The Clopton Chronicles

A Project of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society




Where Mightier Do Assault Than Do Defend





Richard Southwell, Knt. &

Saint Robert Southwell



By John Henry Knowlton, [1]




A Bright and Shining Star


In a shocking display of betrayal,

he became the chief accuser of his childhood companion

and kinsman, Henry Howard, now Earl of Surrey. 



This is the story of two men, Robert Southwell and his grandfather, Richard Southwell; one a saint the other a sinner, one a wise man the other a henchman. They lived and died during the turbulent years of the Tudor dynasty in England.  Sir Richard Southwell,[2] was a favored knight in the courts of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, and Queen Mary.  The Southwells had loyally served the crown since the time of King Edward I.  Sir Richard would raise the Southwell family to the height of power.

When his father died in 1515, Sir Richard was a minor in the eyes of the law.  He became the ward[3] of first William Wootton and then later Thomas Wyndham.  In the later part of this time of his wardship he lived with the family of his cousin, Henry Howard.[4]    In 1534 and 1535, through the influence of the Howards, Sir Richard served as Sheriff of Norfolk.[5] 

Starting in 1535 he became involved in the dissolution of the monasteries[6] which we shall see he profited greatly.  During the Pilgrimage of Grace, an uprising of the Catholic nobility against the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, Sir Richard enthusiastically helped suppress the sedition in County Norfolk.

By 1538 he was a receiver to the Court of Augmentations and he represented Norfolk as a Member of Parliament.  His star had risen and was shining brightly in the court of King Henry VIII and Sir Richard became one of the King’s favorites.  Sir Richard was appointed to the king's council and knighted.  In 1542 and 1543 Sir Richard was the commissioner of Berwick in the north of England and would supervise the release of Scottish prisoners of war.[7]  Sir Richard also assisted in the prosecution of religious heretics[8] who were convicted as traitors to the realm.




Sir Richard Southwell

by Hans Holbein, the Younger, 1536

Oil on Wood

Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence




In a shocking display of betrayal, he became the chief accuser of his childhood companion and kinsman, Henry Howard, now Earl of Surrey.  Sir Henry Howard[9] spent his early childhood at Windsor Castle with Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Richmond and the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

In 1532 Sir Henry accompanied his cousin, Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII, and the Henry FitzRoy, now Duke of Richmond, to France, staying there for over a year as a member of the entourage of King Francis I. The year 1536 saw many changes; Anne Boleyn was executed, and his friend Henry FitzRoy, died at the age seventeen.[10]   Sir Henry was a great favorite at court and known for his sonnets.[11]

But the Howards' fortunes at court depended upon Henry VIII's queens.  The Howards had been in favor when Sir Henry's cousin, Katherine Howard, became queen in 1536. [12]  But that all ended when Jane Seymour became queen.  The Seymours, a rival faction at court, began their scheming in earnest. The Seymours accused the Howards of secretly sympathizing with the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace, and Sir Henry was briefly imprisoned on that suspicion.

In the early 1540s, the Howards were back in favor, and Sir Henry was made Knight of the Garter.[13]  When Henry VIII's health was failing, Sir Henry made the mistake of announcing his opinion of the obviousness of his father's becoming Protector to Prince Edward.  The Seymour's finally had their day when Sir Henry ill-advisedly displayed royal quarterings on his shield.

Arrested with his father on trumped-up charges of treason, he was imprisoned in the Tower.  His erstwhile cousin, Richard Southwell, successfully orchestrating the proceeding, Sir Henry was condemned and executed on January 19, 1547 on Tower Hill.[14]

Following King Henry’s death and the short lived reign of Edward VI,[15] Edward’s half sister, Mary, a staunch Catholic, became queen.  As Queen, she once again restored Catholicism as the official religion of England and earned the title “Bloody Mary” in the process.  Sir Richard, no stranger to the politics of survival at court, wisely and promptly converted to Catholicism.  Sir Richard was one of the group who escorted Elizabeth, Mary’s  half sister, to court when she was under suspicion for conspiring with Wyatt.[16]  Queen Mary had made him Master of Ordinance in 1554,[17] and he held the position until her death when he was relieved by, Elizabeth, in 1560.[18]




Queen Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen”

‘The Ditchley Portrait’

by Marcus Gheeraerts, the Younger, c. 1592

Oil on Panel

National Portrait Gallery, London



A Bleeding Conscience


So would begin the game of cat and mouse

with Father Robert ministering to the Catholics,

two steps ahead of the authorities trying to catch him.



It was at the Southwell holdings near Horsham St. Faiths priory that Sir Richard's grandson Robert Southwell was born.  Robert Southwell's life would be an unusual story.  In a bizarre incident in Robert's early life he was stolen out of his cradle by gypsies who lived in the forests around his home and thought Robert was a beautiful baby.  Robert was quickly recovered.  In spite his father’s public practice of Protestantism, in private he raised Robert to be a Catholic.

At a very early age Robert was sent to the Jesuit school at Douai, France where men such as the master of philosophy Leonard Lessius would teach him. It was at the Douai school that Robert met John Cotton who would later operate a safehouse in London were later Robert would seek refuge.  When Robert was 15 he went to Paris where he was under the care of  Thomas Darbyshire who had been the Archdeacon of Essex prior to the accession of Queen Elizabeth.  Robert developed a great love for the Jesuit order and wanted to join it; however he was considered to be too young and told to wait. 

Robert was accepted into the order on October 17, 1578 which was the feast day of Saint Faith.  He traveled to Rome where he was received as a Novice.  His novitiate training period was spent in Tournai.  He went back to Rome to take his vows and be ordained into the priesthood in the summer of the year 1584.  Father Robert stayed in Rome as prefect of the English College.  It was during this time in Rome that Robert's poems began to attract attention.[19]

Father Robert applied for a mission to England to minister to the Catholics who were being persecuted.  Meanwhile, in England the regime of Queen Elizabeth had passed penal laws to repress the Catholics remaining in England.  Part of these laws dictated that "any native born subject of the queen who had been ordained a Catholic priest since the first year of her accession, and resided in this country for more than forty days, was guilty of treason, and incurred the penalty of  death."[20]  Father Robert knew his trip to England meant certain death if the authorities caught him but he resolved to go anyway regardless of the danger.  Shortly before leaving Rome for England Father Robert wrote the general of the Jesuits, Claudius Aquaviva, expressing his desire for martyrdom.[21] "I address you, my Father, from the threshold of death, imploring the aid of your prayers . . . that I may either escape the death of the body for further use, or endure it with courage."[22]  Father Robert departed for England on May 8, 1586 in the company of Father Henry Garnnett, another Jesuit priest.

The spies of Queen Elizabeth's intelligence master, Sir Francis Walsingham, reported to him that the two Jesuits had landed on the east coast of England and had been welcomed at the home of William,  Lord Vaux, in Hackney.[23]  So would begin the game of cat and mouse with Father Robert ministering to the Catholics, two steps ahead of the authorities trying to catch him. He went from safe house to safe house in disguise, saying Mass, hearing confessions, celebrating marriages, baptizing, re-admitting apostates, giving the Sacraments to the dying.  He even visited Catholics in prison and said Mass there.

Father Robert assumed the disguise of a ‘Mr. Cotton’ for his travels through the Protestant society of Elizabethan England.  He forwarded reports to Rome detailing his efforts in England and acquired the reputation of being one of the main "Papists" in England. During this time his letters home show his anxiety about the salvation of his father and his brother, Thomas.  He reveals his poetic nature in one of the letters. [24]


"Shrine not any longer a dead soul in a living body: bail reason out of senses' prison, that after so long a bondage in sin, you may enjoy your former liberty in God's Church, and free your thought from servile awe of uncertain perils. . . . Weigh with yourself at how easy a price you rate God, Whom you are content to sell for the use of your substance. . . . Look if you can upon a crucifix without blushing; do not but count the five wounds of Christ once over without a bleeding conscience."


To Father Robert's satisfaction both of them would convert back to the Catholic faith.[25]



A Place Called Limbo


While she was at Helborn

she was examined by one of Queen Elizabeth’s

favorite mad dogs, the despicable Richard Topcliffe.



The persecution of Catholics increased after the defeat of the Spanish Armada.[26]  It was said that Catholics were conspiring with Spaniards to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install a Catholic monarch in her place.  These rumors fanned the paranoid fears inherent in all monarchs, and Queen Elizabeth went on a rampage and the priests went into hiding.  Father Robert had been doing his clandestine priestly duties for nearly eight years in England and had acquired a reputation as a pious, prudent, meek and gentle man who was skillful in "helping and gaining souls".  "His character was singularly gentle, and he has never been accused of taking any part either in political intrigues or in religious disputes of a more domestic kind".[27]

He never hesitated to minister to his fellow Catholics, and did not shirk from giving comfort to even the most high profile insurgents.  Phillip Howard, the Earl of Arundel, had been arrested and convicted of treason two years earlier and was held in the Tower of London.    In 1582 his wife, Anne, became a Roman Catholic.  Sir Phillip was himself suspected of disloyalty and was regarded by the discontented Roman Catholics as the center of the plots against the Queen's government and even as a possible successor. In 1583 he was, with some reason, suspected of complicity in Francis Throckmorton's plot to overthrow the “Virgin Queen,” and prepared to escape to Flanders, but his plans were interrupted by a visit from Elizabeth I at his house in London and by her subsequent order to confine himself there.

                In September 1584 he, too, became a Roman Catholic.  His cousin, Father Robert, became his chaplain and spiritual advisor.  Later Sir Phillip was brought before the Star Chamber and sentenced to a fine and imprisonment for life. He was released for a time but was again arrested on a charge of high treason and, in 1589, condemned to death. The sentence was not executed, and he died in the Tower of London. [28]




Father Robert Southwell

Courtesy of Father Joseph F. MacDonnell, S.J.



Meanwhile Father Robert continued to pass from house to house secretly ministering to the Catholics.  One of these houses was the house of Richard Bellamy of Uxenden Hall near Harrow-on-the-Hill.  Jerome Bellamy a kinsman of Richards was executed in 1586 for his part in the conspiracy with Anthony Babington.[29]  Every surviving member of the Bellamy family was under suspicion.  Father Robert continued to visit the house to say Mass in spite of the obvious danger of discovery.  He also gave religious instruction to the Bellamy children.

Early in 1592 the government decided to arrest the entire Bellamy family and charge them of being recusants.  The gently bred Anne Bellamy was placed in the gatehouse of Westminster on January 26 of that year by order of Bishop of London, Walter Copeland.  She was then moved to the gatehouse of Helborn and stayed there until the middle of the summer.  While she was at Helborn she was examined by one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite mad dogs, the despicable Richard Topcliffe.[30]  Richard Topcliffe was the chief officer in charge of enforcing the anti-Catholic penal laws, and he did so with breath taking cruelty.  Topcliffe quickly broke her faith and her virtue.  He seduced her and she conceived a child by him.  When her condition became obvious he forced one of his servants to marry her in July.

The thoroughly traumatized young woman at last betrayed her family.  She confessed to Topcliffe the procedures used in the Bellamy household to secretly hear Mass and receive instruction.  He learned the exact location of the hiding places of the priest within the house.  With this information Topcliffe carefully planned his trap for the next priest to come to the Bellamy home.

Father Robert met Anne's brother Thomas in London, and the two rode to the Bellamy house together so Father Robert could say Mass there on June 20.  The trap was sprung and Father Robert was the victim.  Topcliffe himself returned to London in triumph with Father Robert as his prisoner.  Father Robert was imprisoned in Topcliffe's house in Westminster churchyard where he was tortured for four days with the goal of getting information to prosecute other Catholics.  Father Robert refused to answer any questions and was moved to a cell at Westminster gatehouse on June 24.

Richard Southwell, his father, visited him there and discovered he was being held in a filthy cell and was covered with lice.  Richard appealed to the queen to treat his son like a gentleman and move him to better quarters.  Father Robert was moved to the Tower of London where his father was permitted to supply him with clean clothes, books, the Bible and the works of St. Bernard and other necessities. His sister, Mary, and several other friends were allowed to visit him.  His friend Phillip Howard was in a cell not far from him and they managed to correspond using Phillip's dog as a message carrier. While in the tower Father Robert would write several poems of note including St. Peters Complaint.

Father Robert was examined thirteen times by members of the council while he was in the Tower.  He was tortured with various methods in an attempt to get him to disclose who his fellow Catholics were and other details.  All he would tell his captors was that he was a Jesuit priest and he was prepared to die for his religion. "His jailers were exasperated at his trenchant answers to their rather stupid questions.  When asked his age he would reply: "near that of our Blessed Savior when he died."[31] Every method of torture was used during these examinations except for the rack.  Father Robert was held in the Tower for nearly three years.

In February of 1595 the council ordered a trial.  He was brought from the Tower to Newgate prison where he was put in the deepest dungeon there, called Limbo.  Two days later he was brought to Westminster to be tried for high treason under the law that he had known would be the death of him. He was a Jesuit priest and he had been in England more than forty days.  Father Robert replied that he was "not guilty of any treason: when the indictment was read in court. He interrupted the attorney-generals speech for the crown to complain about the tortures he had endured. Father Robert defended himself and protested the law that he had been indicted under.  The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to the death of a traitor, to be hung, drawn and quartered.  He was taken back to Newgate to await execution.  While there he was visited by government and religious leaders who were hoping that he would reveal his fellow Catholics now that he faced death.  He would not.



The Unholy Trinity


Whether we live, we live unto the Lord:

or whether we die, we die unto the Lord.



On February 21 he was drawn on a sledge to Tyburn[32] gallows to be executed.  The method of execution was to be especially horrific.  The sentence of "to be hung, drawn and quartered " is by any stretch of the imagination one of the most barbaric methods of execution ever devised by civilized society.[33]  The prisoner was first hung by the neck and, depending on the mood of the hangman, hung only briefly or more mercifully, until he was almost dead, and then cut down.  He was then stretched upon a hurdle.[34]  Secondly he was emasculated and the part that was cut off was burned in a brazier in front of him.  He was next ritually disemboweled and the bowels were burned in the coals..  The executioner, if he was very skillful and the traitor had not died of shock yet, would reach into the body cavity and pull out the beating heart and say "Behold the heart of a traitor."   Finally the traitor had his head cut off and the body cut into quarters.  The executioner would hold up the head to which the crowd traditionally shouted "Traitor"!  The head was then placed upon a pike and displayed in a public place, usually London Bridge.  Other quarters were sent to different parts of the realm to be displayed.  This dreadful fate awaited Father Robert on his trip to Tyburn gallows.[35]

When he arrived there he was lifted on to a cart to be hanged.  Standing in the cart, Father Robert began preaching on Romans 14:


"Whether we live, we live unto the Lord: or whether we die, we die unto the Lord.  Therefore, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. . . . I am brought hither to perform the last act of this miserable life, and . . . I do most humbly desire at the hands of Almighty God for our Savior Jesus' sake, that He would vouchsafe to pardon and forgive all my sins."


He acknowledged that he was a Catholic priest and declared that he never intended harm or evil against the queen, but always prayed for her. He ended with "In manus tuas, Domine (into Your hands, Lord), I commend my spirit."[36]  The execution began.  The hangman, however,  had done his job badly, and before a horrified audience, Father Robert slowly strangled.  When an officer began to cut the rope of the still breathing priest, Lord Mountjoy and other witnesses interrupted and told him to let Father Robert alone to die.  Thus Father Robert avoided the agony of the remainder of the sentence which was still carried out on his lifeless body.  When the executioner held up Father Robert's head no one shouted the traditional "Traitor."[37] 




Saint Robert Southwell
Courtesy of Father Joseph F. MacDonnell, S.J.






The execution of Father Robert shocked the entire country.  Many of his poems and writings were immediately published. In writing his poetry, Father Southwell may be said to have had before him three motives: the expression of his own thoughts and feelings, to which life in prison gave no other outlet; the comfort and edification of his fellow Catholics; and a third, which gives them a peculiar literary interest. His poems were not published in his lifetime; but that he contemplated publication is clear from the letter to his cousin, which prefaces Saint Peters Complaint. His object, like Milton’s in the following century, was to rescue the art of poetry from the worldly uses to which it had been almost solely devoted.[38]  Six English prose tracts by Father Robert have been printed:  Mary Magdelens Tears; A Short Rule of Good Life; The Triumphs over Death; A Humble Supplication to Her Majestie; An Epistle of Comfort to the Reverend Priestes; and, Hundred Mediations of Love of God.

The early editions of his poetry were popular with Catholics and Protestants alike and attracted imitators.  Poet and author Ben Johnson said that he would willingly destroy many of his own works if he could claim authorship of the poem The Burning Babe.[39]


The Burning Babe


As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, though scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed,
As though his floods should quench his flames, which with his tears were fed.
"Alas," quoth he, "but newly born, in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts, or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood."
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas Day.


Similarly he writes the following two poems[40] on the same subject. 



A Child My Choice


Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that Child,
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word, whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love are His;
While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss.
Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme, man's most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight.
He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other due.
First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.
Though young yet wise, though small yet strong; though man yet God He is;
As wise He knows, as strong He can, as God He loves to bless.
His knowledge rules, His strength defends, His love doth cherish all;
His birth our joy, His life our light, His death our end of thrall.
Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants, yet do His angels sing;
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs, doth bud a joyful spring.
Almighty Babe, whose tender arms can force all foes to fly,
Correct my faults, protect my life, direct me when I die!



New Prince, New Pomp


Behold a silly tender Babe, in freezing winter night;
In homely manger trembling lies, alas a piteous sight:
The inns are full, no man will yield this little Pilgrim bed,
But forced He is with silly beasts, in crib to shroud His head.
Despise Him not for lying there, first what He is enquire:
An orient pearl is often found, in depth of dirty mire;
Weigh not His crib, His wooden dish, nor beasts that by Him feed:
Weigh not His mother's poor attire, nor Joseph's simple weed.
This stable is a Prince's court, the crib His chair of state:
The beasts are parcel of His pomp, the wooden dish His plate.
The persons in that poor attire, His royal liveries wear,
The Prince Himself is come from heaven, this pomp is prized there.
With joy approach, O Christian wight, do homage to thy King,
And highly prize this humble pomp, which He from heaven doth.







        1.  Richard3 Southwell, Knt., of Woodrising, Norfolk  (Francis2, Richard1)1 was born 1504 in Windham Manor, Woodrising, County Norfolk, about 16 miles southwest of Norwich, and died January 11, 1562/63 in Windham Manor, probably, Woodrising, County Norfolk, about 16 miles southwest of Norwich2.  He married (1) Thomasine Darcy, of Little Maldon, Essex Bef. 1554, daughter of Roger Darcy and Elizabeth Wentworth.    He married (2) Mary Darcy, of Danbury, County Essex Aft. 1556, daughter of Thomas Darcy and Elizabeth de Vere.  She was born in Danbury, County Essex, about 6 miles east of Chelmsford, and about 8 miles west of Maldon, and died in Windham Manor, probably, Woodrising, County Norfolk, about 16 miles southwest of Norwich.

        Sir Richard was to father two children by Mary Darcy, while still married to Thomasine Darcy, her cousin.  It was not an uncommon practice for men of power to keep a mistress, and Sir Richard was a man of power.  If Sir Richard was a friend of Henry VIII, renown for his philandering ways, we can presume they may have had similar ideas.  Sir Richard, did, however, marry Mary following the death of his first wife.  This is suggestive that the first marriage was an arranged, loveless union, and that he and Mary were in love.  Following their marriage the couple had at least three more children.

        The Parish Church of All Saints, Maldon, County Essex, features the D’Arcy Chapel.  The south front of the church is possibly the most attractive view of the church.  The tower dates from the 13th century and is unique in its triangular design.  In the buttresses are niches which doubtless originally held statues of saints, although no record remains to substantiate this assumption.  Early in the 20th century, figures of notable persons associated with Maldon were placed in them.  Within the church are two monuments of interest.  One on the south wall, although missing its brasses, commemorates Thomas D’Arcy ( - 1485) who was the bodyguard of Edward IV and Henry VII, and the son and heir of Sir Robert D”Arcy.  The other, on the east well, is to Henry Wentworth ( - 1614) and his wife, Ann Stacy ( - 1634).  They left property in the town as a benefaction to the church.  In the late 20th century the property was still administered as the “Wentworth Charity.”

        Like the Cloptons, the Wentworth and de Vere families claim royal descent from King Edward III.



Sir Robert D’Arcy (1385-1448) portrayed as a knight of the Lancastrian period.  Sir Robert was a Member of Parliament for Maldon in 1422 and several times represented the County of Essex.  Sir Robert built a large home in Maldon, which became known as D’Arcy’s Tower and after 1576, the Moot Hall.  Upon his death he left money for the founding of a D’Arcy chantry.  This was housed in the portion of All Saints’ which Sir Robert had built before his death and known as the D’Arcy Chapel.  The D’Arcy arms include three cinquefoils and there are frequent cinquefoils incorporated in the carvings throughout the church.




Child of Richard Southwell and Thomasine Darcy is:

        2                 i.    Eizabeth4 Southwell, of Woodrising2, born 1554 in Windham Manor, probably, Woodrising, County Norfolk, about 16 miles southwest of Norwich, and was christened in 1554.  She married George Heneage.


Children of Richard Southwell and Mary Darcy are:

+      3                 i.    Richard4 Southwell, Knt Horsham S. Faith's, illeg, born 1548 in Danbury, County Essex, and christened in 1550 at  Woodrising, County Norfolk, about 16 miles southwest of Norwich.

        4                ii.    Thomas Southwell, of Monton, illeg, born 1552 in Danbury, County Essex, about 6 miles east of Chelmsford, and about 8 miles west of Maldon; died April 8, 1609.

        5               iii.    Mary Southwell, of Woodrising, Norfolk, born 1556 in Windham Manor, probably, Woodrising, County Norfolk, about 16 miles southwest of Norwich, and was christened in 1556; died 1622.

        6               iv.    Dorothy Southwell, of Woodrising, Norfolk, born in Danbury, County Essex, about 6 miles east of Chelmsford, and about 8 miles west of Maldon.

        7                v.    Katherine Southwell, of Woodrising, Norfolk, born in Danbury, County Essex, about 6 miles east of Chelmsford, and about 8 miles west of Maldon; died October 29, 1611.


The Southwells are direct descendants of Alice Clopton and her husband, John Harleston.  Their son, John, married Margery Bardwell.  Their daughter, Margaret Harleston married Thomas Darcy, and their son, Roger, married Elizabeth Wentworth, and their daughter, Thomasine, married Richard Southwell.  Alice Clopton’s elegant brass may be seen at Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford.  The eldest daughter of Sir William Clopton, Lord of the Manor of Kentwell Hall and his first wife, Margery Drury.  Her effigy is 36 inches in length and is in good condition.  The brass was engraved about forty years after her death as evidenced by the patterns of her headdress and costume.  It may have been commissioned by her half brother, John Clopton, the great benefactor of the church.  It is located in the floor of the Clopton Chapel at the east end of the North Aisle.  She is shown wearing a large Butterfly pattern headdress and a costume emblazoned with heraldry dominated by those of the Cloptons, Harlestons, and Wauton of Denston.  Her forehead is shown carefully plucked of all hair, the custom when wearing this type of headdress.  One of the most arresting – and rare – features is the addition of a transparent veil which flows gently across her forehead.  Although there was once four shields of arms surrounding the brass on her grave slab, only one, that of her father survives.  A portion of a single canopy above her effigy remains, which features the badge of the House of York in the central circle.  A flying angel below the arch holds a blank shield.



Generation No. 2


        3.  Richard4 Southwell, Knt Horsham S. Faith's, illeg (Richard3, Francis2, Richard1)3 was born 1548 in Danbury, County Essex, and christened in 1550 at  Woodrising, County Norfolk, about 16 miles southwest of Norwich.  He married Bridget Copley, of Roughway, Sussex, daughter of Roger Copley and Elizabeth Shelley. 

        Sir Richard followed in his father's footsteps in supporting the King. He practiced the protestant faith of the Church of England. Richard married Bridget Copley who was the Governess of Queen Elizabeth.  Bridget's mother was Elizabeth Shelley. Another branch of this same Shelley family was to produce Percy Bysshe Shelley, the great poet of the early 1800's.  The priory of Horsham St Faiths had been turned into a Benedictine monastery after the Knights Templar were dissolved.  Sir Richard obtained it and his son, Richard, occupied it as his home.


Children of Richard Southwell and Bridget Copley are:

        8                 i.    Richard5 Southwell, III, of Spixworth, Norfolk3, born in Horsham St. Faith, County Norfolk, about 4 miles north of Norwich.  He married Alice Cornwallis, of Brome, County Suffolk4 August 23, 1552 in Brome, County Suffolk5; born in Brome, County Suffolk, about 2 miles north of Eye, and baptized at St. Mary, Brome.

               St. Mary's Church retains its original Norman round tower, although the rest of the church was entirely rebuilt in 1863.  Tombs of the Cornwallis dominate the interior.  The finest is that of Alice Cornwallis' grandparents, Sir John Cornwallis and his wife, Lady Mary, in the chancel.  It is a cenotaph armorial altar tomb with recumbent effigies bearing the inscription "Iohannes Cornwaleis Miles Willmi Cornwaleis Armigeri filius in Domo Principis Edowardi oeconomus:  et uxor eiusdem Maria Edowardi Suliarde de Eassex Armigeri filia, qui quid Iohannes, 23 Aprils Anno Domini 1544 obiit Astrugie incomitatu Buckingham cum ibidem Princeps Edovardus versaretur."  A cenotaph is an empty tomb erected in honor of the deceased who is buried elsewhere.

               The tomb of her parents, Sir Thomas Cornwallis and Lady Anne, is an armorial altar tomb with their effigies, the inscription reading "Sr. Thomas Cornwaleys Soone of Sr. Ihon was of Queen Mary her Prevy Councell and Treasurer of Caleys after Comptroller of her houshold in special Grace and trusts of his Mrs. Who Untimely lousing her Life retired him self to this Towne wher he spent the rest of his own priviately and loyally all the rayne of Queen Elizabeth her sister and died heer the second yeer of King Iames the 26 of December 1604 in the 86 yeer of his age."

        9                ii.    Katherine Southwell, of Horsham St. Faith6, born 1566 in Horsham St. Faith, County Norfolk, about 4 miles north of Norwich, and christened 1566 at Norwich, County Norfolk; died 1618 in County Norfolk.  She married Leonard Mapes, of Beeston; born 1562 in Beeston, County Norfolk, about 12 miles northwest of Norwich; died February 4, 1618/19 in Beeston, County Norfolk, about 12 miles northwest of Norwich.

        10             iii.    Thomas Southwell, of Horsham St. Faith, born in Horsham St. Faith, County Norfolk, about 4 miles north of Norwich.

        11             iv.    Robert Southwell, of Horsham St. Faith, born Abt. 1561 in Horsham St. Faith, County Norfolk, about 4 miles north of Norwich7; died February 22, 1594/95 in Tyburn.  He was hanged for preaching the Catholic faith.

        12              v.    Elizabeth Southwell, of Horsham St. Faith, born in Horsham St. Faith, County Norfolk, about 4 miles north of Norwich.

        13             vi.    Anne Southwell, of Horsham St. Faith, born in Horsham St. Faith, County Norfolk, about 4 miles north of Norwich.

        14            vii.    Frances Southwell, of Horsham St. Faith, born in Horsham St. Faith, County Norfolk, about 4 miles north of Norwich; died 1643.

        15           viii.    Mary Southwell, of Horsham St. Faith, born in Horsham St. Faith, County Norfolk, about 4 miles north of Norwich.





1.  John Henry Knowlton, Jr. provided the information regarding this family unless otherwise noted.

2.  Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 18, p. 701.

3.  John Henry Knowlton, Jr. provided the information regarding this family unless otherwise noted.

4.  Hervy, The Visitation of Suffolk 1561,  (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 150.

5.  "1552.  23 August.  'Alice, daughter of Sir Thos. Cornwallis'' Married Richard Southwell'."  States he was of Spixworth, County Norfolk, about 2 miles east of Horsham St. Faith

6.  John Henry Knowlton, Jr. provided the information regarding this family unless otherwise noted.

7.  Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 18, p. 702.






Comments?  Questions?  Corrections?



[1] Where Mightier Do Assault Than Do Defend, is an excerpt from The Clopton Chronicles, the Ancestors and Descendants of Sir Thomas Clopton, Knight & Dame Katherine Mylde, and is the property of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society which holds the copyright on this material.  Permission is granted to quote or reprint articles for noncommercial use provided credit is given to the CFGS and to the author.  Prior written permission must be obtained from the Society for commercial use.

John Henry Knowlton is a member of The Clopton Family Genealogical Society & Clopton Family Archives and serves on the Society’s Editorial Advisory Board.  He is a descendant of the Cloptons through his Southwell line by both marriages of Katherine Mylde, her first to Thomas Clopton, Knt. and secondly, William deTendring, Knt.

The Society wishes to thank Father Joseph MacDonnell, S.J. of Fairfield University, Connecticut.  Father MacDonnell is webmaster of The Jesuit Family Album,, which includes biographies of Jesuits in history; Katherine I. Rabenstein, Editor, Saints o the Day, St. Patrick’s Church,;  and, Anniina Jokinen, Editor,  Luminarium,

Also thanks to Clopton descendants Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton; Wallace Chandler Clopton; and, Isabel Lancaster (Clopton) Steiner.

[2] Sir Richard Southwell was the son of Francis Southwell, Auditor of the Exchequer, and his wife, Dorothy Tendering.  An abbreviated genealogy follows.  Dorothy Tendering was a kinswoman of Katherine Mylde’s second husband

[3] Wards were an asset because the income of the ward's estate went to whoever was appointed over the ward.  Hence the rights to a ward would be bought and sold as an asset. Age of majority was 21 years old.  Sir Richard would not gain control of his father’s estates until 1525.

[4] The boys were both descendants of Dame Katherine Mylde and her second husband.  See The Descendants of William deTendring, Knt., of Tendering Hall & His Wife Dame Katherine Mylde

[5] Dictionary of National Biography, Founded in 1882 by George Smith; Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee, Editors; Published since 1917 by the Oxford University Press, London: Humphrey Milford, Volume 18, p. 700-702.  This account states that Sir Richard in 1531 was involved in a murder but was pardoned after paying one thousand pounds in fines.  No further explanation is given and this incident remains a mystery.

[6] Clopton kinsman, Henry VIII began to systematically dismantle the great wealth of the Catholic Church by closing and confiscating all the religious houses within his domain.  In April 1536, in the twenty seventh year of his reign, and a month before he was to take wife number three, more than 800 religious houses existed throughout England and Wales.  There were within them 10,000 monks, canons, nuns and friars.  By April 1540 there were none.

[7] James V of Scotland had been offered the Crown of Ireland by some Irish chiefs in 1542.  Henry VIII of England responded by proclaiming himself Lord-Superior of Scotland and sending an army into Scotland.  The Scots were defeated at Solway Moss and prisoners were taken. Scotland: A Concise History by Fitzroy Maclean, Thames and Hudson LTD, London, 1993.

[8] By Henry VIII's standards anyone who refused to acknowledge him as head of the Church of England was a heretic and a traitor and deserved to die.  Sir Thomas More fell into this category and paid with his life.  Sir Richard Southwell was involved in his prosecution and that of other "heretics," such as John Rogers, Vicar of St.Sepulchres and Reader of St.Paul's London.

[9] Sir Henry was given his title by courtesy in 1524 on the passing away of his grandfather, Thomas, Earl of Surrey Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, when his father became 3rd Duke of Norfolk.

[10] Sir Henry's childhood friend, who was also his brother-in-law, was buried at one of the Howard homes, Thetford Abbey.

[11]  He established a form that was used by Shakespeare and that has become known as the English sonnet form:  three quatrains and a couplet, rhyming abab cdcd efef gg. Even more significant, he was the first English poet to publish in blank verse-unrhymed iambic pentameter-a verse form so popular in the succeeding four centuries that it seems almost indigenous to the language. The work in which he used this "strange meter," as the publisher called it, was a translation of part of Virgil's "Aeneid."  Sir Henry's poetry circulated in manuscript form in court circles for years.  He published his "Epitaph on Sir Thomas Wyatt, his kinsman, but most of his poetry first appear in 1557, ten years after his death in "Songs and Sonnets," now referred to as "Tottel's Miscellany."

[12] This marriage almost brought an end not only of the Howards but of the descendants of certain Cloptons.  See Midnight Romps & Wilted Roses.

[13] He served in the war with Scotland in 1542, and in 1543 he fought in Flanders with the English army on the side of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, who was seeking to acquire the Netherlands. The following year Sir Henry was wounded at the siege of Montreuil.  In 1545-1546 he became Commander of the garrison of Boulogne.

[14] Sir Henry and his wife, Frances de Vere, are buried in an elaborate painted alabaster tomb in the chancel of St. Michael, Framlingham, County Suffolk.  At one end of the tomb figures of their sons, Thomas, the fourth Duke, and Henry, Earl of Northampton, kneel.  At the other end are the figures of their daughters, Jane, Katherine and Mary.

It was Sir Howard's misfortune to be executed only nine days before the death of Henry VIII who was both his judge and jury.  To signify that he was beheaded, a replica of his coronet lies beside his effigy on the tomb.   Their son, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, was executed in 1572.

                Sir Richard was also involved in the prosecution of Sir Thomas More for treason.  The prosecution of Sir Thomas More was the subject of the movie A Man For All Seasons. Sir Thomas refused to recognize Henry VIII as head of the Church of England and to take a loyalty oath to him. In The Story of Thomas More by John Farrow, Sir Richard is mentioned. "More should not be allowed his pleasure of reading. Sir Richard Southwell and a Master Palmer were ordered to remove all books from his cell."

[15] The child of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, he was crowned February 20, 1547 and died July 6, 1553 from pulmonary tuberculosis and possibly congenital syphilis after reigning 6 years.

                The Dictionary of National Biography states Sir Richard was imprisoned in 1549 and again in 1550 and supposes he was imprisoned at Fleet Prison possibly because of his Catholic faith, however there is no evidence that this was the reason.  Indeed, there is no documentation that he became a Catholic until the reign of Queen Mary, “Blood Mary.”  It is extremely doubtful that the self-seeking Sir Richard would endanger his own life by converting to Catholicism during the brief reign of the Protestant Edward VI.

[16] Sir Thomas Wyatt (1521?-1554) led one of four rebellions caused by the marriage of Queen Mary to Phillip of Spain.  He marched on London with 3000 followers proclaiming that he did not want to harm the queen but wanted to change the councilors.  The rebellions all failed and over 100 were executed as traitors including Wyatt.

[17] Sir Richard was rewarded for his support of the crown with the granting of title to several pieces of  property including two in County Norfolk, Carbrook Magna, near Watton, Commandery and Chapel of Knights Hospitallers  and Horsham St. Faith’s Hospital, near Norwich, Hospital of the Knights Templar.   He had much more property and was considered to be a very wealthy man.

[18] As Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabeth descended in all her glory upon Long Melford and partook of the hospitality of Mary Clopton and her husband, William Cordell.  See Two Hundred Men in Velvet

[19] A selection follows.

[20] Dictionary of National Biography, p. 702

[21] Dictionary of National Biography, p. 702

[22] Saints O the Day, Saint Patricks Church,,  Robert Southwell, SJ M (RM)

[23] Dictionary of National Biography, p. 702

[24] Saints O the Day ,Saint Patricks Church,, Robert Southwell, SJ M (RM)

[25] Thomas would die in exile in the Netherlands and his father would later die in prison for his faith.

[26] The Spanish Armada was the fleet that King Phillip of Spain had sent to invade England.  The Armada was destroyed by a combination of daring English seamanship and a fierce storm. In another interesting situation Saint Robert's kinsman, Sir Robert Southwell, and Saint Phillip Howard's kinsman, Lord Thomas Howard both commanded ships in the naval battle that defeated the Spanish Armada that St. Robert and St. Phillip were both accused of assisting.  History is full of irony and tragedy.

[27] Herbert Thurston, Venerable Robert Southwell, transcribed by Janet Grayson The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV, 1912; later by Robert Appleton Company, Online Edition, 1999, by Kevin Knight, Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

[28] During this period of Father Robert's work he wrote pieces to console his fellow Catholics and try to comfort them.  When Margaret Sackville, the wife of Earl of Dorset Robert Sackville, died Father Robert wrote Triumphs Over Death to console her children.  He wrote Mary Magdalens Funeral Teares and dedicated it to Dorothy Arundel, the daughter of Sir John Arundel and wife of Edward Cosworth.  In the autumn of 1591 a proclamation was issued by the government to rigorously enforce the penal laws against Catholics.  Father Robert  wrote a Humble Supplication to Queen Elizabeth in response to the increased persecution.  A printing press was installed in the Arundel house to print copies of Father Robert's treatises so they could be widely distributed to Catholics in England.   Father Robert's name was not published as the author, however, the government suspected him and would later use this against him.   Marie Magdalens Funeral Teares by Robert Southwell, Scholars Facsimilies & Reprint, May 1999 is available through special interest bookstores and certain large bookstore chains.

[29] Sir Anthony Babington was a Catholic knight who had served Queen Mary faithfully.  He was the son of Henry Babington and Mary Darcy (daughter of one of the Yorkshire Darcys).  Sir Anthony participated in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth and place Mary (later known as Mary, Queen of Scots) on the throne of England.  Sir Anthony wrote Mary to get her blessing for the plot.  She wrote back from her imprisonment saying she supported the plot.  Both letters were read by Walshingham, Queen Elizabeth's security chief.  Both Mary QOS and Babington went to the block for their part. Who's Who in Tudor England, C.R.N. Routh, Shepheard-Walwyn publishing London 1990

[30] The son of Robert Topcliffe of Somerby near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire and Margaret, daughter of Thomas, Lord Borough, spent twenty five years or more actively engaged in hunting out Catholics recusants, Jesuits, seminary priests, and occasionally, gypsies.  This employment procured for him so much notoriety that “a Topcliffian custom” became a euphuism for putting to the rack, and in the quaint language of the court, “topcliffizare” signified to hunt a recusant.  Writing an account of the apprehension and torture of Robert Southwell, the Bishop of Southwark, wrote:  “because the often exercise of the rack in the Tower was so odious, and so much spoken of by the people, Topcliffe had authority to torment priests in his own house in such sort as he shall think good.”  In fact, Topcliffe himself boasted that he had a machine at home, of his own invention, compared with which the common racks in use were mere child’s play.  The account of his cruel treatment of Father Southwell would be incredible if it were not confirmed by admissions in Topcliffe’s own handwriting.  Topcliffe married Jane Willoughby of Wollaton, Nottinghamshire and had issue.  The Dictionary of National Biography, Sir Leslie Stephens and Sir Sidney Lee, Editors, Oxford University Press, London, 1917, Volume 19, p. 979-980.  Topcliffe had several opportunities to terrorize Clopton kinsmen, see 200 Men in Velvet.

[31] Father Joseph MacDonnell, S.J., Fairfield University.

[32] The Tyburn area was first used as a place of execution in 1196, when it became the location for dispatching political prisoners. Traditions grew around the gallows. Upper class members on the way to Tyburn were offered a glass of sherry along the route at the George and Blue Boar, while criminals proceeding from Newgate received a bowl of ale at St. Giles in the Fields. The sexton of St. Giles would toll the bells of the church for all prisoners. A holiday atmosphere often prevailed around the gallows, complete with seating for spectators, vendors hawking their wares, and notable citizens crowding to watch the execution, or perhaps even riding in the cart with a prisoner known to them. James Boswell was often in attendance and enjoyed a good execution.

[33] A more graphic description may be found in Baronage's discussion of the execution of William Wallace at  There are also other sites regarding this practice under capital punishment.   Example

[34] A movable framework of split timber, sticks, twigs  that are joined together and used for making gates, fences, enclosures etc.  Funk & Wagnalls New Standrad Dictionary of the English Language 1943

[35] Father Robert was not the only Clopton kinsman to die this way.  See Two Hundred Men in Velvet

[36] Saints O the Day, Saint Patricks Church,, Robert Southwell, SJ M (RM)

[37] Father Robert Southwell became Saint Robert Southwell in 1970 along with his friend Phillip Howard by Pope Paul VI.  A total of forty English martyrs were made saints to recognize their part in the struggle against religious oppression in England.

[38] The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton. VII. Robert Southwell. Samuel Daniel.,§ 1. Robert Southwell, By Harold H. Child, found on the Internet site

[39] Poetry of the English Renissance, 1509-1660, J. William Hebel and Hoyt H. Hudson, Editors, F. S. Crofts & Co., New York, 1941, p. 238.  From St. Peter’s Complaint, 1595

[40] A Sixteenth Century Anthology, Arthur Symons, Editor, Blaackie & Son, Ltd., London, 1905. p. 229-230.  Also see The Complete Poems of Robert Southwell, by Robert Southwell, The Fuller Worthies Library Series, AMS Press, June 1970.