SOUTHCOTE, Thomas (by 1528-1600), of Shillingford George and Bovey Tracey, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. by 1528, 1st s. of John Southcote I of Bovey Tracey by 1st w. Joanna, da. of one Hankford; bro. of George. m. (1) settlement May 1541, Grace (d.1547) da. and h. of John Barnhouse of Devon, 1s. 2da.; (2) Susan, da. of Thomas Kirkham of Blagdon in Paignton, 4s. 6da.; (3) Elizabeth, da. of George Fitzwilliam of Mablethorpe, Lincs., 8s. inc. George† and Richard† 4da. suc. fa. 14 Sept. 1556.1
Sheriff, Devon 1558-9, 1570-1; jt. surveyor, Exchequer, Devon and Exeter 16 Oct. 1560-2 June 1598; j.p.q. Devon 1561-d.2
Thomas Southcote is likely to have owed his return for Tavistock in 1555 to the influence of his family, either on its own account or on behalf of Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, during his absence abroad. Southcote may already have been the earl’s tenant for the mansion house of Cowick which had belonged to Tavistock abbey. Although in 1564 he was to be one of six gentlemen consulted by the bishop of Exeter on the religious sympathies of their neighbours, he was not among those Members of the Parliament of 1555 who followed Sir Anthony Kingston’s lead in opposing one of the government’s bills. By 1558, when his younger brother George sat for Tavistock, Southcote was head of the family and may not have needed Bedford’s support to secure the senior seat for Plympton Erle. He was friendly with the locally important family of Strode, and he and his brother were joined in the House by his brothers-in-law George Kirkham and Walter Staplehill: he was also related to the sheriff, (Sir) Robert Denys. Nothing is known of Southcote’s role in this House, but he and his colleague Christopher Perne are among the 17 Members whose names are missing from a copy of the Crown Office list. Two of his sons were to sit for Plympton Erle before his death on 10 Aug. 1600.3