Oliver Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill bigraphy, stories - Viceroy of India

Oliver Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill : biography

19 February 1869 - 7 July 1935

(Arthur) Oliver Villiers Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill GCSI, GCIE, DL, JP (19 February 1869 – 7 July 1935) was a British peer, rower and administrator who served as the Governor of Madras from October 1900 to February 1906 and acted as the Viceroy of India from April to December 1904.

Oliver Russell was born on 19 February 1869 to Odo Russell, 1st Baron Ampthill and Lady Emily Russell in Rome and was educated at Eton and Oxford. Oliver Russell succeeded to the barony of Ampthill at the age of 15 on the death of his father.

Russell served as the Assistant Private Secretary to Joseph Chamberlain in 1895 to 1897 and then Private Secretary from 1897 to 1900, when he was appointed Governor of Madras. At the age of 31, Russell became the youngest-ever to be appointed Governor of Madras and served from 1900 to 1906. Russell also served as the Viceroy of India from April to December 1904, when Lord Curzon was re-elected for a second term.

International Olympic Committee

Between 1894 and 1898, Lord Ampthill was a member of the original International Olympic Committee.

Governor of Madras

Russell was appointed Governor of Madras on 5 September 1900. At the age of 31, Russell was the youngest-ever to become Governor of Madras. Russell served from 1900 to 1906, his tenure almost contemporaneous with that of George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston as Viceroy of India. As governor, he inaugurated the King Institute in Madras. Russell also inaugurated the Cochin State Forest Tramway on 3 October 1905. On 4 December 1903, he inaugurated the Rangaraya Medical College in Cocanada.

During Russell's tenure, the Oriya Movement for the creation of a separate province of Orissa gathered stream. However, Russell, as governor of Madras, was strongly opposed to the demands for separation of the Oriya-speaking tracts of Vizagapatam and Ganjam districts from Madras.

Viceroy of India

When Lord Curzon's tenure came to an end in 1904, Russell was chosen to act as the Viceroy of India until the appointment of a new Viceroy. Russell served from April to December 1904 as Viceroy of India. During his tenure, the proponments of a separate province of Orissa submitted a petition to this effect to Russell. However, Russell rejected all demands to create a separate province of Orissa and include areas from Madras Presidency in it.

As Viceroy, Russell was loyal to Curzon and successfully countered the efforts of St John Brodrick, 1st Earl of Midleton, the Secretary of State for India who wanted to introduce anti-Curzon policies. However, he was unsuccessful against Lord Kitchener who tightened his stranglehold over the military department.


Portrait of Arthur Russell as OUBC president Lord Ampthill started rowing at Eton. His record of rowing was one of the longest of his time at Eton and he first had an oar in the Dreadnought on 1 March 1885, going on to be Captain of the Boats in 1887 and 1888.

Whilst at New College, Oxford Ampthill rowed for Oxford three times against Cambridge in the Boat Race (1889 to 1891), winning twice. He was president of both OUBC and the Oxford Union in 1891.

After Oxford, he rowed for Leander Club for a short while then moved to London Rowing Club, becoming club president in 1893, a position he remained in for almost 40 years until his death in 1935.

Ampthill raced in the Ladies' Challenge Plate at Henley Royal Regatta for Eton in 1886, 1887 and 1888. In 1889 he raced both the Grand Challenge Cup and the Silver Goblets, losing in the final of the latter by 2 foot to CUBC in a race which the Henley records for the year describe as "One of the best and closest races ever seen" . In 1890 he again competed in both events, this time racing under New College colours, and collected his first Henley medal, rowing with Guy Nickalls in the Goblets.

In 1891, racing this time as Leander, Lord Ampthill was in the crew which won the Grand Challenge Cup, setting a new course record. He also repeated his Goblets win, again with Guy Nickalls.

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Living octopus

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