appeared in British, American, and West German feature films and TV, including The Iron Maiden, (filmed partially at Woburn); V.I.P.-Schaukel, (with Margret Dünser); The Tonight Show; World in Action; Coronation Street; The Golden Shot, and others.

He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1985.[6]


Russell married three times; his wives were:

  • Clare Gwendolen Hollway (1903 – 1 September 1945), daughter of Ernest John Bridgeman (New Zealand, 22 September 1883 – 18 July 1955) and Jessica "Jessie", née Weir.[7] Previously the wife of Major Kenneth Chamney Walpole Hollway, she had been the mistress of several men, including Sir Hugh Smiley, a brother-in-law of Cecil Beaton, who reportedly spent "much of his inheritance" on jewels for her.[8] She died of an overdose of sodium amytal tablets, which she took in front of her husband.[7] The Russells had two children:
  • Lydia Lyle (17 October 1917 – 25 July 2006),[9] daughter of John Yarde-Buller, 3rd Baron Churston and Denise (née Orme); this duchess was the widow of Capt. Ian Archibald de Hoghton Lyle (1909–1942), heir to a baronetcy, by which marriage she brought to Woburn two step-children. Married on 13 February 1947 and divorced in 1960, they had one child:
    • Lord Francis Hastings Russell (b. 27 February 1950), married in 1971 Mrs Faith Diane Carrington (née Ibrahim), a Singapore-born model[10]
  • Nicole Milinaire (29 June 1920 – 7 September 2012, née Schneider), a French television producer, former courier for the French Resistance, and former wife of businessman Henri Milinaire on 4 September 1960; they had no issue but she brought four stepchildren to the marriage.[11]

Bedford and his last duchess became tax exiles in 1974, eventually settling in Monaco. He died in Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, in 2002.[12]


  1. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
  2. ^ John Russell, A Silver-Plated Spoon (1959).
  3. ^ a b "Boxoffice Now Lifts The Family Mortgage". Variety. 27 November 1963. p. 1.
  4. ^ Russell, John (1965). The Duke of Bedford's Book of Snobs. p. 87.
  5. ^ "Duke of Bedford a DJ". Variety. 2 July 1958. p. 1. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  6. ^ Vanity Fair Archived 1 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b "Reluctant duke with common touch". The Irish Times.
  8. ^ Cecil Beaton, The Unexpurgated Diaries of Cecil Beaton
  9. ^ Owens, Mitchell (20 August 2006). "Lydia, Duchess of Bedford, 88, Pioneer in Noble-Tourism, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  10. ^ "LADY RUSSELL, 28. THE SINGAPORE-BORN MODEL (...)". Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). 2 April 1972. Retrieved 5 December 2022.
  11. ^ Barker, Dennis (14 September 2012). "Nicole, Duchess of Bedford obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Obituary: Nicole, Duchess of Bedford". The Daily Telegraph. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  • "Burke's Peerage and Baronetage"

External links[edit]

Peerage of England
Preceded by Duke of Bedford
Succeeded by