The Russell name started to appear in Ireland soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion when Robert de Russell was granted lands in county Down. The main branch of this family was the Russells of Killough. They remained Catholic over the 17th and 18th centuries and experienced persecution for their beliefs and confiscation of their lands.
The Russell name has also been long associated with Limerick, with references to the name there as early as 1272. However, the main recorded presence post-dates the year 1650 when Cromwell laid siege to the town. Nathaniel Russell, a soldier in Cromwell’s army who died during the siege, was probably the forebear of later Russells. Russells were prominent merchants in Limerick in the 18th and 19th centuries.