Born: ABT 1524, Windham Manor, Norfolk, England

Died: 1582

Father: Francis SOUTHWELL

Mother: Dorothy TENDRING

Married 1: Alice STANDISH

Married 2: Barbara SPENCER 6 Aug 1560, St Peters Mancroft, Norwich, Norfolk, England




The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

Third son of Francis Southwell by Dorothy, dau. and coh. of William Tendring of Little Birch, Essex; bro. of Richard and Robert. Married first, by 1545, Alice, dau. of William Standish, s.p.; and secondly, 6 Aug 1560, Barbara, da. of John Spencer of Rendlesham, Suff., widow of Richard Catlyn (d. 1556) of Norwich and Honingham, Norf. and Serjeants’ Inn, London, 2s. 1da.

Auditor, Exchequer 1542-?d., jt. (with Walter Mildmay), prests, ct. gen. surveyors of the King’s lands, May 1543-7; receiver, ct. augmentations, Herts. 1547; commr. subsidy, Herts. 1544, chantries, Oxon., Northants., Rutland 1546, Herts. 1548, relief, Herts. 1550; j.p. 1547, q. 1554.

Nothing is known of his early years, but as his father died in 1512 he must have been brought up by a relative or guardian. In Sep 1536 Richard Southwell was one of the royal commissioners to value religious houses in Norfolk and Suffolk, and presumably he arranged that Francis should ride with the commissioners’ certificate of their findings from Wood Rising, Norfolk, to Grafton, Northamptonshire, a journey for which the younger man claimed his costs from the crown. In Jan 1538 Francis Southwell witnessed the surrender of West Acre priory, Norfolk, to his brother Robert, then attorney to the court of augmentations. A series of minor but lucrative royal leases and commissions followed, beginning with a reversionary appointment in Feb 1539 to the auditorship of royal castles and lordships in South Wales and elsewhere. Southwell obtained two crown leases of Pembrokeshire lands in 1540 and 1541, when both his elder brothers were officials of the court of augmentations. In Oct 1540 he was one of the surveyors of crown lands in South Wales and in Nov 1542, after a few commissions of survey and audit, came his first permanent appointment, as one of the exchequer auditors, at a fee of £10 a year. This was followed in May 1543 by a joint auditorship of the prests in the court of general surveyors; the fee was £40 a year, although when Southwell surrendered his moiety of the post in 1547 he obtained a crown pension of £53 6s. 8d. More profitable still was the auditorship of the lands forfeit to the crown by the attainders of the Countess of Salisbury and Richard Fermor; this, too, was a joint appointment, conferred on Southwell and Thomas Rolfe in May 1544 and surrendered by them in Nov 1548 in return for an annuity of £100. Southwell’s inclusion in commissions to survey chantries in 1546 marked his recognition as a man of consequence outside the sphere of royal revenue administration.

By 1544 Southwell was established at Hertingfordbury; he was one of the subsidy commissioners for the hundreds of Braughing and Hertford and was himself assessed at £120 in goods that year, and at £80 in 1546, being rated on each assessment as one of the county’s wealthiest men. On 12 Feb 1539, Taunton Priory had surrendered all its lands, including Gauldon manor, to Henry VIII. In Feb 1544/5, the manor was sold by the Crown for £212 to William Standish of London, with remainder to his daughter, Alice, and her husband, Francis Southwell of Norfolk, and their heirs, and failing such heirs, to John Mynne and his heirs. Alice Standish had been married, previous to Sir Francis, to John Mynne (d. 14 Dec 1543), auditor of the Exchequer, Clerk tothe Surveyor General, and Master of the Woods. William Standish died in 1553, and the manor went to his daughter, Alice Southwell, who died childless. Gauldon then went to the Mynne family in accordance with the original deed.

He was probably the Francis Southwell admitted a member of Lincoln’s Inn in Dec 1544, but he does not seem to have studied law or had chambers there. As a newcomer in Hertfordshire, Southwell could hardly have been returned as knight of the shire to the second and last Marian Parliaments without royal recommendation, which in turn he doubtless owed to his brothers, both high in favour under Mary.

Southwell took a crown lease of Hertfordshire land in Oct 1549, for 21 years at a rent of £18 15s. a year. He may not have owned freehold land in the county and perhaps purchased Islington manor, Norfolk, in Sep 1565 in anticipation of the expiry of his Hertfordshire lease; a few months earlier he had transferred Gaulden, probably to a relative of his first wife. Withdrawn from public affairs under Elizabeth, he probably lived in Norfolk for the last ten years of his life; from 1563 his name is absent from the Hertfordshire subsidy rolls. He made his will on 6 Oct and died on 19 Nov 1581, leaving an 18 year-old elder son Miles as his heir. He left each of his children a large amount of silver and plate, and gave £666 13s.4d. to his daughter and £300 to each son.


Coros, D. F. : SOUTHWELL, Francis (c.1510-81), of Hertingfordbury, Herts. and Islington, Norf.

to Bios Page to Family Page
to Peerage Page to Home Page