SOTHERTON, George (d.1599), of St. Martin Outwich, London.
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Family and Education
Warden, Merchant Taylors’ Co. 1578, 1581, master 1589, auditor of London 1582-4, 1588-90, 1591-3, 1595-7; common councilman, active 1583-99; dep. gov. Merchant Adventurers 1594.
?J.p. Essex 1591.
After serving his apprenticeship, Sotherton was admitted a freeman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company of London on 24 Oct. 1561, being followed some years later by his cousin Nowell Sotherton, and later still by George Sotherton junior, his son. Between them, and with the assistance of John Sotherton, Nowell’s elder and influential brother at the Exchequer, the Sothertons played a prominent part in the Company’s affairs for 50 years. George Sotherton senior prospered quickly. In 1568, while he was still a relatively junior liveryman, the Company honoured him by placing him at the high table at the banquet to the new lord mayor. Two years later, in 1570, he became a freeman of Norwich as a grocer, being then described as of London and son of Nicholas, but though the Sothertons were among the most substantial families in Norwich, related by marriage to other leading citizens, such as Thomas and Christopher Layer, it was in London that George, like several more of his family, made a home and career. His house, belonging to the Merchant Taylors, adjoined the new common hall into which, as a special privilege, he was allowed to make a door so that he and his wife might walk in the long gallery. From the Company he had also a garden and tenement in Moorfields, later leased to John Speed, and to the Company when he died went his great silver gilt standing cup and cover.2
In 1577 Sotherton was one of 24 admitted to the newly formed corporation of Spanish merchants; in 1581 he was among those called upon by the Privy Council to investigate the misappropriation of a merchant’s goods, and in 1582 he began the formal association with the corporation which led to his two terms as an MP for London. A list, probably drawn up after 1582, names him among ‘the wisest and best merchants in London to deal in the weightiest causes of the city as occasion is offered’—and there is ample evidence that he was so employed.3
Only one reference to a ‘Mr. Sotherton’ in D’Ewes’s record of the Commons’ business in 1597-8 (concerned with the sale of a debtor’s land and goods, 20 Jan. 1598) can reasonably be ascribed to George Sotherton, but it was customary to refer to the London Members as such, rather than by name. Thus Sotherton could have served on committees to consider maimed soldiers and sailors (2 Apr. 1593), brewers (3 Apr.), town planning (6 Apr.), regrators (7 Nov. 1597), penal laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.), Langport Eastover (10 Nov.), navigation (12 Nov.), cloth (18 Nov.), wool (8 Dec.), seamen (9 Dec.), Exeter merchants (12 Dec.), merchant strangers (13 Jan. 1598), bread (13 Jan.), charitable uses (14 Jan.), mariners and soldiers (26 Jan.), wine casks (3 Feb.) and Lady Wentworth’s jointure (7 Feb.). Apart from occasional service on commissions appointed by the Privy Council to consider cases of merchants in distress or at variance with authority, Sotherton’s life was divided between the city, the Merchant Adventurers, and the Merchant Taylors. He is said to have died 24 May 1599. Administration of his goods was granted to his son and widow 25 Aug. 1599.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Misc. Gen. et. Her. (ser. 5), ix. 129-31; PCC admon. act bk. 1599, f. 22; PCC 48 Fenner, 56 Meade.
- 2. A. B. Beaven, Aldermen, i. 290; C. M. Clode, Early Hist. Merchant Taylors, i. 238, 263, 281; ii. 334, 342, 343, and Mems. 31, 93, 117; P. Millican, Norwich Freemen, 127.
- 3. Lansd. 683 (printed N. and Q. (ser. 5), vii. 23); APC, ix. 330; xiii. 32; xv. 270; xix. 349; xxiii. 248; xxvi. 19; xxvii. 29; xxix. 421-2; Lansd. 76, f. 83; 110, f. 188; 143, f. 96; HMC Hatfield, v. 359; viii. 553.
- 4. D’Ewes, 513, 514, 519, 552, 553, 555, 556, 558, 570, 571, 579, 580, 583, 588, 592; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 103, 125; PCC admon. act bk. loc. cit.