Authorised form of nameSouthwell; Sir; Robert (1635 - 1702); diplomat and government official
Dates1635 - 1702
Dates and placesBirth:
Battin Warwick, on the river Bandon, near Kinsale, Ireland, Europe (31 December 1635)
King's Weston, Gloucestershire, England, Europe (11 September 1702)
Henbury Church, Gloucestershire, England, Europe
Civil servant
Queen's College, Oxford; BA (1655), DCL (1677); Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1654)
Travelled abroad (1659-1661); Clerk to the Commission of Prizes (1664-1667); Clerk to the Privy Council (1664-1679); Deputy Vice-Admiral of the Provinces of Munster (1665), Vice-Admiral (1677); Envoy extraordinary to Portugal (1665-1669), Flanders (1671-1672) and to the Elector of Brandenburg (1680); Chief Commissioner of Excise (1671-1681); Commissioner for Assessment for Middlesex (1673-1680, Westminster (1677-1680), Gloucestershire (1679-1680, 1689-1690); MP for Penrhyn (1673-1679), Lostwithiel (1685-1687); Commissioner of Customs (1689-1697); Deputy-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire (1689-1694); Principal Secretary of State for Ireland (1690-1702); Privy Councillor, Ireland (1690-death); endowed an almshouse for eight helpless men and women on his estate at Dromderrick, Kinsale (1682)
Kt 1665
Royal Society activityMembership:
Original Fellow
Election Date:
Robert Boyle (9 April 1662)
Admitted 7 May 1662
On Council (1670; 1674-1676; 1678; 1680-1681); PRS 1690-1695; VP 1695; 1698
Committee appointments include:
Committee to examine the structure and sailing of Sir William Petty's new ship (1662)
Mechanical Committee (1664)
Committee for the Histories of Trades (1664)
Committee for improving the English language (1664)
Other RSActivity:
Correspondent to the Society and submits samples of oils and plants (1659)
Brought into a horn allegedly from a unicorn as well as other animal samples (1662)
Asked to contribute to plans for Society's college (1668)
RelationshipsParents: Robert Southwell and Helena Gore
Married: Elizabeth Dering
Children: Edward Southwell (FRS 1692)
Additional relatives: uncle-by-marriage of Sir John Percivale (FRS 1681)
General contextDuring the Commonwealth period, Southwell's profited from the Cromwell administrations and his property in Kinsale increased, which in turn enabled the younger Southwell to travel abroad. A possible motive for these travels was to create and improve relationships with exiled royalists. Later, Southwell earned roughly £1000 from property in Ireland.

Southwell P0122.jpg

Bulloch's Roll; DNB; Foster; Henning; ODNB
Marco Beretta, 'At the source of Western science: the organization of experimentalism at the Accadmeia del Cimento (1657-1667)' in NR 2000 vol 54 pp 131-151
Susana Gomez Lopez, 'The Royal Society and Post-Galilean Science in Italy' in NR 1997 vol 51 pp 35-44
Penelope M Gouk, 'Acoustics in the Early Royal Society 1660-1680' in NR 1981-82 vol 36 pp 155-175
T Quinn, 'In this issue' in NR 2004 vol 58 pp 245 - 247
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA8282
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
EL/C2/13Dethlevus Cluverus, dated at Sleswig, to Robert Southwell4 November 1691
EL/C2/17William Cole to Robert Southwell at King's Weston16 September 1693
IM/004326Southwell, Sir Robert2001
EL/I1/137Henry Justel to Robert Southwell1692
MS/14Varias receitas e segredos da medicina: anonymous medical receiptsc.1669
EL/A/42Letter, from St George Ashe to Robert Southwell12 February 1694
EL/S1/15Robert Southwell, dated at Dublin, to Henry Oldenburg10 December 1662
EL/C2/7Mr Crisp to Robert Southwell20 November 1681
EL/C2/20William Cole, dated at Bristol, to Robert Southwell16 November 1695
EL/S1/20Robert Southwell, dated at Lisbon, to Captain Shanon10 December 1667
EL/I1/142Henry Justel to Robert Southwell13 May 1693
EL/O1/120Henry Oldenburg, dated at London, to Robert Southwell8 June 1669
RBO/7/59'The way of makeing Globe Looking glasses' by Robert Southwellnd
EL/S1/22Robert Southwell, dated at Custom House, to Robert Hooke7 September 1692
EL/P1/95Robert Plot, dated at London, to Robert Southwell24 October 1694
EL/S1/12Robert Southwell, dated at Dublin, to Henry Oldenburg11 February 1662
EL/S1/23Robert Southwell, dated at King's Weston, to Hans Sloane13 October 1697
EL/S1/14Robert Southwell to Henry Oldenburgnd
EL/S1/18Robert Southwell, dated at Lisbon, to Mr Smith9 December 1667
EL/C2/18William Cole, dated at Bradfield, to Robert Southwell14 July 1693
RBO/7/63'Several Experiments concerning preserving of flowers Fruits etc in their Colours' by Robert Southwellnd
RBO/7/60'A paper of experiments relating to the Phosphorus' communicated by Robert Southwellnd
EL/S1/17Robert Southwell, dated at Dublin, to Henry Oldenburg26 April 1663
RBO/7/69'Several Experiments about giveing Variety of Tinctures to water etc' by Robert Southwellnd
EL/S1/16Robert Southwell, dated at Dublin, to Henry Oldenburg4 February 1662
MM/15/36"A list of 20 medals found in a Pott full of the like sort found 1691 in the Island of the proprietor Mr John Williams and by him sent to Sr Robert Southwell"17th century
CLP/19/15Paper, list of things to do in Portugal for Robert Southwell20 September 1665
CLP/15i/55Observations of a calf with two heads by Robert Southwellnd
RBO/4/59'A Discourse made by Sir Robert Southwell ... about water'1675
CLP/9i/47Paper, 'An account of the damage that hapnd in the Isle of Portland the 3rd of February 1695' by unknown author[1695]
MM/20/56Letter from Thomas Henshaw to Robert Southwell18 November 1682
MM/20/55Letter from Thomas Henshaw to Robert Southwell16 May 1682
RBO/7/94Nicholas Holloway's method to achieving fine Malaga wine communicated by Robert Southwellnd
RBO/7/123'An Account of the Copper works on the Avon three miles about Bristol' communicated by Robert Southwellnd
MM/20/57Letter from Thomas Henshaw to Robert Southwell23 December 1682
P/0122Portrait of Southwell, Sir Robert1690s
NLB/11/670Copy letter from Theodore E James, to J N Brushfield, The Cliff, Budleigh Salterton10 September 1895
MM/23/1Letter from Sir Robert Southwell, Lisbon, to John Kempthorne, Bay of Wares9 April 1667
MM/23/2Letter from James Tisdall, Dublin, to Sir Robert Southwell, at the Council Office, Whitehall15 March 1680 [1681]
MS/390/48Bond of Sir Robert Southwell to the Treasurer of the Royal Society30 November 1674
EL/S1/21Robert Southwell, dated at Lisbon, to Henry Oldenburg16 March 1669
CLP/4i/39Paper, 'An account of a hurricane in which the polarity of the needle was changed', communicated by Sir Isaac Newton1683
MOB/017English oak wainscot chair1691
RBO/7/120'An Account of Mr Gordons Voyage in his Majesties Ship to the Levant' communicated by Robert Southwell1696
DM/5/101A list of benefactors to the Museum, to the value of £5 or upwards at one time c.1737
RBO/7/77'An Account of a Monstrous Calf with two Heads' by Robert Southwellnd
EL/S1/19Robert Southwell, dated at Lisbon, to Colonel Dempsey10 December 1667
EL/S1/13Robert Southwell, dated at Dublin, to Henry Oldenburg17 June 1663
IM/004325Southwell, Sir Robertnd
CLP/3ii/1Paper, 'The method the Indians in Virginia and Carolina use to dress buck and doe skins' communicated by Robert Southwell1691
CLP/9i/36Paper, 'Pen Parke Hole' by unknown author[1682]
CLP/9i/36/1Paper, 'Pen Parke Hole' by unknown author[1682]
CLP/9i/36/2Plate, 'The profile and ground plott of a concave in Pen-Park near Bristol in Gloucestershire' by unknown artist[1682]
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