SOUTHWELL, Sir Robert (1563-98), of Wood Rising, Norf.

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. 1563, o.s. of Thomas Southwell of Wood Rising by his 2nd w. Mary, da. of Sir Richard Mansell. educ. travelled abroad; G. Inn 1580. m. 17 Apr. 1583, Elizabeth, da. of Charles Howard I, 1st Earl of Nottingham, 4s. 4da. suc. fa. 1567. Kntd. 1585.1

Offices Held

J.p. Norf., Suff. from c.1584; sheriff, Norf. 1589-90; dep. lt. until July 1596, when he became commr. musters; v.-adm. Norf. by 1587-98.2


When he was four years old, Southwell succeeded to extensive properties in Norfolk. He was allied to many Norfolk gentry families, and was brought up under Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, an overseer of his father’s will. As a youth he travelled in Italy, on his return apparently transferring his allegiance from the Norfolk section of the Howard. family to the politically more reputable Effingham branch, marrying Elizabeth Howard, and spending part of his time in Surrey: at least three of his eight children were baptized at Reigate, and he was returned to Parliament for Guildford through the influence of his father-in-law, Charles Howard. Southwell’s name is recorded only once in the journals of the 1597 Parliament, for a committee concerned with armour and weapons, 8 Nov. Southwell fought against the Armada, and eight years later distinguished himself at Cadiz.

In Norfolk he was active in county administration, and in 1588 he was listed as a knight of ‘great possessions’ able to sustain a peerage. He died 12 Oct. 1598 and was buried in the following month at Wood Rising. By his will, dated 2 Oct. 1598, he divided his lands into three parts: one-third to his son Thomas; one-third to his wife; and the remainder to her for the advancement of his daughters. The will was proved by the widow, who in 1604 married Sir John Stewart, Earl of Carrick. Southwell’s surviving son, Thomas, aged two at his father’s death, sold Wood Rising.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.


  • 1. C142/148/58; Norf. and Norwich Arch. Soc. i. 125-8; Surr. Arch. Soc. i. 413; ix. 425-6.
  • 2. APC, xxvi. 53, 351; xxvii. 38, 223; xxviii. 483; xxix. 344.
  • 3. Blomefield, Norf. x. 270, 277; C142/148/58; Coll. of Arms, Talbot mss, transcribed by G. Batho, G, f. 128; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 190-1; D’Ewes, 553; Lansd. 104, ff. 51 seq.; Devereux, Earl of Essex, i. 361; Birch, Mems. ii. 54; HMC Hatfield, vi. 146; APC, xxv. 256; PCC 78 Lewyn; Surr. Arch. Soc. ix. 425-6; Norf. and Norwich Arch. Soc. i. 128.