Sunday, 13 September 2009

More detail on the railway activities of Russell

For more detail on the railway activities of James C Russell the following books are recommended.

An Illustrated History of the Welsh Highland Railway by Peter Johnson published by Oxford Publishing Co; 2nd edition 2009. A well researched and referenced history of the Welsh Highland Railway, including the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Company with which J C Russell was intimately involved. The book is well illustrated but has somewhat stodgy prose. This revised edition has more material on the activities of Russell, who effectively controlled the NWNGR company, the WHR’s predecessor. But we are still in the dark as to how Russell, a London barrister became involved with an obscure railway in North Wales.

Narrow Gauge Railways In South Caernarvonshire Volume One by James I.C. Boyd published by the Oakwood Press and currently in print. It deals with the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway, Portmadoc Beddgelert & South Snowdon Railway, Croesor Tramway and other related railways companies as well as The Embankment Tramway, Gorseddau Tramway, Festiniog & Blaenau Railway, Merionethshire Railway and Bettws-y-Coed & Festiniog Railway.

Narrow Gauge Railways In South Caernarvonshire Volume 2 published in 1989 and out of print deals largely with the Welsh Highland Railway from the 1920s onwards until closure with material on the attempts to rebuild it up to 1988. Johnson's book is more up to date and has more detail on the rebirth of the WHR.

James I C Boyd who died in 2009 was the doyen of writers and historians of obscure narrow gauge railways in Wales and elsewhere. His books, mostly published by Oakwood and sometimes by others including Wild Swan, were sometimes “knocked” because of his slightly pedestrian writing style and some alleged weaknesses in research. The latter may or may not be true. However he was a pioneer in writing railway histories based on original sources and his books brought the fascinating history of now not so obscure railways to a much wider public.
See Boyd's Daily Telegraph obituary at and Patrick Keef's excellent eulogy at - a man of many parts.

Narrow Gauge Railways in North Wales Charles E Lee Published in 1945. A good introduction to the subject. Copies can still be found and the Welsh Highland/North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways section was re-published in the 1960s by the Welsh Highland Railway Society/Company in association with David & Charles with additional photographs. It has been alleged that Lee managed to write this book without ever going to North Wales!

The Manchester and Milford Railway by John Holden published by The Oakwood Press in 2007 in their Oxford Library of Railway History series. This is a second, revised edition of an authoritative work first published in 1979. Holden presents his material in a pleasant, readable style. Early history of proposals for rail routes through the challenging topography of the Cambrian mountains is fascinating. He goes on to describe the construction and financial difficulties of the railway, and its operation. The route, stations, locomotives and rolling stack are well illustrated with maps, diagrams and many interesting photographs.

Monday, 3 August 2009

JCR in 1891 in Broadstairs, Kent

JCR and his sister Lucy Russell were in Broadstairs at the time of the 1891 Census and staying with Bethia Thedens in this house in Prospect Place. Bethia was "living on her means" - another wealthy friend of JCR!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Where JCR was married

JCR married Eleanor Catherine Broome at Widcombe parish church, Somerset on April 26th 1893. Widcombe is on the south-eastern fringes of Bath city centre, a few minutes walk via the footbridge across the River Avon from the railway station, or along the riverside path from the Recreation Ground.

James Cholmeley Russell's Father

RUSSELL, JAMES (1790-1861), law reporter, born in 1790, was the eldest son of James Russell, esq., of Stirling. After graduating with distinction at Glasgow University, he was called to the English bar from the Inner Temple in June 1822. Having been introduced by Henry Lascelles, second earl of Harewood, to Lord Eldon, he was appointed in the following year a reporter in the courts of the Lord Chancellor and Master of the Rolls. In 1824 he became sole authorised reporter. He gradually acquired a large chancery and bankruptcy practice, and took silk in 1841. He had ceased reporting in 1834. He ultimately became leader of Vice-Chancellor Knight Bruce's court, but overwork destroyed his eyesight, and for some years before his death he was blind. He was on four occasions asked to become a candidate for parliament, but declined each invitation. While not a brilliant pleader, Russell held a high position at the bar, owing to his learning and acuteness.

Besides contributing to the ' Quarterly Review,' Russell, together with his younger brother, John Russell of the Scots bar, was for some years editor of the ' Annual Register.' James Russell died at Roxeth House, near Harrow, on 6 Jan. 1861, and was buried at Kensal Green. He married, in April 1839, Maria, eldest daughter of the Rev. Robert Cholmeley, Rector of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, by whom he had issue three sons and five daughters.

Russell published : 1. 'Reports in Chancery,' 1826-8, 4 vols. 8vo, and 2 parts, vol. v. 1827-30. 2. With George J. Turner, ' Reports in Chancery, 1822-4,' 1832. 3. With James W. Mylne, ' Reports in Chancery, 1829-31, with particular cases in 1832-3,'

Source: Dictionary of National Biography volume 49

Details of Maria's family in The Baronetage of England. revised, corrected and continued by G.W. Collen  By John Debrett. Her father, the Rev. Robert Cholmeley was a descendent of  Sir John Montague Cholmeley of  Lincoln

Monday, 20 July 2009

Asking the Court for money for the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Company

Evidence that the problems of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Company were troubling James C Russell even a year before his death, in this sworn affadavit to the Chancery divison of the High Court. Dated 31st May 1911 it asks the Court permission to release money held by the Court to pay for running expenses and to pay debenture interest. At the end he drops in that there are negotiations taking place to transfer the line to the London & North Western Railway which ultimately proved to be a pipe dream. Most of this is in copper plate script by one assumes a solictor's clerk but JCR has added a line in his own wavering hand writing at the end, perhaps demonstrating his fraility by this time.

Many thanks to Michael Bishop for unearthing this document and for others including Russell (as Receiver) asking the Court to let him spend up to £250 on building the Stationmaster's House at Dinas in 1899, funded by Debentures which were never raised and another in 1914 by his successor Gowrie Aitchison detailing quotes for engine repairs for "Russell" and "Gowrie" funded from Monies in Court.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

James Chomeley Russell's Funeral Report

The report on JCR's funeral from The Farnham, Haslemere & Hindhead Herald for September 7th 1912 is shown in these two pictures.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Ernest E Lake

Ernest E Lake (1844 -1917) was a friend of JCR, his solicitor and an executor of his will.

He was born at Highgate, Middlesex, on the 2 March 1844. His father Henry was a partner in the family law firm, Tucker Lake & Lyon of 4 New Court, Lincoln's Inn which Ernest subsequently joined. Ernest had six brothers and two sisters and one of them, Edward became the first managing director of the Greene King Brewery of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. His mother, Mary Lake née Greene was one of thirteen children and a brother Benjamin Buck Greene was a Governor of the Bank of England from 1873 to 1875. Mary was a relative of the novelist Graham Greene.

Lake was one of the original shareholders in The Moel Tryfan Rolling Stock Company Limited set up in 1878, that leased "the Locomotives, Engines, Carriages, Wagons, Trucks and Rolling Stock..." to the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Company. Lake later became a director of the NWNR Co.

Ernest married Mary Frances Dyne (1848 - 1903) in 1872 but there were no children of the marriage.

He was Mayor of Hampstead in 1908 and laid the foundation stone for Hampstead Hill School on Pond Street formerly the old church and community halls. See Ed Fordham's blog of 12 July 2009 at

Ernest died in Hampstead on 28 September 1917

For more information on the Lake and Greene family see an excellent family history site at

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Friends of James Cholmeley Russell

In his will of 1897 JCR made bequests of £20 each (around £1700 at 2008 prices using the RPI measure) to some of his friends. They included the 'great and the good' of the time:

John Heywood Johnstone was MP for Horsham (1893-1904) and lived at Bignor Park, Sussex and also at Trewithen, Cornwall, famous its gardens. He was usually known by his middle name of Heywood.1 He was a Justice of the Peace was a Deputy Lieutenant John Heywood Johnstone's son George Horace Johnstone (1882 -1960) took over Trewithen on his father's death heralding Trewithen's Golden Age of Gardening.

Sir Edward Fry GCB, GCMG, FRS (1827-1918), was a judge in the Court of Appeal (1883-1892) and also an arbitrator on the International Permanent Court of Arbitration. He was a Quaker, son of Joseph Fry (1795-1879) and Mary Ann Swaine.

He was called to the bar in 1854, took silk in 1869 and became a judge in Chancery in 1877 and was raised to the Court of Appeal in 1877 retiring in 1892.

In 1897 he accepted an offer to preside over the Royal Commission on the Irish Land Acts. He also acted as an arbitrator in the Welsh coal strike (1898), the Grimsby fishery dispute (1901) and between the London and North Western Railway Company and its employees (1906, 1907).

He was also involved in international law including acting as the British legal assessor on the commission to investigate the Dogger Bank incident where the Russian navy accidentally attacked a British herring fleet in the North Sea.

Besides law he was on the Council of University College London and was interested in Zoology (elected to the Royal Society in 1883).He wrote two books on bryophytes, British Mosses (1892) and, with his daughter Agnes, The Liverworts: British and Foreign (1911). Sir Edward lived at Failand House just outside Bristol.

Sir Fleetwood Isham Edwards (1842-1910) was educated at Harrow School and went to Sandhurst in 1861. He received a commission in the Royal Engineers in 1863. In the 1870s he was Inspector of Works at Woolwich Arsenal, then aide-de-camp to General Sir John Lintorn Simmons, inspector-general of fortifications. Following his contributions to the Berlin Congress, in 1878, he was appointed Assistant Privy Purse and Assistant Private Secretary to Queen Victoria. He later became head of the Queen's personal household, a privy councillor, and a close personal advisor. He was an executor of her will in 1901.

He was a member of the M.C.C. from 1870, and at Harrow, just failed to get into the Eleven. In his time he made some scores for the Royal Engineers, and in 1865 began to play for Gentlemen of Kent.

Aubrey St John Clerke, (1843-1923), had a brilliant career as a scholar and medallist in mathematics and science at Trinity College, Dublin and later became a Chancery barrister in London. Amon other books, he wrote The law and practice under the Settled land acts, 1882-1890. With the statutes and the rules and forms issued under the Settled land act, 1882

Ernest E Lake (1844 -1917)
See next post

Sunday, 5 July 2009

James Russell's siblings

Maria Russell - born 1841 - married in 1874 - Arthur Charles Humphreys-Owen (9 November 1836 – 9 December 1905) Welsh barrister, landowner and Liberal politician. See the Wikipedia entry at
Frances Penelope Russell - born 1843
Robert Bruce Russell - born 1845 in Walmer Kent - Oxford graduate - Magdalen College - became a barrister - died 1887 - co-edited with JCR The Rights And Liabilities Of Husband and Wife by John Fraser Macqueen on the law of marriage
Charlotte Russell - (1846 - 1875) married James Howe McClure (lawyer) and moved to Scotland - their son (born 1875) Major Charles Russell McClure died on 21st October 1914 after being wounded under heavy close fire at Le Bizet. He was 39. See more at the University of Glasgow Roll of Honour site
Lucy Jane Russell - born 1848 - married Rev. John Pincher Faunthorpe,   Vice-Principal of Whitelands College (Battersea Training College) in 1901 after the death of his first wife, Charlotte. Lucy died on 18 Aug 1917 in Elmfield House, Bromley, Kent
John Montague Russell - born 1850 - graduated from Oxford (Magdalen College) in 1870
Jessie Russell - born 1854

Based on Census data and various other sources including
David Naylor, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Another Russell home in Scotland

Before buying from the late Mr Carmichael, Loch Leven Creagmhor (see below), JCR took a three year lease on Allt-nan-ros at Onich, 11 miles south of Fort William and 2 miles north of Ballaculish Bridge. It's a beautiful Victorian Villa by Loch Linnhe with spectacular views to the Morvern Hills and beyond and is now hotel. Click the picture title to go to the hotel's website

Source: Oban Times and Mike Bishop and Neil F King on Flickr for the picture

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Russell and Wilson Saunders the botanist

William Wilson Saunders
JCR had it seems an interest in botany. He arranged for the Herbarium of some 20,000 specimens which belonged to Mr. Wilson Saunders to be presented to Oxford University on Saunders' death. William Wilson Saunders FRSA 1809-79 was an underwriter at Lloyds of London, which is probably how Russell came to know him and was primarily an entomologist as well as a botanist. He was president of the Entomological Society on two occasions, 1841-1842 and 1856-1857.
See also Wikipedia entry here

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Russell's home in Scotland

Russell's Scottish house is now a charming family run Lochside Hotel called Creagmhor Lodge. Picture shows JCR with Blackie, "the dog that owned its master". Click the post title above for the hotel link