SOUTH, Robert (by 1494-1540), of Salisbury, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1494, ?2nd s. of Robert South of Salisbury by w. Alice. m. by 1512, Beatrice, 3s. 2da.3

Offices Held

Collector in Market ward, Salisbury 1515, assessor 1522, member of the Forty-Eight by 1522, of the Twenty-Four 1528, mayor 1528, auditor 1528, 1533, 1535-6; commr. for vagabonds 1532, gaol delivery 1540; j.p. 1540.4


Robert South and his elder brother William of West Amesbury, Wiltshire, are the first of their family to be included in the heralds’ visitation. They may have been the sons of Robert South, who figures in the accounts of the churchwardens of St. Edmund’s, Salisbury, from 1468 until 1510-11 and who crowned an active civic career by becoming mayor in 1506. The elder Robert either inherited or acquired the status of gentleman, for he was so described in 1499-1500 when the great bell of St. Edmund’s church was tolled for his wife Alice; his son William was given this style when assessed for subsidy at West Amesbury in 1545, and the younger Robert is called gentleman in his will. Both brothers held property in Salisbury in 1525, when William was assessed for subsidy on goods worth £50 and Robert on goods worth £80.5

South’s Membership of two Parliaments was the natural culmination of his civic career but he probably owed his first election in 1536, when the King had asked for the return of the previous Members, to the poor health of one of them, Thomas Chaffyn I. Between then and his second return in 1539 South was active in the city’s opposition to its reforming bishop, Nicholas Shaxton. John Madowell, the bishop’s chaplain, writing in the spring of 1537 to complain of the city’s papist sympathies, mentioned that ‘Mr. South’ had criticized the royal proclamation relaxing the Lenten fast. In October 1537 South was paid 42s.6d. for journeying to London on the city’s business, and in the following January he was one of the four men appointed to present its case against Shaxton to the Privy Council. The dispute sprang from the citizens’ desire to assert their independence no less than from their conservatism, so that it is hard to assess the motives of those who took part. South helped Chaffyn and others to investigate rumours of a pilgrimage at Salisbury in August 1538.6

South made his will on 29 Apr. 1540, during the third and last session of the Parliament to which he had been elected on 31 Mar. 1539. He asked to be buried in the hospital of the Savoy, ‘if it shall please God to call me to his mercy in the present sickness that I am now in’. His lease of Winterbourne Earls, and that of the parsonage of Pitton and Farley held of the treasurers of Salisbury cathedral, he bequeathed to his eldest son Thomas; to the younger, Robert, he left property at Stratford-sub-Castle, held of the cathedral’s succentor and known as Subchanter’s Farm, and a lease of the gaol at Fisherton Anger, held of Sir John Hampden. Both these sons, who were appointed executors, appear to have been of age by 1533-34, since the younger was to claim in the Star Chamber that they had then acquired a tenement at West Harnham. The widow received £100 and goods from the dwelling house in Salisbury, with leases in the hundred of Downton and at Fisherton Anger, and a share in her husband’s plate. A daughter Sybil, who later married Thomas Chaffyn II, was to have £100 and her sister Joan 100 marks. South presumably died in London, as the will was proved on 11 May 1540; there is no record that a by-election was held during the ten weeks which elapsed before the dissolution of the Parliament.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Salisbury corp. ledger B, f. 281.
  • 2. Ibid. f. 289; E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2]; Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Ledger B, f. 233v; Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 187; Churchwardens’ Accts. of St. Edmund and St. Thomas, Sarum (Wilts. Rec. Soc. 1896), 51; St.Ch.2/32/35; PCC 5 Alenger.
  • 4. Ledger B, ff. 233v, 249v, 263, 264, 271v, 276, 280, 282; LP Hen. VIII, v, xv.
  • 5. Churchwardens’ Accts. of St. Edmund and St. Thomas, Sarum, 10, 12, 26, 28, 37, 39, 51, 56; Ledger B, ff. 107, 215v; Two Taxation Lists (Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. x), 1; E179/197/154.
  • 6. Ledger B, ff. 281, 285, 286; LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiii; Elton, Policy and Police, 101.
  • 7. PCC 5 Alenger; VCH Wilts. vi. 182, 202.