THE late editor of the Glasgow Herald was born in Edinburgh in 1840, and educated at the Northern District School there. His first intention was to become a schoolmaster, and after five years as a pupil teacher, and a year and a half as a tutor at Sunderland, he in 1859 entered the arts classes of Edinburgh University. Next, with a view to the medical profession, he spent three years in the Faculty of Medicine. But having acquired shorthand in order to take down the professors' lectures he finally turned to journalism. In 1862 he became a reporter on the staff of the Caledonian Mercury under Mr. James Robey, and there his descriptive reports became a noted feature. In 1864 he was engaged as a descriptive writer for the Leeds Mercury, under Sir Edward Baines, and two years later, on being sent to the Metropolis by that paper, became the first regular London correspondent of a provincial daily. His instructions were to get all the news he could, and do his best for the journal, and his efforts took him everywhere. After a day spent in hurrying from the Law Courts to the police courts, from city and political meetings to the lobby of the House of Commons, and from great fires to the scenes of riots and accidents, he wrote most of his "copy" at King's Cross Station, and sent it off by the 5.30 train in time to be set for next morning's paper. Among his achievements was the securing of reports of private political meetings; and in 1867, after the introduction of Disraeli's Reform Bill, he managed to send full accounts of the conference of the Liberal leaders at Mr. Gladstone's house both to the Leeds Mercury and the Daily Telegraph. Later in that year he became literary editor of The Sportsman, carrying on the work of that post along with the duties of correspondent to several colonial and foreign newspapers.
It was in 1875 that Mr. Russell came to Glasgow, as assistant editor of the Glasgow Herald under the late Dr. Stoddart. Here his articles, vigorous, full, and accurate, soon attracted attention, and on the retirement of Dr. Stoddart in 1887, Mr. Russell succeeded to his chair. As editor of the Glasgow Herald, he exercised a vast influence, always sane and healthy, upon the public opinion, manners, and morals of Scotland for nineteen years. In his hands the Herald was developed and improved in many ways, and is surpassed to-day, for variety and fullness of intelligence, by no newspaper in the country. Dr. Russell retired from the editorship and from active life in October, 1906, and was succeeded by Dr. William Wallace, who had been his chief assistant for eighteen years.
The Institute of Journalists elected Mr. Russell President in 1892, and in the following year at the conference in London he took for the subject of his presidential address, "Individuality in Newspapers." Eight years later Glasgow University conferred upon him the degree of LL.D.
Index of Glasgow Men (1909)