Southwell, Thomas (1667-1720) (DNB00)

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SOUTHWELL, THOMAS, first Baron Southwell (1667–1720), was the eldest son of Richard Southwell of Callow, by his wife Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Murrough O'Brien, first earl of Inchiquin [q. v.], and grandson of Sir Thomas Southwell of Castle Matras, who, by patent dated 4 Aug. 1662, in consideration of his loyal affection and merits, was created a baronet by Charles II. The first baronet outlived his only son Richard, and, dying in May 1681, was buried at Rathkeale, co. Limerick.

On succeeding to the baronetcy in 1681 Southwell took a prominent place among the protestant gentry of Munster. The rule of Tyrconnel during 1687–8 was in the last degree distasteful to him, and he freely risked his life to prevent a recurrence of it. When in February 1688–9 Moyallon surrendered to James, he set out with a party of a hundred men, including his brother William, resolved to effect a junction with Lord Kingston at Sligo, and there to prepare a common defence. On the way they had several skirmishes with the enemy, who occupied the country in force, but without much loss, until the sheriff of Galway, James Power, by means of a number of false guides, succeeded in entrapping them in a narrow pass, where they were surrounded and forced to surrender. That night they were conveyed to Loughrea, and next day, 10 March 1688–9, they were delivered to the sheriff's custody, and confined in the county court-house at Galway. The security of their lives and persons had been promised them upon surrender, and when put upon their trial before Judge Martin on 16 March, they were prevailed upon to submit themselves to James's lenity. Next day, however, they were all sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, as guilty of high treason. Ultimately, after several reprieves, upon the intercession of the Earl of Seaforth, Southwell was released on 2 Jan. 1690, and at once proceeded to England. His influence and that of his friends helped to secure reprieves for his comrades, who were not finally released until William's victory at the Boyne on 1 July 1690. In April 1693 Southwell received a commission to inspect and receive arrears due on crown lands in Ireland, and on 16 June 1697 he was made one of the four commissioners of revenue in Ireland, a post to which he was reappointed in 1702, and which he retained until 1712. On 12 Feb. 1700 he was further made a trustee for the erection of barracks in Ireland. In May 1710 he was made a member of the Irish privy council, and on 9 Oct. 1714 reappointed a commissioner of revenue. In this capacity, during the whole of his tenure, he did all in his power to assist in the work of fostering and improving the linen industry in Ireland, which was undertaken primarily by Samuel-Louis Crommelin [q. v.], one of whose factories was erected at Rathkeale; and in 1709 he encouraged a large number of poor protestant emigrants from the Palatinate and Suabia to settle in three villages on his estate in co. Limerick. By patent, dated 4 Sept. 1717, he was created Baron Southwell of Castle Mattress (Matras) in the Irish House of Lords. Three years later, on 4 Aug. 1720, he died suddenly at Dublin, and was buried at Rathkeale. He married, in April 1696, Meliora, eldest daughter of Thomas Coningsby, baron of Clanbrassil (and afterwards Earl of Coningsby) [q. v.]; she died in London in February 1736. Of their numerous family, Thomas (1698–1766) succeeded him as second Baron Southwell; Henry entered the army, and represented Limerick in parliament (1735–1758); Robert, a naval volunteer, was killed in a duel by Henry Luttrell on 30 May 1724, and buried in St. James's, Piccadilly; and Richard became in 1742 rector of Dungory in the diocese of Cloyne.

The first baron's younger brother, William Southwell (1669–1719), entered the army under William III, obtaining a commission in Colonel Hamilton's regiment of foot, on 1 Sept. 1693; he was promoted captain-lieutenant on 20 Aug. 1694, and, having been severely wounded at the assault of Terra Nova, Namur, was promoted captain on 4 Sept. 1695. He became major of Colonel James Rivers's (6th) regiment of foot on 5 Feb. 1702, and lieutenant-colonel on 1 Jan. 1704. He greatly distinguished himself in the operations which led up to the capture of Barcelona in September 1705. Prince George of Hesse, whose first idea was to surprise the fortress of Monjuich (which dominated the town), entrusted the command of four hundred English and Irish grenadiers to Southwell. When this plan had to be abandoned for an escalade, the prince ordered him to lead the advance. With great bravery his men climbed the bank and charged the enemy, who retreated after but one volley. Gallantly leading his grenadiers under a heavy fire of musketry, Southwell pressed on to the ditch, only to find that the scaling ladders were too short. Prince George having been mortally wounded in an attempt to remedy this disaster by a diversion, Southwell, with Charlemont and Prince Henry, did his utmost to revive the drooping spirits of the besiegers. Four days later, on 17 Sept., after a bombardment by Michael Richards [q. v.], under which the powder in the fortress exploded, Southwell was the first officer to attain the breach, which he entered sword in hand, whereupon the garrison promptly surrendered, and Barcelona was captured three weeks later. Southwell was made temporary governor of Monjuich, and on 6 Feb. 1706 was promoted colonel. His conduct was highly praised by Marlborough in a letter to Peterborough dated February 1707. He sold his regiment on 14 June 1708 to Colonel Harrison for five thousand guineas. On 7 Nov. 1714 he was appointed captain of the company of guards, armed with battleaxes, appointed to attend the lord lieutenant. Next year he was returned to the Irish House of Commons for Baltimore, which he represented until his death, on 21 Jan. 1719. He married Lucy, younger daughter and coheiress of William Bowen of Ballydans in Queen's County (she died on 25 Aug. 1733), by whom he left numerous issue.

[Lodge's Irish Peerage, 1789, vi. 18–25; Indictment of John Price, with an account of the seizing and condemnation of Sir Thomas Southwell, July 1689; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation, vols. i. iii. and iv.; Lewis's Topographical Hist. of Ireland, s.v. ‘Rathkeale;’ Addit. MSS. 28888 f. 310, and 28889 f. 65. For William Southwell see Dalton's English Army Lists, iii. 325; Marlborough's Despatches, ed. Murray, i. 211, ii. 426; Boyer's Anne, 1735, p. 293; Parnell's War of Succession in Spain, pp. 128–36; Records of the Sixth Foot, p. 108; Targe's Hist. de l'Avènement de la Maison de Bourbon, iv. 80, 89.]

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