Transcription © Copyright E.C. ("Paddy") Apling Julu 2011 (from digital copy provided by the authors).
© T. E. & M. Miller 2011
The family originates from the small Cathedral town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire and can be traced back to Simon Southwell in the early thirteenth century. Sir John de Southwell, probably the son of Simon was Senescal2 of the Duchy of Gascony in 1285, and was granted for life by King Edward I the castle of Bordeaux for his services and for rendering himself an hostage for the liberty of King Charles of Sicily, who was a prisoner in Aragon. He served as a judge to hear and adjust complaints in the Isle of Man, and in 1292 he was requested by the King to help him recover Gascony which had revolted.
Simon's great grandson John moved to Essex where he married Joan Fudell of Kildenhall Manor. He was created King Edward III's chief officer in the county of Cork, Ireland, for life in 1349. His son Richard was High Sheriff of Kent. His son Nicholas was groom of the bedchamber to King Richard II and sent by him in 1388 to take credentials to the King of France. The eldest son, John, married Margaret Filliol of Felix Ha1l3, Kelvedon, Essex, and Felix Hall became the family seat. It is from John's and Margaret's son, another John, that two lines of the family are established in the Tudor period, one in Suffolk and one in Norfolk.
The Southwells of Suffolk
The Suffolk branch of the family never reached the prominence of their Norfolk cousins, although it is from this line that the later Viscounts Southwell are descended. John Southwell the eldest son of John Southwell of Felix Hall, Essex, became established in Suffolk in the fifteenth century at about the same time as his brother Robert arrived in Norfolk. John, who represented the Borough of Lewes in Parliament in 1451, lived at, but did not own, Barham Hall near Ipswich, Suffolk. John was married twice, firstly to Joan the daughter of William Curson of Brightwell, Suffolk and secondly to Alice Bardolf the widow of Sir Thomas Bardolf and the daughter of Sir Edmund Berry. John died in 1488; it is uncertain how many children he had but he certainly had one son Robert, who also lived at Barham.
Robert, who became Sergeant at Law and Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1494 was married to Celia the daughter of Thomas Sharrington of Cranworth, Norfolk. Cranworth is the adjacent village to Woodrising, the seat of the Norfolk Southwells. Robert and Celia had three sons, John, Thomas and William and a daughter Elizabeth. William married Elizabeth the daughter of John Fulnethby but died without issue. Elizabeth married Simon Sampson of Kersey, Suffolk. Nothing is known of Thomas but John, the eldest son, who married Elizabeth the daughter of Robert Foster of Birch, Essex, remained at Barham after the death of his father who was buried in Barham church in 1514.
John was granted the Manor and the advowson of the church of Barham in 1545 for a fee of £195 15s 9½d and continued to live there with Elizabeth and their four sons, John, William, Robertand Thomas and six daughters, Cecille, Frances, Margaret, Grace, Prudence and Elizabeth. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Suffolk in 1538 and 1543, a Commissioner for Ipswich gaol in 1541 and Commissioner for Sewers for Suffolk in 1547. In 1556 he was executor of the will of Henry Toyle of Ipswich, who left money for ten almshouses for the poor in Ipswich. He also officiated at several inquisitions post mortem in Suffolk.
The eldest son John inherited the manor of Barham and lived there until his death in 1612. He married Margaret Crofts of West Stow in 1563 and they had seventeen children. However, he was the last Southwell to live at Barham. From his will it is obvious that he wanted Barham to remain in the Southwell family. He initially left the manor to his wife Margaret for the rest of her life, thereafter it was to go to his eldest son Robert or Robert's male heirs, or his next son and his heirs and so on. Robert had married in 1597 and had seven children but they all died before he did in 1629. Three of John's sons, Richard, John and Edmund, with financial help from their father, went to Ireland. Richard lived at Singland, County Limerick. He was knighted in Ireland and was Deputy Governor of Clare. He died unmarried and without issue in 1640. John married and had two daughters and a son, Richard, who died before his father. Edmund was successful in Ireland. He married Catherine Herbert of Rathkule and resided at Castle Mattress, Limerick. It is from Edmund that the current Viscount Southwell line is descended. The father, John of Barham, was generous in his will to his children, although Richard and Edmund did not receive any money as they had been given money to go to Ireland. His son John, however, was to receive an extra £50 to further his advancement, but it was to come from money that Richard owed his father. He obviously fully approved of his daughter Eleanor's choice of husband as he left, "To Eleanor for her marriage to Thomas Pooley gent doctor of Physick with my privite consent and good likinge and have satisfied him with a good porcion of money as I formerly intended unto her for the good liking of her said husband." On the other hand he does not mention his eldest daughter, Ursula, perhaps because she was well catered for, having married Sir Thomas Richardson of Honningham, Norfolk, who became Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas under Charles I. On his death he was buried in Barham church and an alter tomb was provided by his son Robert. His wish for the Barham estate to remain in the family was not fulfilled. Richard sold a large part of the estate and John sold the remainder to John Lambe.
The Southwells of Norfolk
The family association with Norfolk begins with the marriage of Robert, the younger brother of the first John of Barham, to Isobel the daughter of John Boyes of Norfolk. Little information is available on Robert but in 1431, when with Thomas Radclyf of Lancaster he provided sureties for a grant to John de Radclyf, he is referred to as Robert Southwell of county Hertford, gentleman. He possibly lived at Weston near Baldock in Hertfordshire as in 1489 his son Richard held the manor there. John and Robert may have had a brother William; in 1446 a grant for life of the office of Water-bailiff in Ireland was made to William Southwell for long service in the King's wars in France and Normandy in which he was taken prisoner and held to ransom.
It is Robert's son Richard, who through his marriage4 in 1466 to Amy the coheir and eldest of the four daughters of Edmund Witchingham of Conningsby, Lincolnshire, established the family at Woodrising, Norfolk. The manor of Woodrising was held by the de Rising family in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries and eventually passed to William de Witchingham whose wife Margaret may have been an heiress of the de Risings. The lordship of the manor then passed down the Witchingham family to Edmund in 1433 and thence to his daughter Amy.
Amy Witchingham's sister, Joan Boyes, is the subject of a letter from John Paston to Richard Southwell. The letter relates a misfortune that befell her. It appears that she was ravished5 against her will and taken from Norfolk to Lincolnshire by Robert Langstrather, whom she had refused to marry.
During the fifteenth century Norfolk and Suffolk were dominated by the rich and powerful Mowbray and De la Pole families. There was considerable antagonism between the two families, especially during the lives of John Mowbray, the third Duke of Norfolk and William De la Pole, first Duke of Suffolk. The Southwell family were allied to the Mowbrays and Richard was a retainer or servant6 of John Mobray. At this time he was living at Framlingham, Suffolk, the seat of the Duke of Norfolk. While there he and the Duke of Norfolk and several others were the subject of a commission, which included the Duke of Suffolk, to look into a complaint by Sir Robert Wingfield. Wingfield complained that they had brought by night carts and waggons with cannons and other engines of war to Letheringham, Suffolk, besieged the houses of his manor there and hurled stones at them, which broke the walls, towers and chimneys. They sawed asunder the posts and beams of several houses and set coals of fire in the litters of the beds and in his growing corn, completely burning one house. They broke into the park, hunted and carried off deer. They also assaulted his men and servants and took goods to the value of over £1300
During the second half of the fifteenth century the Southwell name appears increasingly in government matters, with Richard being appointed to a number of commissions and administrative posts. Richard was the Member of Parliament for Yarmouth in 1455 and Escheator of Norfok in 1455-6, 1459-60 and 1474. In 1461 he was granted an annuity of 20 marks7 until he was provided for life with an office with fees of that value. In 1462 Richard was appointed to the office of Marshal of the Exchequer with its accustomed fees during the minority of the son of the Duke of Norfolk. In 1475, with Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury and others, Richard was made responsible for the Duke's manors in Suffolk and Essex, while the Duke was across the sea with the King. He was part of a commission, in 1469, to arrest John Bemey of Witchingham, Nicholas Abbes, John Spynke and John Felbrigge and commit them to prison and to bring them before the King in council. They were accused of hindering the collection of fees by the Receiver General. In 1477, he is again involved with the affairs of Yarmouth; this time as a member of a commission into a complaint by two Prussian merchants. At this time trade with Germany was an important part of the English economy and any problems were taken seriously. Henry Faute and Hamo Barambroke had complained that a ship called "la Mary" of Danske, captained by Peter Eybryght, laden with goods and merchandise to the value of £600, while sailing off Yarmouth was driven ashore by evil doers who stole the cargo. This they claimed was contrary to the friendship between the King and Almain8 and the offenders should be arrested and imprisoned and restitution made. In 1482, he was a commissioner examining Thomas and Margaret Brygge regarding certain felonies, murders, trespasses and offences committed by them. An unusual commission was one in 1491 when he had to determine whether Sir William Parker was a lunatic from birth or from what date and whether he alienated9 his lands when in that state. From 1496 to 1504 he was a Commissioner of the Peace for Norfolk.
Richard and his wife Amy had two sons, Robert and Francis, and four daughters, Elizabeth, Katherine, Alice and Amy. After his wife's death Richard married, in 1488, the widow Katherine Sturges and had four more daughters Katherine, Ursula, Amy and Elizabeth. The status of the Southwell family in East Anglian society is reflected in the marriages of Richard's daughters, who largely married members of the minor aristocracy of the region. The elder Katherine married Sir Anthony Hansart (Hansard) of Hatchwood manor, March, Cambridgeshire, a servant of Thomas Wolsey. They are buried in St. Mary's church, March. The gravestone has Sir Anthony in armour and a surcoat and Katharine in gown and mantle with an angular head-dress typical of the reign of Henry VIII. Alice and Amy married into the Bemey family of Norfolk. Alice married John Bemey of Reedham and Amy was the second wife of Ralph Bemey of Great Witchingham. These two branches ofthe Bemey family are descended from Sir Thomas Bemey a merchant of Norwich, who died in 1374. Ralph Bemey was the freehold tenant of the manor of Berghapton and that is probably where they resided. John Bemey's father had died when he was only twelve and he was made a ward of the crown. The wardship was held by Alice's father who thereby would have had control of his marriage. The younger Katharine married Edmund Jenny of Intwood Hall, Norfolk. Ursula married John Curs on of Beck Hall, Bylaugh, Norfolk. Amy married William Wotton of North Tuddenham, Norfolk. William Wotton trained as a lawyer at Lincoln's Inn in 1493 and was made a Baron of the Exchequer in 1521. Elizabeth the youngest daughter married Robert Crane from Chilton, Suffolk. It is not known when Richard died but the Woodrising estate passed to Robert his eldest son. The other son, Francis, became a lawyer and a member of Lincoln's Inn and was an auditor of the exchequer during the reign of Henry VIII. He married Dorothy the daughter and coheir of William Tendring and lived at Wymondhams Manor, Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk. They had four sons Richard, Robert, Francis and Anthony who all played a part in the Tudor administration.
3 Also known as Filliol's Hall.
4 Possibly his second marriage.
5 Carried off against her will. The word may also imply violation.
6 Not a domestic servant but a person with allegiance.
7 One mark = 13s 4d, £2/3.
© Transcription Copyright E.C. ("Paddy") Apling, July 2011.