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John Russell

John Russell, the Fourth Duke of Bedford was the individual for whom Fort Bedford was named. The traditional story is that he presented a flag to the fort's commandant, Colonel Henry Bouquet, and out of gratitude the fortification was named in his honor.

John Russell was born at Streatham, Surrey on 30 September 1710. He died at Bloomsbury, Bedford House on 14 January 1771.

So why wasn't the fort that was constructed to the west of John Wray's trading post named Fort Russell? British politicians, of course, had given and surnames, but they also had titles. Dukes and Earls and Viscounts, and other titled positions were created by the aristocracy to separate British society into different levels of importance. The system was accepted, and utilized to gain and grant favors for one and one's family. In many cases, a person (usually a man) could obtain a title, or perhaps a better title by performing some feat of bravery or simply by purchasing it. The person's title was, in many cases, the symbol of their position, and therefore was the important aspect of that person's being. And for that reason the person was secondary to the title. For example, William Pitt, the Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Fench and Indian War, held the title of 1st Earl of Chatham. In public documents, you seldom find the name 'William Pitt', rather, you find the name 'Chatham' to refer to the Prime Minister. Contemporary with Chatham was a man named Charles Watson-Wentworth, but few readers or researchers of British history know him by that name. Watson-Wentworth was more well known by his title: the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, or simply Rockingham. The position-as-persona was not a universal phenomena though. Frederick North, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the First Lord of the Treasury and the Leader of the House of Commons during 1770 to 1782, being only a 'Lord' was known simply as North. This brings us to John Russell, the Fourth Duke of Bedford. Bearing the title of Duke meant that the man by the name of John Russell was known as Bedford, so when he presented a flag to Colonel Henry Bouquet, he was honored ~ not by his given and surnames, but by his title: Bedford.