Record

Call numberms38973/RF
TitleRussell Family Papers
CollectionTullis Russell Paper Mills Collection
Date1741-1970
DescriptionRussell Family papers consisting of family photographs, legal papers (leases, business agreements, deeds of trust), family history research notes, personal and business correspondence, newspaper cuttings of family eulogies, financial accounts (share accounts, Trust accounts) and family trees.
Extent6 boxes
Admin historyROBERT RUSSELL OF TAILABOUT, GEORGE RUSSELL AND CHRISTIAN WALKER
The Russell family were a Fife farming family 'inwrought with much of the kingdom's best estate' having already, by the early nineteenth century, farmed the land about Cupar for several generations. George Russell, an enterprising farmer and younger son of Robert Russell of Tailabout and Janet Fleming of Craig, bought the farm of Collessie Mills about 6 miles from Cupar in the first half of the nineteenth century. He would later move to a farm at Hatton in the Parish of Largo. George married Christian Walker, daughter of Arthur Walker of Skelpie and Agnes Millar, Laird of the Tor of Kedlock, near Cupar. The Walkers, like the Russells, were a Fife farming family. Several of their family members also went into the church, for instance, George Walker, who was Minister at the Parish of Kinnell and a Doctor of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. He was highly reputed for his classical and historical learning and wrote an exhaustive History of the Church of Scotland. George's brother, John of Homelands, founded a Trust in his memory in the later nineteenth century. Sir David Russell, George Russell, Arthur Russell and William Tullis would administer and enlarge this Trust using it especially to help the University of St Andrews.

AGNES RUSSELL AND WILLIAM TULLIS
George Russell and Christian Walker had six children - Agnes, Robert, George, Arthur, Jessy and David (1) in that order. Agnes was born in 1817. She attended school at Edinburgh and in 1846 married William Tullis, representing the close personal ties made between the Tullis and Russell families before they officially went into business together. The couple never had children but lived out the remainder of their lives at Rothes Cottage, where their home was a liberal and literary social centre of the community. Throughout her life, Agnes Russell remained a generous donor to the Church and Manse of Cults where she had been baptised. She also thought to the care of the employees at the mill, foreshadowing later welfare provision. Mr. Tullis meanwhile, gave several significant sums of money to the University of St. Andrews and Madras College for the institution of prizes in Mathematics, Classics and Political Economy throughout his life. Agnes outlived her husband and most of her other siblings and later came to be regarded as 'formidable' Aunt Tullis by the younger Russell and Tullis generations.

JESSY RUSSELL, GEORGE RUSSELL (2), ROBERT RUSSELL
Agnes' sister, Jessy Russell, never married. Instead she lived with her brother George and her widowed mother. She too was a benefactor of the Church of Scotland and enjoyed collecting sermons which she wrote out in her own hand. She was also a skilled weaver. The third brother, George, farmed Hatton after his father's death. He was a prominent figure in the farming community and was member of the Highland Agricultural Society, the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture and the local Farmers' Club. The eldest brother, Robert, was also a farmer of Kilwhiss in the Parish of Cults, then tenant at Pilmuir near Largo and had a sheep farm at Balmaha on Loch Lomond. He was especially interested in the scientific principles of farming on which he lectured, in the UK, US, Cuba, Canada and Ireland. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He married Miss Isabella Landale and they had four children, only one of whom, George, survived. Robert died just three days after his 10 year old daughter passed away, most likely of Scarlet Fever which he caught off her.

ARTHUR RUSSELL
It was the two remaining brothers, Arthur and David, who became partners in R. Tullis & Co. in 1874, a company which would go on to become the hugely successful Tullis Russell & Co. Ltd. in the twentieth century. Arthur Russell remained a banker all his life after doing an apprenticeship with the Western Bank at an early age. When the Western Bank failed in 1857, he opened the first branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Cupar. He was also a Justice of the Peace, a Governor at the Bell-Baxter School, a Director of the Cupar Educational Trust and an active member of the Fife Light Horse. He was also a famous shooter, hunter and chess player locally. In 1864 he married Miss Margaret Reid and the two lived at Preston Lodge in Cupar, it is reported that his was the first house to have electricity in Cupar.

DAVID RUSSELL (1)
David Russell (1) (1831-1906), the youngest son of the family, had from an early age shown promising industrial enterprise. In 1854, he bought and rebuilt Silverburn and started a flax retting business there. When it was clear the flax industry was on the decline, he also took out a lease at the Largo Oil Mills and started the manufacture of Cotton Cake which was a new and highly successful venture for Scotland. Following this, he purchased an old sugar mill at Burntisland where he carried on the prosperous business of seed crushing and the manufacture of linseed oil and cotton cake. In 1891, the business was amalgamated with two other smaller businesses at Burntisland and registered as a limited company with a capital of £40,000. By the end of the century it had been bought by British Oil and Cake Mills Ltd. In 1874, David went into partnership with Robert Tullis of R. Tullis & Co. Ltd. writing in his diary in July 1874 'I have given up the management of the seed crushing business and have become a paper maker.' He jointly managed the firm until his death in 1906 after which his third son David Russell (2), whom he had with his wife, Janet Hutchinson, took over. Asides from R. Tullis & Co. he continued to run the Largo Oil Mills and the flax retting at Silverburn as well as a number of overseas projects - Assam Tea in India, sugar in Australia and timber in America.

SIR DAVID RUSSELL (1872-1956) (2)
Born the third son of David Russell senior (1831-1906) and Janet Hutchinson, David Russell (2), later Sir David Russell, was educated at Clifton Bank School, St Andrews before entering the family paper business, working first at the company's merchant house in Edinburgh. While in Edinburgh he attended evening classes at Heriot Watt College, studying Engineering, Botany and Geology. From the mid-1890s, he worked in partnership with his elder brother, Robert Russell (1871-1939), in modernising R. Tullis & Company's mills, developing new product lines and expanding the company's markets.

In 1899, Sir David Russell was formally made a partner in Robert Tullis and Company. A decade later in 1906, the business underwent restructuring and was re-named Tullis Russell and Company. Also in this year, Sir David (2) became a Director of the company upon the death of his father, David Russell senior (1). His keen eye for business and for innovation saw the company continue to grow in the decades which followed. In 1925, he organised a buy-out of the Tullis family interest in the company, seeing him becoming effective sole head of the company for the next 30 years. Sir David gained the reputation as an enlightened employer throughout his career, fostering a "family" atmosphere contemporary with the Cadbury Bournville experience in and around the mills.

In 1912, he married Alison Blyth (1890 - 1958), daughter of the industrialist Francis Blyth of Belvedere, Kent. They would have 5 children in total: Catherine Alison (1913-1951), David Francis Oliphant (1915-1993), John Patrick Oliphant (1918-1944), Sheila Felicity Oliphant (b.1921) and Margaret Anne Oliphant (b.1924). From the mid-1900s, Sir David gained increasing oversight of family financial affairs, notably in connection with the increasingly complicated financial affairs of his brother, Robert Russell and the settlement of the estate of his other brother, Major George Russell (1869-1942). He also became increasingly the custodian of the family's extensive written and photographic archives.

Out with papermaking, his business interests extended to include his father's legacy of tea production in Assam (India) and sugar production in Queensland (Australia) but also land-reclamation in 1920s-1930s Italy, an impressive international shares portfolio and land holdings in New Zealand. The wealth that this brought to Sir David Russell allowed him to become a generous benefactor and patron of numerous institutions, schemes and individuals. Institutions and major schemes supported by Russell included: the University of St Andrews; the renovation of the former Cathedral Church and monastery of Iona together with the Iona Fellowship; the National Trust for Scotland; the Recording Scotland programme and major archaeological excavations of Byzantine sites in Turkey. Among the individuals supported by Sir David in numerous ways were the Russian exile Alexis Aladin and the noted neo-Christian mystic Major Wellesley Tudor Pole with whom Russell had a life-long friendship. Much of the financial support provided by Russell, especially to institutions and schemes, was routed through the numerous trusts with which Russell was either involved or which he himself founded. These included the personal and family trusts: the Walker Trust; the Russell (Markinch) Trust; the (Sir David) Russell Trust; the Russell Trust; the Major George Russell Trust. Also prominent was The Pilgrim Trust (founded in 1930 by Edward Stephen Harkness of New York, United States).

Sir David Russell was also a fellow of a number of learned societies. These included the Royal Society of Arts, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Society of Antiquaries, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the Botanical Society of Edinburgh and the Linnean Society. His support for the University of St Andrews led to him being awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University in 1922 and to his knighthood in 1946. He died at Silverburn House, the same house in which he had been born, on 12th May 1956.

DAVID FRANCES OLIPHANT RUSSELL (& JOHN PATRICK RUSSELL)
Sir David Russell (1872-1956) and Alison Blyth's eldest son was David Frances Oliphant Russell (1916-1993) who was born in 1915 at Rothes House. After schooling at Sedbergh and three years at the University of St. Andrews, he served in the 7th Black Watch Battalion during WW2. He was awarded the Military Cross at the battle of El Alamein where he was seriously wounded. He was seriously wounded again at Le Havre where he took part in the Normandy landings in 1944. After this, he was valeted out. For the rest of his life, he would be affectionately known as 'Major Russell.' Returning from the war, he married Catherine Joan Robinson (b.1918) in 1945 with whom he had four daughters.

He succeeded to his father's business as Chairman of Tullis Russell Ltd, Paper manufacturers, after Sir David's death in 1956. He would not retire from the company until 1985. After this his nephew, David Erdal, son of Sheila Felicity Oliphant Russell and Albert Edward Erdal (1904-1974) took over leadership of the company. Major Russell's leadership of the company was notable for his establishment of a connection with the Department of Social and Occupational Medicine in the University of Dundee to enhance the provision of welfare for his employees. It was his firm belief, as had been his father's, that an independent well managed company could be the most efficient, flexible and humanitarian form of business enterprise. Acting as Chairman of the Russell Trust (which had been established in 1947 in memory of his brother, John Patrick Russell, who died in Italy during WW2) he gave full voting control of the Russell Trust to the company rather than the Russell family. The Trust had initially been given 25% of the shares in Tullis Russell, the proportion Patrick Russell would have inherited had he lived. Before D.F.O. Russell's changes, the Trustees were made up of both Russell Family Trustees and Management Trustees chosen from the senior members of Tullis Russell & Co. Ltd. After 1975, the favour was weighted towards the company with the aim that the Trust would act as custodian of the family philosophy of the company. He also hoped these changes would safeguard the Trust from the feared selfish family interests of the next generation. The Trust was, and still is, a source of many benefactions to many Scottish charities, especially those serving children and education, patron of the University of St. Andrews in particular.

D.F.O. Russell had many links with educational institutions. In 1963 he joined the Court of the University of St Andrews as Chancellor's Assessor and served as Finance Convener from 1964-1977. Additionally, he was awarded a C.B.E. (1969) and an honorary D.Sc. (1973) from Heriot Watt University in recognition of his innovative excellence as papermaker and employer. Finally, he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1974 and made LL.D. by the University of St Andrews in 1977.

His other interests included continuing his family's long association with the Scottish island of Iona where he had a family house and enjoyed sailing with his wife and four daughters. He with the transfer of the island to the care of the National Trust for Scotland in 1979 and was personally involved with the subsequent restoration and archaeological development there. His father had been one of the earliest supporters of the National Trust. He was also a member of the Queen's Bodyguard of Archers in Scotland and Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Fife. He cared passionately for Scotland and the countryside, especially for forestry and enjoyed fishing on the River Naver.

D.F.O. Russell died in 1993.
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