Transcription © Copyright E.C. ("Paddy") Apling July 2011 (from digital copy provided by the authors).
© T. E. & M. Miller 2011
Henry Howard (1516?-1547), Earl of Surrey, the eldest son of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was a successful soldier and noted poet. Forty of his poems were printed in Tottel's "Songs and Sonettes" in 1557. He was unsuccessfully put forward as a husband for Princess Mary (Later Queen Mary) and eventually married Lady Frances De Vere, daughter of the Earl of Oxford, in 1532. The title Earl of Sussex was a courtesy title only, and, encouraged by his father, he implied a link to the throne by quartering his arms with those of Edward the Confessor. At the instigation of the Earl of Hertford, who at that time was the powerful favourite of the ageing Henry VIII, and with whom Henry Howard had fallen out, he was arrested and charged with high treason. In fact despite his close links to the Howards, it was Richard Southwell who notified the Privy Council that "he knew certain things of the Earl that touched his fidelity to the King," and later gave evidence against him. Although Howard claimed he had the authority of the College of Heralds to bear the arms and had done so for a considerable time with no objection from the King, he was found guilty and beheaded on Tower Hill on the 19th January, 1547.
No details of Richard's early education are available, nor is there any record of him attending university. However, like his father, who was an auditor of the exchequer, and brother Robert, he was trained in the legal profession, entering Lincoln's Inn on 3rd February, 1526. He must have been well educated as he became a tutor to Thomas Cromwell's son Gregory, who lived for a time with him in Norfolk. In a letter to Cromwell, Henry Dowes states that "a programme of French, writing, playing at weapons, casting, accounts and pastimes of instruments had been arranged by Mr. Southwell, who spares no pains, daily hearing him read the English tongue, advertising18 him of their true pronunciation and explaining the etymology of words borrowed from French and Latin."
Richard's first official office was that of Justice of the Peace for Norfolk and Suffolk in 1531, a position that he held until 1554. The following year saw Richard in trouble. The issue of the King's divorce had created considerable tensions between the various factions within the court. On 20th April, 1532, a group of the Howard's retainers at court, including Richard Southwell and his brothers Robert and Anthony, chased Sir William Pennington into the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey, where, ignoring the sanctuary of the church, Richard killed him. When the news reached Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, who was opposed to the annulment, he immediately set off with some of his men to deal with the culprits. Fortunately, a message from the King stopped him; otherwise, a bloodbath may have ensued. Brandon's men were sworn to keep the peace but one of them vowed that he would get even with the Southwells, "although it were in the king's chamber or at the high altar;" a threat that was never carried out. It is not clear what had triggered the attack but it may have stemmed from enmity between the Howards and the Brandons over dominance in East Anglia. William Pennington had married Charles Brandon's cousin and was the tenant of his manor of Costessey in Norfolk. The attackers were never brought to trial and were pardoned on 15th June. The crime proved costly to Richard as he was fined £1,00019, confirmed by an act of Parliament. In lieu of payment he gave the King his manors of Coggeshall and Filliols in Essex. However, the affair did not seriously damage his career.
As a Justice of the Peace, in 1535 he was signatory in the case against Margaret Chanseler, a spinster of Bradfield, Suffolk for uttering treasonable words. She was accused of saying that the Queen (Ann Boleyn) had one child by the King, which was dead-born, and that she prayed she might never have another, and that the Queen was "a noughtty hoore." Witnesses said she had called the Queen "a goggyl yed hoore." Her excuse was that she was drunk and did not know what she was saying.
Richard benefited from the patronage of the Howards and Thomas Cromwell, who was noted for finding appointments for his friends and servants. He was made Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1534, and in 1536 he and his brother Robert were named Receivers in the Court of Augmentations; a post Richard held until 1542. Following his resignation he was granted the preceptory and rectory of Carbrooke, Norfolk and was appointed to the Court of General Surveyors. Richard was also put in charge of the effects of Richard Nix, Bishop of Norwich. He went with Sir Thomas Russhe to Hoxne, Suffolk, from where Sir Thomas wrote to Cromwell that he was with" Mr. Southwell who is active about the burial of the bishop, which otherwise were 'a raw matter' to be compassed." Richard was also active in searching for and guarding the jewels, plate, writing and goods of the Bishop, which were of much value, and making inquiries regarding the borrowers of sums of money lent by the bishop in his lifetime. On arriving at Hoxne, Richard wrote to Cromwell that he found the house far out of order with nobody in charge. He perceived a "ravine" among the men who were without any order. He called them before him and questioned those who were suspected of taking money, plate and other things and demanded they return them. Bishop Nix, aged ninety and blind when he died, was a forlorn example of senile irresposibility who was exploited by the unscrupulous. Richard Southwell blamed Mr. Redmayne for most of the loss, which he had given away before the Bishop's death, and for leaving the Bishop's closet unlocked when he left. It appears that Redmayne could only account for £1,576 5s 10d of the £2,331 16s 11d which should have been in the Bishop's study. A few weeks later in a letter to Cromwell from Norwich, Richard writes that he is pleased that the King was happy with his work at Hoxne.
As a Receiver he dealt with the lands of the dissolved monasteries in East Anglia enabling him to acquire land from several religious houses in Norfolk. Only the Duke of Norfolk and Sir Thomas Gresham acquired more monastic land in Norfolk than Richard Southwell. Although he held this office which was an integral part of Henry VIII's reformation of the church in England, he apparently had conservative religious sympathies. At one point he even wrote an appeal on the behalf of Pentney Priory. Moreover in 1536, in a letter to Cromwell, he writes that the house of St. Faith had been viewed and was on the point of being dissolved; he adds in favour of the prior, who being suffragan20 had neither house nor living for an adequate pension, to be advanced to another house. In fact the Southwells, like many East Anglian families, although outwardly embracing the new faith, were still Catholic at heart. Richard's first gain from the dissolution was the lease of the priory of Horsham St. Faith, Norfolk, with two manors and two rectories worth £90. The priory became home to part of his family for many years. He was also not backward in asking for land for himself. In a letter to Cromwell from his home in Norfolk he writes, "When I last waited on you at court, I moved you for an order and charge of Lord Bergavenny's land in Norfolk and Suffolk. You were pleased to grant me your favour, and would speak to the King about it. These lands lie so close to mine, that if anyone else had them they might annoy me."
Association with the court and the holding of an official office did not absolve one from the duties of a country land owner and gentleman, and during the 1530s Richard served on various commissions especially in his home county of Norfolk, such as the Commission for delivering the gaol of Norwich Castle, the Commission for Sewers for Norfolk and the Commission of Oyer and Terminer21 for treasons for Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and the City of Norwich.
Richard's parliamentary career probably began in 1536 when he was the most likely candidate to succeed Sir James Boleyn as one of the knights of the shire for Norfolk, although it is not until 1539 that he appears in the record; the returns for the 1536 election have been lost. His election in 1539 only occurred after a dispute with Sir Edmund Knyvett, who wanted the seat and chose to disregard the King's nomination of Richard Southwell and Edmund Wyndham. Both had to appear before the Star Chamber and Richard complained to Cromwell that he was being made to suffer for doing his duty to the King. The dispute was resolved and Richard was elected and Knyvett appointed Sheriff of Norfolk. Richard was a member of the party that received Ann of Cleves at Rochester and his youngest brother Anthony was one of the esquires in the King's greeting party three days later. He was knighted in 1540 and from 1542 until the death of Henry VIII was one ofthe three general surveyors of the King's lands. He served on commisions to sell the King's property and in 1543 he was part of one charged with selling £10,000 worth of the King's lands but not to include manors above a value of £40 per annum, except houses with no land. The sales were for twenty years for land and ten years for woods. Two years later he was a witness to the sale to the King at Blackwall on the Thames of the ship "St. Christopher" of Danzig. He was several times sent on administrative and diplomatic missions. With Lord Lisle the deputy of Calais, he reviewed the fortifications of Berwick. They reported that the new works did not conform to the designs approved by the King although 20,000 marks had been spent and much more would be needed to complete the project. It appears that nothing much has changed with government contracts over the last 500 years.
On 1st August, 1536, Richard Southwell and the other Commissioners Sir Roger Townshend, Sir William Paston and Sir Thomas Mildmay had reached Buckenham, Norfolk, at the beginning of their survey of the monasteries. Two men, Hugh Wilkinson and John Brown of Old Buckenham returning home with a John Lok from the Stone Fair at Cressingham, tried to bribe Lok to kill the Commissioners that night while they slept at the priory. When Lok refused, they approached John Parker but he also refused. Wilkinson and Brown were eventually brought before the Justices of the Peace.
In 1537, a group of yeomen, husbandmen and clergy, including the subprior of Walsingham, Nicholas Mileham, were involved in planning a rebellion. They did not see themselves as rebels against the crown but by raising a company they would be able to bring their grievances to the notice of the King. At the end of April that year they were betrayed and arrests began. Cromwell sent Richard Southwell from London to assist. By the middle of May the ringleaders were rounded up and imprisoned in Norwich Castle. The leading eleven conspirators were executed in batches at Norwich, Lynn, Walsingham and Yarmouth. Against an earlier rebellion in the north in 1536, Richard had provided sixty men.
Everything was not always plain sailing for Richard. On 2nd December, 1536, he wrote to Cromwell, "I last night arrived here in London, and learned from my brother, the King is displeased with me. Begging your Lordship to appoint a time for me to wait on you and to be a suitor to the King 'that I may come unto declaration.' If any offence shall appear in me I shall desire to be banished for ever." He was obviously very concerned that he may have fallen out of favour with the King, which could have had a serious effect on his career and standing at court. Fortunately on 23rd December, he received a letter from Cromwell saying the King had "Attempered" his displeasure. He was certainly back in favour by the following October as he appears as a participant at the christening procession of Prince Edward (later to become King Edward VI). Where the canopy over the Prince was borne by Sir Edward Nevyll, Sir John Wallop, Richard Long, Thomas Semere, Henry Knyvet and Mr. Ratclif of the Privy Chamber, and the "tortayes" of virgin wax borne about the canopy by Sir Humphrey Foster, Robert Turwytt, George Harper, and Richard Southwell.
As a servant of Cromwell, Richard Southwell was involved in the downfall of Sir Thomas More, former Lord Chancellor, who had refused to deny the Pope's authority. He was sent to More's room in the Tower to take away his books. While there he is said to have heard the exchange between More and Sir Richard Riche, in which More denied that Parliament could make the King the head of the church. However, when asked to give evidence against More, he said he was appointed only to deal with the books and had not taken in the conversation. Richard, almost certainly still a Catholic at heart, probably inwardly sympathised with More.
Cromwell had risen to prominence as secretary to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. It was Cromwell who suggested to Henry VIII that he become head of the church. Richard Southwell remained loyal to Cromwell, who had done much to further his career. In March 1540, he was one of six men who took depositions from Thomas Molton, who was charged with saying that the world would never be quiet so long as one so base in birth as Cromwell served on the King's council.
Serving the King in various capacities was not without remuneration and most posts carried an annual salary. Other sums were received for expenses and other outgoings. In 1541 Sir Richard received from the King a payment of £53 10s 3d for handling the King's affairs. The following year he received an annuity of 20 marks. He received a further annuity of £200 in 1546. Shortly before the death of Henry VIII, Sir Richard was granted an annuity of £100. He was named as one of the assistant executors of Henry VIII's will, and from the will received a bequest of £200 as a token of his "special love and favour." In the will he was also named as a councillor to the King's heir, Prince Edward.
Henry VIII and the administration of the time obviously found it necessary to make ostentatious displays of many events. In Charles Wriothesley's chronicle of the Tudor era he described the committing of the Duke of Somerset to the Tower; an event in which Sir Richard took part. "The 14 of October, in the afternoon, the Duke of Sommersett was brought from Windsore to the Tower of London, rydynge through Holborne and in at Newegate, and so through the high streates to the Tower, accompanied with divers Lordes, knightes and gentlemen with iiic horsemen, every bande in their Master's livery, my Lord Mayer, Sir Raufe Warreine, Sir John Gresham, Mr Recorder, Sir William Lock, and both the Sheriffs, Sir John Baker, Chancellor of the Tenthes, Sir [Richard] Southwell, Sir Edmunde Candishe, and Sir Thomas Pope, knightes, sittinge all on their horses against Sooper-Iane, with all the officers of the sheriffes standinge by them with billes and holberds in theyr handes, and from Holborne-bridge to Tower certaine Alderman or theyr deputies sittinge on horseback in every street, with a number of housholders standinge by them with billes in their handes, in every quarter, as he passed through the streates to Tower hill, where he was delivered to Constable of the Tower with these persons following."
In order to exert his feudal right to Scotland, King Henry VIII dispatched an army to the north, which defeated the forces of King James V of Scotland in 1542. King James died soon after and his infant daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, became queen. The conquest was not straight forward and there was still considerable opposition from a number of the Scottish lords. King Henry wished to get the infant queen into his custody, and a large English army was drawn up on the Scottish borders. In 1543 Sir Richard was involved in discussions at Darlington with the Scottish nobles who had pledged loyalty to Henry VIII and became deeply involved in the dispute among the Scottish lords. He was sent by the King to Scotland to sort out the dispute. He was to deliver the King's letter to the nobility and Council of Scotland and remind them of the King's advice that they should "keep themselves in force and put their countries in good order ....; and shall endeavour to get the child, that she may without tract be conveyed into the King's hands, and likewise to get the strongholds into the King's hands." To prove that the King was prepared for all events, Sir Richard was to show that the Duke of Suffolk, the King's Lieutenant on the Borders, already had sufficient men and money to mount an attack.
During the war with France Sir Richard was made vice-treasurer of the Middle Ward, or Battle, of the King's army in France and appears on the list of noble men, knights, gentlemen and others appointed to go to France with the army. He was responsible for paying the wages and expenses of those involved in the campaign such as soldiers, pioneers and clerks. For example he paid Patrick Shirlock, a captain of certain Irishmen, wages for two captains at 3s 4d a day, two petty captains at £20, two whifflers22 and one standard bearer at 12d, and 140 footmen at 6d, for five days ending 27th October. James Moyer the master of the "John Baptist" was paid £14 for carrying 270 barrels of gunpowder from Antwerp to Boulogne. On a less military level, Robert Draper and John Kirkby, officers of the King's jewels, "for attending on his personage," received wages for themselves at 12d a day and for four servants at 6d. The war in France was an expensive affair. On 24th September, 1544, Sir Richard received £2,000 for the wages of the battle and on 29th September a further £5,000. For the period 24th September to 28th October he received £65,418. Considerable amounts of money were conveyed across the English Channel; Sir Richard's servants often being dispatched with sums as large as £20,000. However, there was some gain from the war. Following the King's return fom Calais, he was instructed to pay Anthony Rous, the Master of the Jewel House, and Walter Mildemay, one of the King's auditors for conveying eight loads of plate and jewels from Calais castle to the tower of London.
After the capture of Boulogne, Sir Richard, accompanied by six or seven men at war, went to the town, where with Lord Surrey he drew up the plans for garrisoning the town, the high town and the citadel; the King would have to decide whether the lower town should be defended or razed. According to Sir Richard's accounts the garrison cost £41,521 13s 4d for the seven months of April to November, 1546, which included monthly wages of £5,931 13s 4d for 5,544 men, Englishmen and strangers, footmen and pioneers. Sir Richard probably spent most of his time in France from 1544 to 1546. He was certainly in Boulogne for the first half of 1546 where he was also responsible for the leasing of the houses. On his return to England he was made keeper of and granted the Stewardship of the courts and lands of the former Norfolk monasteries of Walsingham, Wymondham and Shouldham and granted the lease of the parsonage of Wymondham for thirty years. Later in 1546 he appears to have fallen out with Lord Surrey and accused him of dereliction of duty while in France for not taking Hardelot castle when he had the means to do so. Surrey and Sir Richard were both committed to the Tower but Sir Richard was soon released.
Following the war with France, the arrival of the Admiral of France in England was greeted with much pomp and ceremony. Both Sir Richard and his brother Robert were involved. Sir Richard was accompanied by twenty of his household on horseback and he and Robert were listed among the horses with footcloths for the Admiral. Robert was also on the list of Norfolk noblemen and gentlemen to attend him at court.
Around this time King Henry VIII became concerned about the state of his jewels and plate. Sir Richard with Sir William Pawlet, Lord Saint John, Lord Great Master, Sir Ralph Sadler, Sir Richard Riche, Sir John Baker and Sir Thomas Pope were commissioned to survey the King's jewels and plate. It appears the Masters and Treasurers of the Jewels had not been entirely scrupulous in their duty. The last master, Sir John Williams, had not taken a survey since Thomas, Lord Cromwell, had left the office. Thomas Cromwell had failed to surrender all as demanded by the King's warrant. The commissioners were to examine the accounts of Sir John Williams and his predecessor, Sir Sir Anthony Rous and deliver the accounts, jewels and plate to Anthony Awcher the newly appointed Master and Treasurer of Plate and Jewels.
As a member of the gentry, Richard would not always have been popular with the general population. In 1540, John Walter of Griston, Norfolk, was accused of sedition. It was claimed that he said that if three or four good fellows, each with a bell, would ride through the night and cry "To Swaffham, To Swaffham" in every town they passed through, there would be 10,000 there in the morning. He supposedly also said that a bold fellow should stand up and say that as the gentlemen were away and how they showed little favour to the poor men, they should go to their houses and get harness and victuals and kill those who would not join them, even the children in the cradles. They should go to Lynn and they would be strong enough for when the gentlemen returned from the north. They should start with Mr. Southwell and thence to Mr. Brampton, Mr. John Grays, Mr. Hoggans and so to Sir Roger Townshend, who was still at home.
On the accession of King Edward VI, the list of General Pardons for offences other than treasons before the 28 January, 1547, the date of the accession, which had to be applied for in writing under the Great Seal, Richard appears as Richard Southwell, late Woodrysing or Rysing, Norfolk, esquire or Eaton beside Norwich, knight, alias of London, one of Henry VIII's surveyors and councillors. On the following 24th December Richard was appointed a King's Councillor. The same year he was appointed a Commissioner of the Peace for Norfolk and thereafter served on various commissions. In April 1547 he was again part of the Commission to survey the jewels and plate due to the office of Master of the Jewels but not delivered by Sir Thomas Cromwell, who held the office prior to his treason. Richard Southwell, Sir Richard Riche and Sir Thomas Moyle were commissioned to assess those who wished by fine to be exonerated from receiving a knighthood. This followed a writ sent by the King to Sheriffs in England and Wales proclaiming that persons, who held land or rents of £40 and upwards yearly for three years, should prepare to receive a knighthood. In 1549 he looked into payments to the King's household, the Admiralty, garrisons, fortifications et cetera that, owing to the wars with France and Scotland, had to be defrayed for parts of the realm. The same year he was involved in the suppression of the Kett rebellion in Norwich. He was one of the knights and the 1,500 who were sent to Norwich under the leadership of William Parr, Marquis of Northampton. It was Sir Richard, who by tradition was bareheaded and carrying aloft a sword led the procession into the city.
Again everything was not going perfectly smoothly for Sir Richard. Although he had supported John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, in his struggle for power there must have been some problem, for when Warwick had gained control of the government, Sir Richard lost his post as a Privy Councillor and in January 1550 was imprisoned in the Tower, charged with writing seditious bills. Bishop John Ponet claimed that he had done enough to be hanged, possibly referring to allegations that he had given royal monies to the Norfolk rebels. However, he was soon released and pardoned on 25th April, 1551.
Back in favour again, in 1552 as a Justice of the Peace for Norfolk along with Sir Robert Dudley, Sir Roger Townsend, Sir Christopher Heydon, Sir Thomas Clere, Sir Thomas Woodhouse, Sir Thomas Gawdye and other justices, he presided at the trial of Henry Marsham of Filby and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Marsham was charged "of having on 8th August 4 Edward VI of malice aforethought assaulted John Drye at Fylbie aforesaid with 'a dagger' worth 4d and given him a wound under 'le armehole' of which he immediately died." Marsham had been immediately imprisoned in Norwich Castle but was acquitted of the felony and only found guilty of flight. He was pardoned of the murder and flight and his goods lost or forfeited were restored.
At the death of Edward VI, Sir Richard initially accepted Lady Jane Grey as heir to the throne, but soon changed his allegiance to Princess Mary, providing her with men, money, provisions and his long experience and skill in council. In consequence in 1554, he received another annuity of £100 for his services to Henry VIII and Edward VI and to Queen Mary at the attempted rebellion of John, Duke of Northumberland. Sitting again with Sir Christopher Heydon in "le sherehouse" at Norwich he indicted Sir Robert Dudley, son of John Duke of Northumberland. Dudley with the Duke of Northumberland, John Earl of Warwick, Sir John Gate, Sir Thomas Palmer and "other traitors" had plotted to depose and slay the Queen. They gathered at Cambridge "with a great multitude of rebels to the number of 3,000 and levied war against the Queen." Dudley took possession of King's Lynn, forced the mayor and the inhabitants to relinquish their allegiance to the Queen and proclaimed Lady Jane Dudley (Lady Jane Grey) as queen. Later at the Guildhall in London, Dudley pleaded guilty and was adjudged "to be led to the Tower and thence drawn through the middle of the city to the gallows of Tybume and thence hanged, drawn and quartered." Despite his plea of guilty and the sentence of execution, Dudley was eventually pardoned. Following this rebellion Sir Richard acted as treasurer of the fines that were levied. The same year, he also remained loyal to Queen Mary at Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion by guarding the rear of Whitehall with 500 men. Wyatt was against the marriage of Mary to Philip of Spain; he raised an army in Kent and marched on London, but was deserted by his supporters, forced to surrender and executed for high treason on Tower Hill, London.
Queen Mary restored Sir Richard to the Privy Council and appointed him Master of the Ordinance. This office was granted for life with a salary of 200 marks per annum; 6d a day for a clerk, 6d a day for a yeoman, and 8d day each for two men for the survey and safe custody of the ordinance and munitions in the town and marches of Calais. He was also Keeper of the Queen's armoury and armour and other warlike apparel in the long gallery in "le Tylteyarde" in her manor of Greenwich, and Master of the armour and armoury in the Tower of London and elsewhere. For this he received 100 marks a year for Greenwich, and as Sergeant and Master of the armoury at the Tower, 12d a day for himself, 6d for a page and 3d for a yeoman. He also got all the houses, buildings etc. upon Tower Wharf, Tower Hill and under the walls of the City of London. He surrendered both the Ordinance and Armoury posts in the first year of Queen Elizabeth I's reign.
Sir Richard appears to have had a knack of associating himself with prominent members of the government. He became a follower of the chancellor, Bishop Stephen Gardiner, whom he supported in favouring Edward Courtenay rather than Philip of Spain as a husband for Queen Mary. It is said that it was Sir Richard who announced the Queen's supposed pregnancy to the Lords in 1554. Although he became less active in public affairs after Gardiner's death in 1555, he continued to prosper under Queen Mary. In 1556 he was granted a licence to retain forty persons, gentlemen or yeomen above those required for his household and stewardships. In 1557 he had a licence to appoint at his pleasure from time to time one of his servants to shoot with a crossbow at all manner of birds and game. At this time he appeared staunchly Catholic and anti-protestant exclaiming "to the rack with them, one of these knaves is able to undo a whole city."
With the accession of Queen Elizabeth I in November 1558, Sir Richard's career went into decline. He was not reappointed to the Privy Council, and in 1559 he surrendered his offices in exchange for an annuity of £165. From the evidence of the following letter to a Mr. Hoo in January 1560 he seems to have continued his duties as a Justice of the Peace and is dealing in property. "Thanks for your friendly remembrance for the feoffment of the living of your manor of Burys. I remember my promise last year, if you like to deal with me upon a reasonable price, to make you ready payment. Since then I have bargained with T. Tyndall for the manor of Wasslonde, for which I paid £890, which has much weakened my pocket; yet if you make me a reasonable value, with your least price, I will make shift for you. If you are at Surrey sessions, we shall meet there; if not, upon your letter declaring your full determination. I will immediately answer you of mine."
Sir Richard's carreer had enabled him to acquire considerable properties. In 1560 he held the following Norfolk manors:
Richard's private life was not entirely uneventful. He was initially married to Tomasine Darcy the daughter of the late Sir Roger Darcy of Danbury, Essex and stepdaughter of his guardian Sir Thomas Wyndham. This may have been an arranged marriage; it certainly does not appear to have been a love match as Sir Richard had a long time mistress. From his marriage to Tomasine, he had just one daughter, Elizabeth, who married Sir George Heneage of Hainton, Lincolnshire. On the other hand the union with his mistress, Mary Darcy a relative of his wife, also of Danbury, was much more productive. They had six children, Katherine (1531), Richard (1540), Thomas (1549), Anne, Mary (under 18 in 1564) and Dorothy (also under 18 in 1564). And in 1544 he gave Mary the manor and rectory of Horsham St. Faith as a family home. Finally, after the death of Tomasine in 1558, Sir Richard married Mary.
Thomasine, according to the diary of Henry Machin, was buried at Shorditch, with priests and clerks singing and the church had many torches and tapers and was hung in black and arms, and there were many mourners.
It is unlikely at that time that a formal adoption procedure took place, and for a time the illegitimate offspring were known as Darcy alias Southwell but eventually took the name Southwell. Sir Richard and Mary only had a few years together as a married couple as Sir Richard died 11th January, 1564, and Mary was already dead and buried at Woodrising by that time. Sir Richard may have been ill for some time as it is said he was too ill to sign his will, which was made on 24th July, 1561 with a codicil added on the day of his death.
Sir Richard may have been unable to sign the will but he certainly was able to ensure that its contents were clearly and comprehensively laid out. If he should die within five miles of Woodrising, he asked to be buried in the north side of the chancel of Woodrising church under the sepulchre he intended to build. If he had not done so his executors were instructed to do so. Visitors to Woodrising Church can see that this wish was carried out and Richard's monument is the principal one in the church. It consists of a recumbent alabaster figure of a man in armour with a sword on the left and a pair of gauntlets under the ankles. The figure lies enclosed in a table tomb which is supported by columns and set in a recess with a semicircular head; at the back of the recess is an elaborate cartouche enclosing an achievement of arms. The arms include: Southwell, Witchingham, Fastolfe, Tendering, Holbrooke, Darcy, Harleston, Bardwell Wanton and Fitzlangley. Above the monument on brackets there were originally two funeral helmets, which were restored in 1956 by the Armouries at the Tower of London; unfortunately one is now missing. One, a typical close-helmet of the mid-16th century, was probably carried at Sir Richard's funeral.
Sir Richard died a wealthy man; a lot of his wealth was in sheep and in his will23 he makes bequests of 13,500 sheep. His legitimate daughter, Elizabeth, was given the Manors of Stanford and Tottington and two thousand sheep upon the foldcourse and grounds there. These two Norfolk Breckland villages have now disappeared and are part of the large Ministry of Defence Stanford Battle Training Area. The bequest carried a provision that Elizabeth's husband, George Heneage, sold bonds in Chancery for £4,000, and that Elizabeth and George should not attemptto alter any of his legacies or bequests. If they did their sheep were to go to his nephew Thomas the son of his brother Sir Robert. He was probably concerned that Elizabeth, as his only true heir, might contest the will and its provisions for his illegitimate offspring. In the end the manors of Stanford and Tottington, which were joined in 1558 to include the manors of Little Cressingham, Thopmson, Sturston and Threxton as a result of a recovery by Sir Richard, reverted to the Southwell family as Elizabeth and George Heneage had no children. Although there is no mention of it in the will, the Woodrising estate went to his nephew Thomas the eldest son and heir of his brother Sir Robert. Presumably, Richard Darcy alias Southwell his eldest but illegitimate son was not eligible to inherit and Sir Richard does not seem to have been close to Elizabeth his only legitimate offspring. However, he did make generous provisions for his illegitimate family, especially his daughters.
The contents of Woodrising Hall he distributed between Katherine, Mary and Dorothy and his nephew Thomas. Katherine received his second best white basins and ewers, which he had bought from Anthony Bouvise a Merchant Stranger and three large bowls bought in Southampton. She also had a jug with a cover fastened to it, which was the Queen's 1561 New Year's gift, and a quantity of plate. Katherine and her husband Thomas Audley of Berechurch, Essex, also had two good feather beds with pillows, bolsters, sheets, blankets and two good coverlets, and a canopy of crimson velvet with a fringe of red silk and gold. The walls inside Woodrising must have been well covered with hangings. Twelve of these "Brankeredge or parke worke" hangings went to Katherine and Thomas. They also had £100 in bonds.
Mary, who was under eighteen, may have been his favourite daughter. She was to keep his "flaggon cheine of gold which I myself were wonte to weare in fouldes a boute my necke which cheine costumes besyde the fasshion one hundred marks," which he had already given her. Mary and her young husband Henry Paston, who was still under twenty-one, also got some of the wall hangings and four good feather beds with all the accessories, his best and largest quilt and three canopies, two of black velvet and one of purple velvet and gold cloth with his arms embroidered on it. Mary was given the best basins and ewers and three white standing cups and bowls of one making, again bought from Anthony Bouvise, "two livery pottes of silver marked uppon the ears or handles with the name of Jesus," and "two whyte salte cellars which I doe dailie use at my table." Henry, who was his ward, was also well liked and received a legacy of 200 marks to enable him to reclaim possession of his lands when he reached twenty-one. However, there was a proviso that he had to transfer to Mary lands, tenements and manors in Norfolk with a clear yearly value of 300 marks. In this way Richard was clearly making sure that Mary was well catered for. As a result of this provision "and for the love and harty favour I beare unto the said Henry and his well doing," he bequeathed them extra properties to the value of £300 a year. Henry was to receive 2,000 sheep when he reached twenty-one and the executors were instructed to organise "the order, education and bringing up of Henry." Similar instructions were made regarding his nephew Robert, a younger son of his brother Sir Robert, and his illegitimate son Thomas Darcy alias Southwell, who was to be educated in the laws of the realm at Cambridge and the Inns of Court.
His daughter Dorothy, who was also under eighteen, initially appears to end up with the left overs. She got "the least of my three white basonnes and ewers of flanders makinge," and was to receive the spare household stuff when she reached eighteen. Fortunately, for her, her father added a memorandum24 to the will, which included the division of "all my chaines and other jewells of golde and stones" to be divided equally between Mary and Dorothy.
Thomas, the nephew, got the best wall hangings with "imagery," including eight which Sir Richard had bought to hang in the newly made dining chamber at Woodrising, and twelve other pieces to hang in other rooms. The best bed canopy of silver tinsel cloth and crimson velvet embroidered with Sir Richard's arms, with the bedstead, pillows, blankets et cetera also went to Thomas. The stools, tables trestles and cupboards he had to share with Mary and Henry. Thomas also gained all of the farming stock at Woodrising, including calves, swine, poultry and the grain remaining in the granary, as well as half of the beef steers and oxen at Woodrising, Scoulton and Whinbergh; the other half going to Mary and Henry. The horses, geldings, mares and colts kept in the stable or at grass in Woodrising or Whinbergh park were to be equally sorted and given half to Katherine and Thomas Audley and half to Richard Darcy alias Southwell, Sir Richard's eldest illegitimate son. There was apparently material left over from the building work at Woodrising. The lead and half of the boards and planks of oak, ash and elm went to Thomas and half to Richard Darcy for the repair of his decayed house at Horsham St. Faith. Sir Richard's books "of scripture, profane stories and other latten authors and books of lawe and statute" went to Richard Darcy, who also received all things belonging to the parsonage of Tibenham.
Richard Darcy's wife Bridget and her children received all of his household stuff, his other goods and chattels remaining in his house and his money, plate and jewels. Sir Richard was obviously fond of Bridget, he refers to her as his daughter, and leaves" Bridget and Richard" 6,000 sheep and his coach and waggon. A further twelve wall hangings from Woodrising went to Bridget and Richard along with six good feather beds, again with pillows, bolsters, sheets and blankets and six canopies with curtains. There were also bequests to Richard's and Bridget's children. Their second son Thomas inherited the manor at Burnham Thorpe, called Burnham Wymondham that had originally belonged to the Abbey at Wymondham.
Sir Richard's second son, Thomas Darcy alias Southwell, received a flock of 2,000 sheep to be made up from his sheep at Helmingham, Morton, Ringland and Great Bringham. Sir Richard's brother Francis gained a flock of 500 sheep.
Sir Richard's youngest brother, Anthony, had died before him but Sir Richard made a considerable bequest to his widow Anne and her three children, Robert, Anne and Elizabeth. He left her the manor of Little Cressingham for life and all of its stock of cattle and sheep; the stock to pass to whoever lived the longest. Her son Robert received £6 13s 4d from the manor of Carbrooke. Other family members received small legacies, his nephews Francis and Robert, sons of his brother Sir Robert, received £5 each for three years; however Francis also received 100 marks in the codicil. His aunt Amy Wotton of Norwich, the widow of his childhood guardian William Wotton, was left £10.
Several bequests were made to friends and servants, a good example being that to his servant William Bacon, who was to "have during his life the keeping of the park at Woodrising with the yearly fee of 40s charging Thomas Southwell, he being an old aged man having spent a great part of his time in my service, to have and enjoy the keeping of the said park with said yearly fee of 40s." Other members of his household received sums of between £4 and £40. To his very good neighbour and assured friend Sir Thomas Lovell and his very good Lady wife he gave his two high standing gilt cups, commonly called Flanders cups, weighing twenty-five and a quarter ounces.
The executors nominated in the will were a fairly important group: Lord Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England; Sir Robert Catlyn, Lord Chief Judge of the Queen's Bench; Anthony Browne esquire, one of the Justices of the Common Place of Westminster, Sir Thomas Comwallis, his brother Francis Southwell, his cousin Osbert Moundeforde and Francis Gawdy esquire. The executors were all remunerated for their pains but the Duke of Norfolk also received Sir Richard's gold cross that he usually wore around his neck. Perhaps this was a token of his past allegiance to the Howard family.
Sir Richard has at times been characterised as a hard austere man, partly based on the 1537 portrait of him by Hans Holbein the younger. He certainly must have been hot-blooded in his young days, as evidenced by his killing of William Pennington. He also gained a reputation as Thomas Cromwell's "hatchet man" at the dissolution of the monasteries. However, he does not seem to have been completely without compassion for the plight of the monks. His possibly arranged marriage was obviously not a success but he clearly had a sustained affection for his longtime mistress and she eventually became his second wife. In his will he clearly makes bequests way above those normally made to the poor and the church to put himself in good stead with The Almighty. His legacies were fairly wide spread throughout his family, both legitimate and illegitimate. He especially appeared to ensure that the younger male members were well educated. Bearing in mind the political climate of the time, Sir Richard's behaviour as a servant of the realm was probably fairly normal. In his private life he was probably a conscientious country lord of the manor.
© Transcription Copyright E.C. ("Paddy") Apling, July 2011.