SOUTHCOTE, Thomas (c.1622-64), of Buckland Tout Saints, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1622, 1st s. of George Southcote of Buckland Tout Saints by w. Frances. educ. Balliol, Oxf. matric. 2 Nov. 1638, aged 16; L. Inn 1640. m. settlement 15 Jan. 1650, Alice, da. and h. of Abraham Petre of Marldon, Devon, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. c.1654.2
Commr. for assessment, Devon 1657, Aug. 1660-d., j.p. 1657-d., dep. lt. 1661-d., commr. for corporations 1662-3.3
Southcote could trace his ancestry in Devon back to the reign of Henry III, but the first of the family to rise above peasant status was a lawyer who became clerk of the peace in 1525. Southcote’s great-grandfather sat for Dartmouth in 1559, having married the heiress of the manor of Southtown; the manor house, adjoining Dartmouth Castle, was destroyed in the Civil War. Southcote’s father was nominated a commissioner of array in 1642, but apparently never acted, and he served as sheriff under the Commonwealth. Southcote’s own political and religious affiliations remain obscure. Probably he owed his appointment to local office under the Protectorate to his bustling little brother-in-law, the father of Richard Duke. When his brother John was imprisoned for his part in the Cavalier plot in Surrey in 1659, Southcote refused his modest request for a loan of £10 to bribe the gaoler to let him escape.4
Returned on his own interest for Dartmouth at the general election of 1661, Southcote was dogged by ill health and family bereavements. He was not an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, being named only to the committee on the corporations bill and two others in the first session. Early in the New Year he was involved, together with another west country Member, John Speccot I, in a fracas with the Westminster watch, who were accused of ‘using them in a reproachful manner, and using ignominio