Concerning the Southalls of Virginia, Page 333

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Southall Documents, Manuscripts, Reports, etc.


By James P. C. Southall, New York, N. Y.

Items in [Brackets] are my notes.

Items in {Curly Brackets} are items that either could not be read or I was not sure about the transcription.

[Page 333]

1. Introduction -- The English origin of the Southalls who have been
more or less prominent in Virginia from Revolutionary times has never
been ascertained. The name Southall, with many variations of spelling,
as Southwell, Southell, Southal, Sowthalle, etc., is to be found frequently
in various parish registers of Shropshire (also of Worcestershire)
as far back as about 1600. Occasionally we come across an individual
who attained a little local prominence and perhaps was rector of
the parish, but generally speaking while the English Southalls were
fairly numerous they were almost uniformly inconspicuous. The name
is nowhere to be found in all the annals of England. It is often confused,
however, with the name Southwell which has been illustrious
ever since the time of King Henry VIII or even as far back as the 13th
century when Sir Simon de Suelle and Sir John de Suthwell were notable
men of that day. The family of Southwell derived its name from the
town of Suelle, Sewel, Suthwell, Southwell (as it is variously written)
which is a market-town and parish in Nottinghamshire.* Even in colonial
Virginia the names Southall and Southwell were sometimes confused.
For example, Colonel William Byrd's widow bequeathed to her son a
portrait of "Sir Robert Southall" painted by Kneller which hung for a
long time in the gallery at Brandon on James river (Va.M.H.&B., V1, 350).
Nevertheless, there is not the slightest evidence to show that the
Southalls of Virginia were related to the great English family of Southwell.
While Sir Robert Southwell (1635-1702), whose portrait was at
Brandon, was the intimate friend and adviser of Colonel William Byrd
of Westover and undoubtedly took an active interest in the affairs of
colonial Virginia (as shown by his correspondence with Governor Sir
William Berkeley), and while also his son Edward Southwell, Esq.
(d. 1730), was one of the English lords proprietors of the colony of
Albemarle in North Carolina, it is a rather singular fact that apparently
there is no extant record of the actual presence on the soil of colonial

* Two of the most prominent noblemen in England in the reign of King
Henry VIII (1509-1547) and until near the end of the reign of Queen
Mary (1553-1558) were Sir Richard Southwell, of Woodrising, co. Norfolk,
and his younger brother Sir Robert Southwell (d. 1558). The renowned
scholar-poet and Jesuit priest Robert Southwell (circa 1561-1593)
who was thrown into prison in 1592 died on the scaffold. A priest named
John Southwell is an incidental character in Shakespeare's play of King
Henry VI, Part II.

Source:  Transcribed from images of photocopies, 13 Mar 2002, Susan Shields Sasek.  I received this copy from June Southall many years ago, but didn't have the reference. Carol Southall Atkinson has provided me with a reference for this work, but it has different page numbers than were on my copies: Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XLVI, No. 2 (April, 1938), pages 166 through 170. Since my copies of "Concerning the Southalls of Virginia," and "Addendum Concerning the Southalls of Virginia" have consecutive page numbers, I'm assuming my copies are from a reprint of the 1937 and 1938 articles that Carol gave the references to. Thanks to Kathi (my daughter) for scanning these images for me.

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