Thomas Russell CMG (c.1830–1904) was a lawyer, politician, businessman and entrepreneur in 19th-century New Zealand. Russell was one of the first two New Zealand-trained lawyers admitted to the bar. He was the founder of a number of major New Zealand-based companies including the Bank of New Zealand and the New Zealand Insurance Co. He served as Minister of Colonial Defence during the New Zealand Wars.
Thomas Russell was born in County Cork, Ireland, probably in 1830. His parents were Thomas Flower Russell (c. 1808-1873) and Mary Roberts (c. 1811-1847). The family emigrated to Australia as steerage passengers in 1833, and settled in Maitland, New South Wales, where his father farmed. In 1840 the family moved on to New Zealand, living in Kororakea at first, then Auckland where his father worked as a builder. From 1844 Thomas Russell was articled to the lawyer Thomas Outhwaite and on 4 November 1851 was admitted as a solicitor on the roll of the Supreme Court of New Zealand. On 18 July 1854 he married Emeline Vercoe, third daughter of Henry Vercoe JP and niece of Walter Lawrie, the general superintendent of the Wesleyan church in New Zealand.
|Parliament of New Zealand|
|1861–1866||3rd||Auckland City East||Independent|
Russell was elected as MP for Auckland City East in 1861, holding the electorate until his retirement from politics in 1866. He became a cabinet minister under Alfred Domett in August 1862, and was Minister of Defence in the administration led by Frederick Whitaker and William Fox in 1863–1864. During this time the New Zealand Settlements Act (1863) was passed, facilitating the confiscation of Māori-owned land.
Russell was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1877.