Adeline Marie Russell, née Somers-Cocks (September 24, 1852 – April 12, 1920) was the wife of local landowner, George Russell. She was a first cousin of Virginia Woolf’s mother, who was also named Adeline in her honour. She married George Sackville Russell in 1876 and became the Duchess of Bedford when her husband succeeded as the 10th Duke in 1891. The Church Times online says that: “Tasteful décor, polite conversation, and endless ‘society’ gatherings were not enough to fulfil Russell, nor to address her abiding sense of life as a struggle — ‘a long contest between truth and falsehood’.” She was deeply concerned by the plight of the poor and worked with the Associated Workers’ League to support poor women and prostitutes in Victoria Station. Russell also fought for penal reform, as the Church Times explains: “Russell advocated a better way. Against the ‘Silent System’ associated with the Prisons Act of 1865, which sought to break convicts’ will by keeping them in total silence, she fought for reforms that showed prisoners respect as part of God’s creation, and recognised that they deserved to be treated decently. Her zeal, combined with that of the Quakers and the Evangelicals, helped to bring about the Prison Act of 1898, which defined reformation — personal redemption, and renewal of moral character — as the main purpose of prison regimes.” Just before the outbreak of the First World War, on reading about the mistreatment of political prisoners, Russell travelled to Lisbon, Portugal. The reports she wrote, as well her letters to the press and public speeches she gave on returning home, gathered together the political parties and within a year, the prisoners had been released. She was made Chair of the European War Fund, created by the Ambulance Department of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and the Red Cross, working tirelessly for the wounded and making numerous trips to the Western Front to inspect conditions and interview wounded soldiers. For this she was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1919, saving previously been made a Lady of the Grace of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in England, on August 13, 1902. When this street was first laid out in the late 18thCentury, it was called Caroline Street, which the UCL Bloomsbury Project says was probably after Caroline of Brunswick, wife of the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) from 1795. This was still the case in the 1930s, however within 20 years, it had been renamed.
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