His love of the sport began when he was at school at Blundells in Tiverton. His love affair with dog breeding began when he was desperately trying to make up for lost time while studying at University.One day, he was reading in a field when a man passed him, walking a dog. Russell watched the dog, a fox terrier bitch, and saw many characteristics which would be useful to a huntsman. There and then, he negotiated to buy the dog from the stranger, called his purchase "Trump" and started to breed from her. Her first litter were the progenitors of all the Jack Russells of today and he kept the breeding programme going throughout most of his adult life.
John Russell's fame as a huntsman reached the ears of the Prince of Wales and he soon became a favoured companion of Prince Edward and many other members of the royal family, even being invited to Sandringham and being asked to preach in the church there.
The death of his wife Penelope after 49 years of marriage was a bitter blow from which her never really recovered. A sinecure living was found for him at Black Torrington and reluctantly, he moved away from Swimbridge. The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould records hearing a man talking about his on a coach journey. He is reported to have summed him up as follows: "He be very fond of dogs, I allow; he likes his bottle of port, I grant you that but he's a proper gentleman and a Christian."
Unsurprisingly when Francis Barraud painted the picture below ( which he called Dog looking at and listening to a Phonograph) in 1898, he chose a Jack Russell as his model. The picture later became known as "His Master's Voice" forever to be associated with the record company of that name - an image which spread throughout the world. Parson Russell was dead by then but his lively and slightly comical little dogs lived on.