manuscript copies are often met with, bears the date 22 Oct. 1589 (cf. Stonyhurst MSS. and Addit. MS. Brit. Mus. 34395, f. 36).
In the same year Southwell seems to have become domestic chaplain and confessor to Anne, wife of Philip Howard, first earl of Arundel. The latter had been confined in the Tower of London since 1585, and was convicted of treason in 1589; but his execution was postponed, and he remained in prison till his death in 1596. Southwell took up his residence with the countess at Arundel House in the Strand. During 1591 he occupied most of his time in literary work, by which he hoped to cheer the spirits of his persecuted coreligionists. Although he never forsook verse, his main efforts were for the moment confined to prose. For the consolation, in the first instance, of the imprisoned Earl of Arundel, he composed (in prose) ‘An Epistle of Comfort to the Reverend Priestes, and to the honorable, worshipful, and other of the lay sorte restrayned in durance for the Catholike faith.’ On the death, on 19 Aug. 1591, of the earl's half-sister, Margaret, the first wife of Robert Sackville, second earl of Dorset [q. v.], Southwell addressed to her children his ‘Triumphs over Death.’ A third fervid treatise, ‘Mary Magdalen's Tears,’ he dedicated in the same year to another patroness, Dorothy Arundell, probably the daughter of Sir John Arundell of Trerice (d. 1580), and wife of Edward Cosworth; and when, in the autumn of 1591, a proclamation was issued by the government directing a more rigorous enforcement of the penal laws against the catholics, he drew up an eloquent protest in an ‘Humble Supplication to Queen Elizabeth.’
These four treatises were widely circulated in manuscript, and some of the copies Southwell made with his own pen. According to Gerard, he set up a private press in order to disseminate them the more securely; but no extant edition of any of his works can be assigned to this source (see bibliography below). At least one of these tracts, ‘Mary Magdalen's Funeral Tears,’ he contrived to publish with an established publisher. Gabriel Cawood obtained a license for the publication on 8 Nov. 1591. Manuscript copies, it was explained in the preface, had flown abroad ‘so fast and so false,’ that it was necessary for the author to have recourse ‘to the print’ in order to prevent the circulation of a corrupt text.
Although Southwell's name was not publicly associated with any of his writings, his literary activity was suspected by the government, and rendered inevitable the martyrdom which he confidently anticipated. In 1592 the last act in the short tragedy was reached. Southwell had come to know Richard Bellamy, a staunch catholic, who resided with his family at Uxenden Hall, near Harrow-on-the-Hill. The intimacy was exceptionally perilous. Jerome Bellamy, a near kinsman, had been executed in 1586 for complicity in the conspiracy of Anthony Babington [q. v.], and every member of the household was an object of suspicion (cf. Works, ed. Turnbull). Gerard states that Richard Bellamy supplied Southwell with information from which he compiled a history of the Babington plot. Nothing further is known of a work by Southwell on this subject. It is certain that Southwell, like many other catholic priests, often visited Bellamy at his house at Harrow, celebrated mass there, and gave religious instruction to his sons and daughters. To Anne Bellamy, one of the latter, Southwell, according to her statement at his trial, taught the ‘most wicked and horrible’ doctrine of equivocation. Early in 1592 the government seem to have resolved to place the whole family under arrest as recusants. The daughter Anne was the first captive. By order of Walter Copeland, bishop of London, she was on 26 Jan. 1592 committed to the gatehouse of Westminster. Subsequently she was removed to the gatehouse at Holborn, and remained there till midsummer. There she was examined by Richard Topcliffe [q. v.], the chief officer engaged in enforcing the penal laws against catholics, and under his influence she is reported by Southwell's catholic biographers to have abandoned both her faith and virtue. Topcliffe is said to have seduced her, and then, when her condition was likely to provoke scandal, to have forced her to marry his servant, Nicholas Jones. This marriage undoubtedly took place in July, and her father is stated to have been detained in prison for ten years afterwards because he refused her a marriage portion (Dod, ed. Tierney, iii. App. 197). Whether or no Topcliffe seduced the girl, there is no doubt that either he or his servant first learned from her the fact that Southwell and other priests were visitors at her father's house, as well as the exact manner in which they were secretly lodged there. On this information Topcliffe adroitly arranged, with the aid of his servant, Jones, for the arrest of the next priest who should put in an appearance at Bellamy's house. Southwell, having accidentally met Anne's brother Thomas in London, rode home with him to Uxenden to celebrate mass on 20 June 1592, and fell, an easy victim, into the trap (Morris, Troubles, 2nd ser. pp. 60–2; cf. Middlesex County Records, i. 207, ii. 197–8). Topcliffe's