Philip Russell, Sr.
  b: ~1745 - England
  d: 23/Jan/1792 - Wythe Co., VA

Spouse: ***** Brewer

Child: Philip, Jr.

Biographical Details:

It is thought that the surname "Russell" derives from the French given name or nickname "Rousel", which denoted someone having red hair or, possibly, a red face.1  Consequently, the name's more distant etymological roots extend to the Old French word "rous" (modern form: "roux" or "rousse"), which if applied to description of an individual typically means "red-haired" and is an obvious cognate with the Latin word "russus", which is one of the many Latin terms for red or a reddish hue.  Indeed, "Russus" (or more commonly, the closely related "Rufus") is known to have been used in antiquity as a Roman cognomen, i.e., a third, usually last, name, which was often a descriptive nickname, and, hence, undoubtedly denoted some personal characteristic such as a ruddy complexion or red hair.  Within this context, it is possible to relate all of these names to a primitive Indo-European root meaning "red".  As such, not all Russell families can be expected to be uniquely related.  This surname and its variants "Russel" or "Rusell" became distributed in England, Scotland, and Ireland in the centuries following the Norman Conquest.  Alternatively, the name may also be an anglicized form of the French Protestant surname "Rossel" which was applied to immigrants from France to English speaking regions during the time of the persecution of the Huguenots.

In any case, it is commonly believed that Philip Russell, Sr., was one of four brothers that immigrated from England to the American colonies about 1770.  The traditional story (or, perhaps, more correctly, the legend) among their putative descendants is that two of the brothers, Philip and Samuel, settled in Virginia and that a third brother, William, went further westward to Tennessee.  The name and fate of the fourth brother is apparently unknown.  However, as a matter of history, prior to the Revolutionary War westward migration was restricted by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763.  Therefore, it is quite unlikely that the putative William settled in Tennessee and, accordingly, it is more plausible that all of the Russell brothers first settled in Virginia or the Carolinas and that William went west sometime later, either during or just after the Revolutionary War (which, of course, removed all colonial restriction on western settlement).  Likewise, according to family tradition, about 1774 Philip's brother, Samuel, sponsored the immigration of a widow, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Brewer, and her son, Lewis.2,3  Accordingly, Samuel and Mary Elizabeth were married shortly after her arrival in the colony.  Moreover, Lewis Brewer was reportedly born in Devonshire, England, about 1760, which suggests that the Brewer family and by extension, perhaps, the Russell brothers as well originated in this general vicinity, but this is merely speculation.  In any case, it has been further reported that additional members of the Brewer family also immigrated at the same time and, perhaps, the wife of Philip, Sr., was included among this group; however, nothing definite is known.  At that time, rather than Virginia, Samuel Russell was said to have been living in western North Carolina, apparently in that part of Rowan County which was organized subsequently in 1777 as Burke County.  Within this context, only one child, Philip, Jr., has been attributed to Philip Russell, Sr., and his wife.  Of course, large families were common in the eighteenth century and it is likely that if his mother did not die in childbirth, Philip, Jr., would have had many brothers and sisters; however, these are entirely unknown.  In passing, it is worthwhile to consider further one piece of circumstantial evidence that supports a close connection between the Russell and Brewer families; to be specific, a letter written on February 7, 1830, by Samuel Russell of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, to Lewis Brewer and his wife of Grayson County, Virginia.4  According to Miss Nettie Mae Brewer, who provided the letter for publication, Lewis Brewer and Samuel Russell were brothers.  Indeed, this suggests that Samuel Russell of Claiborne Parish was the son of Samuel Russell, Sr., and Mary Elizabeth Brewer Russell; hence, he would have been the half brother of Elizabeth's son, Lewis Brewer, who was apparently the recipient of the letter and, as indicated previously, had immigrated to North America with his mother.  Moreover, the letter also requests that the recipient Remember me to Phillip, Russel, and Rebecca, and to all of your children and also to all inquiring friends.  As it stands, the appearance of commas between the three proper names indicates three separate individuals; however, since children and friends are mentioned specifically in the following text, it seems more likely that this passage should be read "Phillip Russel and Rebecca", in which case it was probably a reference to Philip Russell, Jr., and his wife, Rebeckah.  In general, punctuation was often applied haphazardly in the early nineteenth century or, alternatively, the commas might have been inserted erroneously by a later transcriber.  Clearly, this interpretation is consistent not only with the implication that the author of the letter and Philip Russell, Jr., were first cousins through their fathers, i.e., the Russell family, but that they may also have been related either by blood or marriage through the Brewer family as well.  (In addition, it further implies that Samuel Russell of Claiborne Parish was probably also a first cousin of Rebeckah Russell.)  Notwithstanding that Samuel's step-son, Lewis, seems to have been a Patriot, it is almost certain that the Russell brothers would have been Loyalists during the Revolutionary War.  (This should not be surprising since during the American Revolution, as in any civil war, families were often divided in their loyalties)  At this time, they appear to have been living in northwestern North Carolina.  This presumption is supported by records of the County Court of Wilkes County, North Carolina, which indicate that Philip Russell was ordered into the custody of the county sheriff in June of 1778 and was present in insolvent's court (either as insolvent or as a committee member) on March 5, 1779.  Moreover, it is well known from contemporary sources that many of the inhabitants of this region were sympathetic to the Crown.  Furthermore, the presumption that Philip and Samuel Russell were Tories is further supported by the work of Murtie June Clark in Loyalists in the Southern Campaign in the Revolutionary War, which is cited by Shirley Ramos and Patricia Kratz, in which "Private Philip Russell" is identified as having been a member of Captain John Wormley's Company of the Royal North Carolina Regiment between October 24 and December 24, 1781.  Apparently, he was captured by colonial forces since it is indicated elsewhere that he was held as a prisoner of war by the rebels.  In addition, "Private Samuel Russell" is included in the pay abstract for Colonel Robert Ballingall's Regiment appearing in a Certification for Service of the Colleton County, South Carolina, Militia.  In any case, following the Revolutionary War, Philip Russell, Sr., along with his brother, Samuel, evidently settled in southwestern Virginia, in the area later organized as Grayson County.  There they established families although, perhaps, they may have already married in either North Carolina or Virginia.  According to Ramos and Kratz, a record exists which indicates that Philip Russell, Sr., died without property in Wythe County, Virginia, on January 23, 1792.  (Grayson County was formally established by the Virginia General Assembly on November 7, 1792, from a part of Wythe County.)  In contrast, other researchers indicate that he subsequently lived in Grayson County and died about 1807.  However, there is no evidence from tax lists or other civil records that Philip Russell, Sr., and his son Philip, Jr., were both contemporaneously alive in Grayson County during the first decade of the nineteeth century.  Therefore, the earlier date seems more likely.  Moreover, the clear implication that Philip, Sr., was a pauper at the time of his death is, perhaps, consistent with confiscation of his property by victorious opponents of his Loyalist sympathies; however, this is merely a speculation.  As a general consideration, there have been attempts by various family researchers to link the Russell family of Grayson County to the Russell family of Thanet, County Kent, England.5  However, lines of descent affirmed by these researchers are inconsistent among themselves and this connection seems dubious at best.

Source Notes and Citations:
1. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated.
     "1. English, Scottish, and Irish: from Rousel, a common Anglo-Norman French nickname for someone with red hair, a diminutive of Rouse with the hypocoristic suffix -el.
     2. Americanized spelling of German Rüssel, from a pet form of any of the various personal names formed with the Old High German element hrod 'renown'."
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2. Ben R. Brewer, The Long Brewer Line, 607 Hatherleigh Lane, Louisville, KY, 40222, printed by Tennessee Valley Pub., Knoxville, TN, 1993: pg. unk.
      "Lewis and his mother came to America when Lewis was about 14 years old.  Along with them were about thirty-two other Brewer families. The ship on which they sailed was shipwrecked somewhere near Cape Hatterus (sic), North Carolina.  Lewis and his mother, Mary Elizabeth were sponsored by Samuel Russell of Burke County, North Carolina.  After living on his plantation for a while, Mary Elizabeth Brewer married Samuel Russell.  Lewis being young and living on the Russell farm was sometimes referred to as Lewis Russell.
      At the age of eighteen, using his real name of Lewis Brewer, he joined the Revolutionary War.  On June 20, 1778, Lewis was enlisted in the l5th Regiment as a private in the North Carolina Cont. Line.  He was assigned to the Ballard company and served nine months.  This information was taken from the Military Records, State of North Carolina, Volume 16, page 1019, Roster of the the Cont. Line of North Carolina.  The records of the War Dept., Washington, D.C. show that a Lewis Brewer served in the Revolutionary War as a private in Captain Byrum's Co., N.C. Militia.  His name appears on an undated roll of Capt. Byrum's Co. of Militia, taken from the 7th of April, 1781."  (J. D. Haydon; database - unknown2;, 2006.)
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3. June Brewer Welsch, Brewer Family History, 1170 Ripley Ct., Muscatine, IA, 52761, 1993: pg. unk.
      "Lewis Brewer was born about 1760 in Devonshire England.  Lewis and his mother came to America when Lewis was about 14 years old.  Along with them were other Brewer families.  The ship that they sailed on was ship wrecked somewhere near Cape Hatterus (sic), North Carolina.  Lewis and his mother Mary Elizabeth were sponsored by Samuel Russell of Burke County, North Carolina.  After living on Samuel Russell's plantation for a while, Mary Elizabeth married Samuel Russell.  Lewis being young and living on the farm, was sometimes referred to as Lewis Russell.  In that time of history, emigrants that had endured many hardships to come to America, were about to lose their freedoms that they had sacrificed for. Lewis then decided he would join the war to try and keep the freedoms that were being taken from them.
      On July 20 1778, Lewis Brewer enlisted in the 10th Regiment as a Private in the North Carolina, Continental Line.  He was assigned to the 'Ballards Company' and served 9 months (taken from Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina, in the American Revolution).  After the war Lewis migrated into Virginia."  (Vicki Rice, Jan Hollon, Timothy J. Barron, & Grant Pinnix; database - lowe_phillips,  :3225079,  tjbarro, & grantpinnix;, 2005-6.)
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4. D. W. Harris and B. M. Hulse, The History of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, W. H. Stansbury and Company, 24 Natchez St., New Orleans, LA, 1886; reprinted in "Historic Claiborne", Claiborne Parish Historical Association, Homer, LA, 1962: pg. 100.  (
      "(Nettie Mae Brewer, of Independence, Virginia, provides this copy of a letter from Samuel Russell to Lewis and Agnes Brewer, written from Russellville February 14, 1830.  Miss Brewer has given permission to print the letter.  Russellville was the first parish seat in Claiborne.  Miss Brewer is a great niece of Samuel Russell, a brother of her great grandfather, Lewis Brewer, Sr.  This letter is of unusual interest and significance).
      Russvill Parish of Clairborn, La.  Fby 7th
      Most affectionate Brothers and Sisters: I received yours of the 18th November 1829  I received on the 30th day of December in the same date which was within six weeks from the Date thire of (thereof), it gives me great pleasure to hear from you all and to hear that you were all well and doing fine, more over it was pleasant to me to know that you had received one letter from me out of ten, you write to me to inform you of the increase of my family, we are of an increasing breed, my wife has had eleven children, six boys and five girls.  David, my oldest son married Betsy Brazel, a fine girl, she brought him three children, but to her displeasure of the first day of November last, she departed this life.  Tho he is better prepared to take care of his Little ones, then many a man who has been left with the same mother, he has got fine negro woman to take care of them and a good old motherinlaw to see to it.  My oldest daughter Tabitha is married to one, Issac Thorinton, she has three sons, David living about 25 miles from me.  Tabitha is three miles of me, they both are doing well.  William, the third child was born a cripple by a skire (scare), has become insane.  Rachel and Nancy and Samuel and Philip, Luvincy and Betsy yet.  Lewis is no more.  I have had a great Reason to be thankful to my Creator for the blessing that he has bestowed on me and my family.  I can insure you that if ever a man injoid (enjoyed) pleasure in the family I have in mine, for in their prudence they are ranked in the first class of people in our country and ought is not against the first one of them.  You wrote to me to let you know how I come on in this world, as it is your wish to know, I give you a small account.
      First of My Standing with the people in this County
      I moved here in 1822 when there was 18 family in the bounds of this County.  I was put into office and as the settlements increased and got stronger, I laid the foundation for a new Parish, and being in favor with the Judges and Lawyers at a general Review in the town of Natchitoches I was introduced to Governor Johnson and after sometime I explained the situation of our settlement to him, he said that if I draw a draft and send it to the Legislator that he would do his best to give us a new parish.  I don so and he was as good as his word.  I had the management of the whole and when the town was Laid for the seat of justice, I was appointed to do it.  The people were so pleased it was their choice that, the name of the town should be Russelvill in Remembrance of me.  My situation of life is such I have plenty to live on.  I have 75 head of meat cattle and a good farm on which I make one hundred clear money a year besides what supports my family.  I have one Likely Negro man, and four horses and I don't owe one dollar in the state.  I cribed one thousand bushels of corn this last season and made 2,830 pounds of seed cotton besides, oates, potatoes a plenty, corn is worth 50 cents per bushel, cotton 9 dollars per hundred when ginned.  I send to New Orleans once a year for sugar, and coffee and other things such as I need.  I trade in horses, teams, sometimes.  I have ten other teams, but one in fact, the property that I hold would command two thousand dollars, if I was to say so.
      David belongs to the Baptist Church, as for my part, I am in no society, but a true believer in God and pin my faith in him, and not in man, and as your thinking, we can meet in the world to come, if you will look where the Sadducees questioned our Saviour, saying there was one woman, who had seven brothers to her husband, whose wife was she to be in the Last Day.  He said, 'there was neither marriage nor given in marriage there, for if the husband and wife is not known to Each other, it is certain that brothers won't.  It may turn out that we may see each other in this life yet it would be a pleasing site to me to see you or any of my Relations or acquaintances.  Don't forget to write to me and let me know how you and all the rest of my people are that is in your knowledge.  Remember me to Phillip, Russel, and Rebecca, and to all of your children and also to all inquiring friends.
      So I shall conclude by assorbing (ascribing?) myself your Most Effectionate Brother until Death, place your Faith in God and not in men and I hope there will be no danger.
      Samul Russel (Samuel Russell)

To Lewis Brewer and Agniss, his wife.  Letter addressed as follows -
Alenfsetelment Feb. 14, 1830.  Lewis Brewer, Elk Creek, State of Virginia, post office, in Grayson County"  (The town of Russellville, Louisiana, was abandoned before the Civil War and no longer exists.)
      The will of Lewis Brewer dated February 21, 1839, explicitly indicated his wife's name as Agatha, not Agnes.  Accordingly, she has been identified with reasonable confidence as Agatha Holland, daughter of George Holland.  Moreover, it would seem that Agatha's older brother, William, was married to Rebecca Russell, apparently, as his second wife and, thus, Rebeckah Russell, wife of Philip Russell, Jr., was his step-daughter as asserted elsewhere.  Clearly, this supports the presumption of a close relationship between the Russell and Brewer families (and the Holland family as well).  (Dorothy Taylor (sub.), "Samuel Russell Letter, 1830, Claiborne Parish, LA",, 2002.)
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5. According to the work of Ms. Linda Cuff-Cornett, Philip Russell, Sr., was the son of William Russell, Jr., and Rebecca Louise Witherden.  (Presumably, they were also the parents of the other Russell brothers, Samuel and William.)  She further states that William Russell, Jr., son of Lord William Russell, Sr., was born May 29, 1721, in County Kent, England and died in 1784 in Surry County, Virginia.  Evidently, William, Jr., emigrated to Virginia and Philip, Sr., was born in Surry County.  Moreover, it appears that the Russell family of County Kent were titled.  Although, it was not unheard of for "black sheep" scions of noble families to emigrate from the mother country to the colonies, it was not particularly common.  Moreover, other competing genealogies of the Russell family state at least two other birthdates for William Russell, Jr., i.e., June 23, 1700, and June 23, 1717, and provide no convincing evidence that he (or any of his children) moved to Virginia.  Therefore, until stronger evidence supporting this pedigree appears, the parentage of Philip Russell, Sr., must be regarded as unknown.  (Linda Cuff-Cornett ; database - :1016706;, 2002.)
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Additional Citations:

6. Will Bk. 2, 1839-1849, Grayson Co., VA, pgs. 3-4.

7. Murtie June Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign in the Revolutionary War - Vol. 1, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimare, MD, 1981: pgs. 173, 377, & 404.  (Reprinted by the Clearfield Co. in 1999)

8. Shirley Campbell Ramos and Patricia Campbell Kratz, Descendants of Phillip and Rebecca Russell, Gregath Publishing Co., P. O. B. 505, Wyandotte, OK, 74370, 1997: pgs. 1-5.

9. Henry Hardy Catron, The Kettenring Family in America, 1619 N. 19th St., Springfield, IL, 1956.  (Reprinted by Unigraphic, Inc., Evansville, IN)

10. John Simpson (chief ed.), Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, continuously updated.  (Available electronically at

11. Montgomery Alan (Monty) Lee, "The Lee - Beckwith Family",, 2002.

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