SOUTHCOTE, George (1572-1638), of Shillingford, Devon.

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

b. 1572, yr. s. of Thomas Southcote of Bovey Tracey, by his 3rd w. Elizabeth Fitzwilliam; bro. of Richard. educ. I. Temple 1593. m. (1) Alice, da. and coh. of John Cole of Buckland Tout Saints, 1s. 1da.; (2) Sarah, da. of Robert Thomas, draper, of London and Spanby, Lincs., 3s. 4da.; (3) lic. 30 June 1635, Martha, da. of Sir John Suckling of Goodfathers, Twickenham, Surr. suc. bro. Richard 1594. Kntd. 1603.

Offices Held

J.p. Devon 1604, sheriff 1616.


Though a younger son Southcote inherited from his father the manors of Shillingford, Stoke Fleming, Townstall and Withycombe, all near Dartmouth, and he was thus able to found a new branch of the family. Both he and his elder brother Richard were returned for Plympton in the lifetime of their father, who had himself sat for the borough. Plympton was a stannary town and no doubt it was the extensive tin workings owned by Thomas Southcote (and his daughter’s marriage to William Strode II) that maintained the connexion between the Southcotes and the borough. Southcote left no mark upon the surviving records of the House of Commons. One of Southcote’s half-sisters married the puritan Sir Anthony Rous, and Southcote himself, as patron of Stoke Fleming, presented Elias Newcomen to the rectory in 1600: an ejected fellow of Magdalene, Newcomen was of radical temper himself and was cousin to one of the authors of Smectymnus. Southcote was involved in a scandal in 1591 over a lady named Eleanor Thursby, but a scapegoat in the person of a Stephen Trefulack was found guilty of provoking the affair by witchcraft. Southcote was concerned in Devon defence measures in 1597, mortgaged lands to Sir William Strode in 1604 and in the following year bought a manor in Nottinghamshire. He was certified as able to lend the King £26 in 1612. Southcote committed suicide in 1638, according to one story by cutting his throat after a quarrel with his eldest son. But, according to what purports to be the finding of a coroner’s inquest, he hanged himself at Kensington 14 Oct. 1638. His forfeited personal estate was bought back from the Crown for £1,400. Aubrey commented ‘My Lady Southcote, whose husband hanged himself, was Sir John Suckling’s sister, to whom he writes a consolatory letter’.

Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 913; Norf. Rec. Soc. v. 209; W. Pole, Desc. Devon, 172, 254, 275, 285, 286; PCC 66 Wallop; Devon RO, bps. of Exeter mss, vol. 21, f. 69v; L’Estrange Ewen, Witchcraft and Demonianism, 431; HMC 15th Rep. VII, 32; Devon RO, Tingey mss, 1408, 1422; Devon N. and Q. xxvi. 124; CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 98; 1639-40, p. 17; C10/12/116; Aubrey, Brief Lives, ii. 244.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: Irene Cassidy / John. P. Ferris