SOUTHWELL, Edward (1705-55), of King's Weston, nr. Bristol, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. 16 June 1705, 1st s. of Rt. Hon. Edward Southwell, M.P., of Dublin and King’s Weston by his 1st w. Lady Elizabeth Cromwell, da. and h. of Vere Essex, 4th Earl of Ardglass [I]. educ. Westminster 1715-16; Queen’s, Oxf. 1721; travelled abroad 1723. m. 21 Aug. 1729 (with £10,000), Catherine, da. of Edward Watson, Visct. Sondes, sis. and h. of Thomas Watson, 3rd Earl of Rockingham, 2s. 1da. suc. fa. 1730.
M.P. [I] 1727-55.
Jt. clerk of the Crown and prothonotary of King’s bench [I] (with his father) 1715-17; jt. sec. of the Council [I] (with his father) 1720-30, sole sec. 1730-d.
Edward Southwell, described by his cousin, the 1st Lord Egmont, as ‘a very sober virtuous man’, belonged to an Anglo-Irish family, who held high official positions under successive sovereigns.1 Returned, presumably as a Whig, for the neighbouring town of Bristol in 1739, he spoke and voted with the Opposition on the place bill in 1740, but against the motion for Walpole’s removal in 1741. He also sponsored a bill for prohibiting the insurance of enemy ships and goods and opposed a bill for strengthening the power to press seamen. In the next Parliament he continued to act with the Opposition till 1744 when, ‘though very seldom vot[ing] with the Court’, he spoke against motions for inquiries into the Hanoverians and the state of the naval forces.2 He spoke in favour of a proposal for replacing the land tax by doubling the tax on places and pensions in December 1744 and voted for the Hanoverians in 1746, when he was classed by the Government as ‘opposition Whig’.
At the opening of the Parliament of 1747 Southwell was put down as Opposition, but in January 1749 he voted with the Administration in the committee of supply.3 About this time his kinsman, the 2nd Lord Egmont, wrote in his electoral survey:
Southwell is a weak man. Has an affectation of being supposed to act according to his conscience, which directs him to vote one day for a proposition in a committee, and the very reverse the next day and in the House. They think him an honest man at Bristol but they have no opinion of his understanding and I believe if occasion were, he might be easily changed—But if not he will be as often for us as against us!
Southwell’s last recorded speech was made on the regency bill, May 1751, in favour of continuing the sitting Parliament until the end of the young King’s minority.4 He did not stand in 1754, dying 16 Mar. 1755.