Edward Southwell (1671–1730), born in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, on 4 Sept. 1671, after being carefully educated at home under the personal supervision of his father, assisted by the advice of Sir W. Petty (see Fitzmaurice, Life of Petty, p. 305: ‘I say cram into him some Lattin, some mathematicks, some drawing, and some law … and then let Nature work’), entered Merton College, Oxford as a gentleman commoner under the tuition of Dr. Thomas Lane. He subsequently spent some time in travelling, and being, says Anthony à Wood, accounted ‘doctissimus juvenis,’ he was on 1 April 1693 sworn an extraordinary clerk to the privy council, while from 15 Aug. 1695 he was joined with James Waller and Henry Petty in the office of chief prothonotary of the common pleas in Ireland. In 1696 he paid a visit to Holland, partly for business, partly for pleasure, of which he has left an interesting account (Addit. MS. 21495). He was admitted a full clerk to the council on 13 May 1699, and on 30 July of the same year succeeded his father as vice-admiral of Munster and as secretary of state for Ireland on 27 June 1702 (Luttrell, Relation, v. 188). On the death of Lord Tankerville in 1701 he was appointed a joint commissioner of the privy seal, and in 1707 was returned M.P. for Rye. After the union with Scotland he was on 10 May 1708 constituted clerk to the privy council of Great Britain. He was unseated on petition for Rye in 1711, but apparently found a seat as member for the borough of Tregony. Under date 29 Dec. that year, Swift notes in his ‘Journal to Stella’ that there was a prospect of ‘Mr. Secretary’—meaning seemingly Southwell—being raised to the peerage, but that his services were required in the lower house. He was returned M.P. for the borough of Tregony in April 1713, and for Preston in the following November; being member for Kinsale in the Irish parliament till his death. He was continued in all his offices by George I, and on 9 Oct. 1714 was sworn of the privy council in Ireland. On 7 Nov. 1715 he succeeded to the offices of clerk to the crown and prothonotary of the king's bench, of which he had secured the reversion for himself and his son in September 1698, and on 26 April he was again made joint commissioner of the privy seal in consequence of the death of Lord Wharton. He received an augmentation to his salary as secretary of state of 300l. a year on 13 June 1720, and on 20 July following obtained a grant of that office for life to him and his son Edward. On the accession of George II he was confirmed in all his offices, but died three years later, on 4 Dec. 1730, having accumulated considerable wealth and added to his property in Ireland by the acquisition of certain lands in co. Down, where either he or his son Edward founded an important charity for the poor children on his estate (Harris, Antient and Present State of the County of Down, pp. 31, 33, 38). He was buried at King's Weston.
Southwell married first, in October 1703, the Lady Elizabeth Cromwell, ‘an heiress of 2,000l. a year’ (Luttrell, v. 346), the daughter of Vere-Essex, earl of Ardglass in Ireland and baron of Okeham in England, and by her, who died in childbed on 31 March 1709 (ib. v. 425) and was buried at Henbury, he had three sons, viz. Edward, his heir; Robert and Thomas, who both died young. Edward Southwell married, secondly, in August 1717, Anne, daughter of William Blathwaite, esq., of Derham, Gloucestershire, by whom he had one son William. His portrait, painted by Kneller in 1708, was engraved by J. Smith in 1709 (Bromley, p. 269).