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Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians (Family History (Pen & Sword))


Russell is an English surname of Norman origin. The aristocratic Russell family claim descent from Hugue de Roussel, who came over with the Conqueror as a high-ranking attendant and was granted land in Dorset. The Russells trace their surname from Roussel in Normandy, whose name comes from the Old French for “stream, brook”.

The head of the family would arrange dowries for his daughters when they married, and he might give some capital to the younger sons. However, in order to keep the family’s wealth centralized and alive, preferably in perpetuity, he relied on a system that was as logically practical as it was ruthlessly clinical. One head of a very substantial aristocratic family says of primogeniture, “This is the only way of keeping estates or collections together, other than gifting to a charity. However, it can often cause feelings of guilt for the heir, or jealousy for the other children.”


An Aristocratic Regal Family Portrait by Sheblackdragon on deviantART

Themistocles’ father, Neocles, came of the aristocratic Lycomid family and was not poor, but his mother was a concubine, non-Athenian and possibly non-Greek. He thus owed his citizenship to the legislation of , which in 508 had made citizens of all free men of . This no doubt contributed to Themistocles’ democratic sympathies. In 493 he was elected , the chief judicial and civilian executive officer in ; this is the first recorded event of his life. As archon, he sponsored the first public works destined to make the defensible rocky of , five miles from Athens, into , replacing the nearer but unprotected of Phaleron. He must also have been concerned in the trial of , the great Athenian aristocrat and , who arrived in flight from the (Gallipoli Peninsula) and was prosecuted by aristocratic rivals for having ruled there as a . Themistocles himself took a cool view of Miltiades’ autocratic character, but his judgment was not at fault if he helped to save the strategist and tactician who in 490 had beat off the first Persian attack on Athens at .