Richard Southwell (died 1514)

Richard Southwell (c. 1449 – 27 September 1514[1]) was a 15th-century British administrator from Norfolk. He was a Marshal of the Exchequer and an administrator for the Duke of Norfolk.

Early lifeEdit

Richard Southwell was the son of Robert Southwell of Barnham, Norfolk and his wife Isabel Boyes.


During the second half of the fifteenth century, the Southwell name appears increasingly in government matters, with Richard being appointed to a number of commissions and administrative posts. Richard was the Member of Parliament for Yarmouth in 1455[2] and Escheator of Norfolk in 1455–56, 1459–60 and 1474.[3]

Robert Boys who owned land in Norfolk gave his mother, Sibylle Boys, power of attorney over his interests and he died six years later in 1440,[4] leaving a widow, Jane Boys, and a daughter, Katherine.[5] Jane was, at some time, promised in marriage to Southwell, but before the marriage could take place she was taken by Robert Langstrother. In retaliation Southwell took possession of Sibylle Boys' manor of Holme Hale in 1451.[4] Researchers are divided as to whether Jane went willingly with Langstrother to avoid a forced marriage to Southwell, or whether Southwell was the heroic would-be rescuer of Jane taken by force by Langstrother.[6] At the time Sibylle Boys set off for London to claim restitution from the King and his Lords.[4]

In 1461 Southwell was granted an annuity of 20 marks until he was provided for life with an office with fees of that value.In 1462 Richard was appointed to the office of Marshal of the Exchequer[7] with its accustomed fees during the minority of the son of the Duke of Norfolk. In 1475, with Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury and others, Richard was made responsible for the Duke's manors in Suffolk and Essex, while the Duke was across the sea with King Edward IV.

In 1477, he was again involved with the affairs of Yarmouth; this time as a member of a commission into a complaint by two Prussian merchants. At this time trade with Germany was an important part of the English economy, and any problems were taken seriously. Henry Faute and Hamo Barambroke had complained that a ship called la Mary of Danske, captained by Peter Eybryght, laden with goods and merchandise to the value of £600, while sailing off Yarmouth was driven ashore by evildoers who stole the cargo. This they claimed was contrary to the friendship between the King and Almain, and the offenders should be arrested and imprisoned and restitution made. In 1482, he was a commissioner examining Thomas and Margaret Brygge regarding certain felonies, murders, trespasses and offences committed by them. An unusual commission was one in 1491, when he had to determine whether Sir William Parker was a lunatic from birth or from what date and whether he alienated his lands when in that state. From 1496 to 1504 he was a commissioner of the peace for Norfolk.[8]

Marriage and familyEdit

In 1466 Richard married Amy, the coheir and eldest of the four daughters of Edmund Witchingham of Conningsby, Lincolnshire. Since she was an heiress, this marriage established the family at Woodrising, Norfolk.

Richard and his wife Amy had two sons, Robert and Francis, and four daughters, Elizabeth, Katherine, Alice and Amy.

Richard was engaged to Jane Boys in 1451 (see above).

Richard married, in 1488, the widow Katherine Sturges, daughter of John Williams, and had four more daughters, Katherine, Ursula, Amy and Elizabeth.

The status of the Southwell family in East Anglian society is reflected in the marriages of Richard's daughters, who largely married members of the minor aristocracy of the region.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Davis, Norman. The Paston Letters: A Selection in Modern Spelling.
  3. ^ An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume X by Francis Blomefield, Charles Parkin
  4. ^ a b c "Boys [née Illey], Sibylle, Lady Boys (b. c. 1370, d. in or after 1455), literary patron". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/97874. Retrieved 2020-08-19. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Bale, Anthony (2009). "A Norfolk gentlewoman and Lydgatian patronage: Lady Sibylle Boys and her cultural environment" (PDF). Medium Aevum. 78: 394–413. ISSN 0025-8385 ISSN 0025-8385 Check |issn= value (help) – via Birkbeck Institutional Research Online.
  6. ^ Clark, Anna (2009). "Editor's Introduction". Journal of British Studies. 48 (4): 815–817. doi:10.1086/603595. ISSN 0021-9371. JSTOR 27752631.
  7. ^ Francis Blomefield, 'Mitford Hundred and Half: Wood Rysing', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10 (London, 1809), pp. 273-281 [accessed 9 June 2015]
  8. ^ The Southwells of Woodrising, Norfolk by Terry and Mary Miller