Robert Southwell 1635-1702

From Book Owners Online

Sir Robert SOUTHWELL 1635-1702

Biographical Note

Born near Kinsale, co. Cork, son of Robert Southwell, landowner and collector of the customs in Kinsale. BA Queen's College, Oxford 1655. Entered at Lincoln's Inn 1654. In the late 1650s and early 1660s he travelled extensively in Europe, including France, Italy and the Netherlands. Clerk to the Privy Council 1664, English emissary to Portugal 1665, when he was knighted. MP for Penryn, Cornwall 1672-79, for Lostwithiel 1685. Commissioner for the excise 1671, secretary to the commission of prizes 1672., around which time he purchased a country estate at King's Weston near Bristol as well as a town house in Westminster. His fortunes suffered a few reversals during the 1680s but was appointed principal secretary for Ireland by William III in 1689, and then commissioner for managing the English customs. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1662, he was President of the Royal Society 1690-95, and took an active interest in its affairs and in the intellectual life of its members.


Southwell's lengthy will has no mention of books, and is principally concerned with disposing of his various estates and properties between his son and other family members. He was an early English user of a bookplate, which was engraved ca.1680, but the size of his library is not known.

Characteristic Markings

None of Southwell's books have been identified.