Southwell, Robert (1635-1702) (DNB00)

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SOUTHWELL, Sir ROBERT (1635–1702), diplomatist, eldest son and heir of Robert Southwell, called of Kinsale, esquire, and his wife Helena, only daughter and heiress of Major Robert Gore of Shereton, Wiltshire, was born at Battin Warwick, on the river Bandon, near Kinsale, on 31 Dec. 1635.

His father, Robert Southwell (1607–1677), was the son of Anthony Southwell, esq., who, with his elder brother, Sir Thomas Southwell (d. 1626), came first to Ireland in the reign of James I as an undertaker in the plantation of Munster, and having married Margaret, daughter of Sir Ralph Shelton of Norfolk, died at Kinsale in 1623. Robert, who succeeded him, was appointed collector of the port of Kinsale on 22 July 1631. He resided there during the whole period of the rebellion, and, with the rest of the inhabitants, took his share in the defence of the town against the Irish (Mallow Proceedings, A/61, 39, ff. 4–5). In 1648 he was instrumental in provisioning the fleet under Prince Rupert, being then blockaded by Blake and Deane, and was consequently condemned under the Commonwealth, by the ordinance of 2 Sept. 1654, to forfeit one-fifth of his property (Prendergast, Cromwellian Settlement, p. 172). He was removed from his post of collector of Kinsale, but subsequently found so much favour with the government of the Commonwealth as to be employed on several commissions, and on 5 Oct. 1657 he was elected sovereign of Kinsale (Caulfield, Council-book of Kinsale, p. 29). After the Restoration he obtained a grant of the forfeited estate of Philip Barry Oge in the liberty of Kinsale, including Ringcurran, which was confirmed to him by letters patent of 16 June 1666. He was recognised as one of the most active and influential personages in Kinsale, and rendered valuable assistance to the Earl of Orrery in strengthening the fortifications of that town in anticipation of the attacks of the Dutch, and was rewarded by the governorship of the newly erected fort at Ringcurran (Orrery, State Letters, ii. 266, 318). He was on 20 Sept. 1670 appointed vice-admiral of Munster, and apparently about the same time he was admitted a member of the provincial council. He died on 3 April 1677, and in accordance with his will, dated 4 Nov. 1676, was buried in his own tomb in the eastern aisle of Kinsale church, where, under a neat monument of Italian marble with a long inscription, are also interred his wife, who died on 1 July 1679, aged 66, and his infant son Thomas. He had, besides, two daughters, Catherine—born on 1 Sept. 1637, married on 14 Feb. 1655 to Sir John Perceval, died 17 Aug. 1679, likewise buried at Kinsale—and Anne, married to Ralph Barney of Wyckingham, Norfolk.

Robert seems early to have been destined for a diplomatic career, and, going to England in 1650, he passed through Queen's College, Oxford (matriculating 24 June 1653 and graduating B.A. 28 June 1655), and Lincoln's Inn, which he entered in 1654, completing his education by continental travel in 1659–1661. Of his sojourn in Italy and the acquaintances he made in Rome he has left a meagre account in a sort of commonplace book that he kept at the time (Egerton MS. 1632). Returning to England in 1661, he shortly afterwards became acquainted with Sir William Petty [q. v.] The acquaintance ripened into a lifelong friendship, which was further cemented by Petty's marriage, in 1667, with Southwell's cousin, Lady Fenton. He appears as clerk to the commission of prizes in 1664, and in September of that year was appointed one of the clerks to the privy council. He was knighted on 21 Dec. 1665, and the same year appointed deputy vice-admiral of the provinces of Munster, succeeding to the vice-admiralty itself on the death of his father twelve years later. Meanwhile in November 1665 he was appointed envoy to the court of Portugal, with the object of effecting a peace between that country and Spain, payment being made to him under a privy seal warrant of 1,000l. for secret services (Cal. Dom. 1665, p. 46). He reached Lisbon early in the following year, took part in the coup d'état that ended in the deposition of Alphonso VI, and had the satisfaction of bringing his mission to a satisfactory conclusion by the peace of Lisbon on 13 Feb. 1668, but not without exciting the jealousy of the Earl of Sandwich, who held the post of ambassador extraordinary to the court of Spain, and desired to have the entire credit of the treaty (cf. Pepys, Diary, vii. 312; Southwell's correspondence in connection with the treaty was published in 1740). After the conclusion of the treaty he returned to England, but was in April that year again appointed envoy extraordinary to Portugal, for the double purpose of attending to the embarkation of the English auxiliary forces returning to England and concluding a treaty of commerce with Portugal. He sailed from Deal on 16 June; but his business detaining him in Lisbon for fully a year, and no provision having been made for his prolonged stay, he became considerably involved in debts, which had not been paid off four years later (Cal. Dom. 1670 pp. 130, 192, 1671 p. 499). Returning to London in August 1669, he took up his residence in Spring Gardens. In the following autumn he spent a short holiday with his father at Kinsale, and in May 1671, having been appointed a chief commissioner of excise, with a salary of 500l. (ib. 1671, p. 238), he obtained permission to go to Ireland for six months, arriving at Kinsale on the 27th. He was recalled to London in September by his appointment as envoy extraordinary to Brussels. A warrant was issued on 19 Oct. to pay him 4l. per diem and 300l. for his equipage, and, having received his instructions on the 25th, he set out from London on the 31st. After his return, early apparently in the year following, he refrained from meddling personally in the political intrigues of the time, though from his correspondence it would seem that he deplored Charles's conduct in the matter of the declaration of indulgence, inclining generally to Sir William Temple's view of the situation. He was M.P. for Penryn in 1673, and for Lostwithiel in 1685. On 6 Aug. 1677 the university of Oxford conferred the degree of D.C.L. on him, and in 1679 he purchased from Sir Humphrey Hooke the manor of King's Weston in Gloucestershire, where he entertained King William on his return from Ireland in 1690. Having resigned his place as a clerk to the privy council on 5 Dec. 1679, he was in the spring of the following year (1680) sent as envoy extraordinary to the elector of Brandenburg, in pursuance of Temple's plan of creating a defensive alliance against France. On his way he communicated his instructions to the Prince of Orange, and afterwards entered into negotiations with the courts of Brunswick-Lüneburg, then rising into importance in consequence of the death of the Duke of Hanover. But perceiving shortly after his return that a reaction was setting in against the whigs, he retired to his seat at King's Weston (cf. Fitzmaurice, Life of Petty, p. 246).

On 1 Dec. 1680 he obtained a reduction of the quit-rents imposed on his Irish estates by the Acts of Settlement, and on 10 Feb. following conveyed to the crown, for the sum of 1,041l. 2s. 6d., that part of the lands of Ringcurran occupied by the fort. In 1682 he founded and endowed an almshouse for eight helpless men and women on his estate of Dromderrick, within the liberties of Kinsale, being led, as he says himself, to this act of charity by a lively remembrance of the sufferings he had undergone during his travels abroad ‘for want of such conveniences,’ being in his youth of a sickly and delicate nature. He continued to live in retirement at King's Weston till the accession of William III, amusing himself with his garden, and profiting by the horticultural knowledge of his friend John Evelyn.

At the revolution he was made a commissioner for managing the customs on 19 April 1689. He accompanied William to Ireland in the following year, and was by him appointed principal secretary of state for that kingdom, holding the office till his death. Shortly after his appointment Swift, bearing a letter of introduction from Sir William Temple, unsuccessfully solicited the post of amanuensis to him (Craik, Life of Swift, p. 27; Lives of the Poets, 1854, iii. 160). On 1 Dec. 1690 he was elected president of the Royal Society, holding that office for five successive years (Thomson, Royal Society; cf. Evelyn, Diary, ii. 310). On 12 June 1697 he was superseded by Sir J. Austen as commissioner of customs, and on 11 July of the following year, being clerk of the crown and prothonotary of the court of king's bench, he surrendered the same to the king, who on 23 Sept. regranted it to his son Edward, in reversion after the determination of the patent granted to Philip Savage and Richard Ryves, which being surrendered on 14 Aug. 1713, the same was conferred on Edward and his son for life.

Southwell died at King's Weston on 11 Sept. 1702, and was buried in Henbury church, Gloucestershire, beside his wife, who predeceased him, on 13 Jan. 1681–2, under a monument with an elaborate inscription. He married, 26 Jan. 1664, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Edward Dering of Surrenden-Dering in Kent, ‘a very pretty woman’ according to Pepys, and by her had issue: Rupert born on 21 May 1670, and died on 8 May 1678: Edward, his heir (see below); and four daughters—Helena, Elizabeth, Mary, and Catherine. According to Evelyn, he was ‘a sober, wise, and virtuous gentleman,’ and, it may be added, an industrious official. His portrait, painted by Kneller, belongs to the Royal Society. It was engraved by J. Smith in 1704 (cf. Bromley, p. 175). He was also a man of some literary acquirements and began a life of James, first duke of Ormonde, which his age and infirmities prevented him from finishing. The manuscript, ‘consisting of about one hundred pages in folio, and containing such domestic information touching the duke's life as he had received from his grace's own mouth,’ was lent by his son Edward to Thomas Carte. Apart from his official and private correspondence, noted below, attention may be especially directed to his ‘Reflections on the Irish Rebellion’ (Addit. MS. 21129); ‘Remarks on Mazarin's Negotiations for the Treaty of the Pyreenes’ (Addit. MS. 20722); and ‘Rights and Jurisdiction of the Lord High Admiral of England asserted in Ireland, laid before the Admiralty by Sir Robert Southwell, Vice-admiral of Munster,’ 1693 (Egerton MS. 744). Edward Southwell (1671–1730), born in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, on 4 Sept. 1671, after being carefully educated at home under the personal supervision of his father, assisted by the advice of Sir W. Petty (see Fitzmaurice, Life of Petty, p. 305: ‘I say cram into him some Lattin, some mathematicks, some drawing, and some law … and then let Nature work’), entered Merton College, Oxford as a gentleman commoner under the tuition of Dr. Thomas Lane. He subsequently spent some time in travelling, and being, says Anthony à Wood, accounted ‘doctissimus juvenis,’ he was on 1 April 1693 sworn an extraordinary clerk to the privy council, while from 15 Aug. 1695 he was joined with James Waller and Henry Petty in the office of chief prothonotary of the common pleas in Ireland. In 1696 he paid a visit to Holland, partly for business, partly for pleasure, of which he has left an interesting account (Addit. MS. 21495). He was admitted a full clerk to the council on 13 May 1699, and on 30 July of the same year succeeded his father as vice-admiral of Munster and as secretary of state for Ireland on 27 June 1702 (Luttrell, Relation, v. 188). On the death of Lord Tankerville in 1701 he was appointed a joint commissioner of the privy seal, and in 1707 was returned M.P. for Rye. After the union with Scotland he was on 10 May 1708 constituted clerk to the privy council of Great Britain. He was unseated on petition for Rye in 1711, but apparently found a seat as member for the borough of Tregony. Under date 29 Dec. that year, Swift notes in his ‘Journal to Stella’ that there was a prospect of ‘Mr. Secretary’—meaning seemingly Southwell—being raised to the peerage, but that his services were required in the lower house. He was returned M.P. for the borough of Tregony in April 1713, and for Preston in the following November; being member for Kinsale in the Irish parliament till his death. He was continued in all his offices by George I, and on 9 Oct. 1714 was sworn of the privy council in Ireland. On 7 Nov. 1715 he succeeded to the offices of clerk to the crown and prothonotary of the king's bench, of which he had secured the reversion for himself and his son in September 1698, and on 26 April he was again made joint commissioner of the privy seal in consequence of the death of Lord Wharton. He received an augmentation to his salary as secretary of state of 300l. a year on 13 June 1720, and on 20 July following obtained a grant of that office for life to him and his son Edward. On the accession of George II he was confirmed in all his offices, but died three years later, on 4 Dec. 1730, having accumulated considerable wealth and added to his property in Ireland by the acquisition of certain lands in co. Down, where either he or his son Edward founded an important charity for the poor children on his estate (Harris, Antient and Present State of the County of Down, pp. 31, 33, 38). He was buried at King's Weston.

Southwell married first, in October 1703, the Lady Elizabeth Cromwell, ‘an heiress of 2,000l. a year’ (Luttrell, v. 346), the daughter of Vere-Essex, earl of Ardglass in Ireland and baron of Okeham in England, and by her, who died in childbed on 31 March 1709 (ib. v. 425) and was buried at Henbury, he had three sons, viz. Edward, his heir; Robert and Thomas, who both died young. Edward Southwell married, secondly, in August 1717, Anne, daughter of William Blathwaite, esq., of Derham, Gloucestershire, by whom he had one son William. His portrait, painted by Kneller in 1708, was engraved by J. Smith in 1709 (Bromley, p. 269).

[Lodge's Peerage, ed. Archdall, vi. 7–13, and authorities quoted above. Swift's Letters and Journal to Stella contain frequent references to ‘Ned’ Southwell. The Southwell MSS., comprising official as well as private documents, which, by a common but lax interpretation of individual rights in such matters, were regarded both by father and son as their property, have at last for the most part, after passing through several hands, notably of Sir Thomas Phillipps of Cheltenham, found a secure resting-place in the British Museum. The following are among the more interesting items relating to Sir Robert Southwell: Addit. MSS. 10039, letters to and from Dr. Burnett, 1688; 12114, letters to and from Pensionary Heinsius, 1697; 15858 ff. 155–8, letters to J. Evelyn, 1675–84; 18598–9, corresp. with W. Cole, 1683–1701; 21484, letters to and from the Duke of Ormonde, 1674–1687; 21494, Miscellaneous Corresp. 1686–1702; 28569 ff. 36, 54, 56, 58, 63, 64, 66, 69, letters to W. Blathwayt and others. 1682–90; 28875 ff. 19, 163, 172, 28876 passim, 28877 f. 405, 28880 ff. 165, 183, 221, 421, 28881 ff. 442, 488, 28882 ff. 43, 203, 296, 28883 f. 38, 28884 f. 7, 28886 f. 215, letters to J. Ellis, 1676–1701; 34329–34335, State Correspondence, 1665–1720; 34336–34338, Letter-Books, 1665–9; 34341–34344, letters to and from British agents in Brussels and Cologne, 1672–4; 34345, letters to and from Lord Castlehaven, 1673–4; 34346, letters to and from Sir L. Jenkins, 1673–1674. To which must be added diplomatic correspondence and state papers, from the reign of Charles II to that of Anne, recently acquired (1897), and not yet indexed. The following papers concern Edward Southwell: Addit. MSS. 11759, Miscellaneous Letters to 1672–1701; 21122–3, Corresp. with Dr. M. Coghill, 1722–35; 21131, family papers relating to estate at Downpatrick; 21136 ff. 17, 21, 21137 ff. 9, 23, 25, 29, 89, letters to and from Sir R. Cox, H. Gascoigne, and others, 1693–1705; 21138 ff. 44, 56, 58, 60, letters to and from Lord Howth and Sir C. Phipps; 28880–1–2–5–9, 28890–1–2–3–4–8, numerous letters to J. Ellis, 1696–1705; Egerton MSS. 1628, Memoranda, 1659–1699; Egerton MS. 1631, Minutes of Military Commissions in Ireland, 1705–7.]

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