SOTHERTON, Nowell (d.c.1610), of St. Botolph's-without-Aldersgate, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

s. of John Sotherton of Norwich, mercer, by Ellen, da. of Nowell Durgys or Turgys. m. Timothea, da. of Anthony Williams, several children, 1 surv. da.1

Offices Held

Warden, Merchant Taylors’ Co. 1586, master 1597; clerk of estreats in the Exchequer by 1600, cursitor baron of the Exchequer from July 1606.


Following family custom, Sotherton became a freeman of Norwich as a mercer in 1570; in the same year he was admitted to the London Merchant Taylors’ Company by redemption, joining his brother John and cousin George. He served the Company well until his death, when he—like George—bequeathed it his great gilt standing cup with his arms on the cover, and £25 besides for ‘a recreation’ in the hall. But whereas George was in business as a London merchant, Nowell was ‘bred up’ in the Exchequer with his brother John (who became one of its barons in 1579) and he remained an Exchequer official all his life.2

Glimpses of Sotherto’s activities occur in the printed sources for 1594 and onwards,3 but that he had made his mark before then may be inferred from his return to Parliament for seats where the 3rd Marquess of Winchester had influence, though no evidence has been found to link him with that nobleman, and it is quite possible that it was Lord Burghley who was responsible for his returns at St. Ives, as he was for other Exchequer officials there at this time. The prolix piety shown in Nowell Sotherton’s will suggests that it was he and not George or Thomas whom the House appointed, 1 Dec. 1597, with Sir Robert Wroth, to collect from Members for the relief of the poor and ‘for the minister his pains in saying prayers’.4

On the death of his aged brother John, and in spite of the efforts of Julius and Thomas Caesar, Nowell Sotherton was appointed to succeed him in the Exchequer (though only as baron cursitor), the lord treasurer, Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset, taking particular pains to ensure that the appointment was made.5 The following year Sotherton was specially admitted to Gray’s Inn, and three years later, on 24 May 1610, was mentioned by John Chamberlain, the letter-writer, as ‘lately dead’ though ‘rather of age than any violent sickness’. His will, dated 15 Sept. 1608, provided legacies for a number of the Sotherton family in London and Norwich. To his surviving daughter and her son he gave his lease in reversion of Tracies in Essex, and to Sir Giles Fettiplace £20 and his silver tankards. The minister of St. Botolph’s, in whose church a vault already contained Sotherton’s wife and children, was to receive a black gown and 40s. for the funeral sermon. Nearly £100 was to be bestowed on the honest and godly poor of the parish, the poor children of Christ’s hospital, the poor in St. Bartholomew’s hospital, and the poor prisoners in various prisons in London and Suffolk, the county where the Sotherton family originated. The will was proved 24 May 1610.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: E.L.C.M.


  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), ix. 129-31.
  • 2. Lansd. 106, f. 1 seq.; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 458; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 230; P. Millican, Norwich Freemen, 101; C. M. Clode, Early Hist. Merchant Taylors, i. 263-4, 266, 267; ii. 342, 343, and Memorials, 590, 653; Cat. Silver Plate of Merchant Taylors, 148; Foss, Judges, vi. 189-90.
  • 3. Lansd. 76, f. 32; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 508; 1598-1601, p. 273.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 566.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, xviii, 195, 219.
  • 6. PCC 38 Wingfield.