The earliest information currently known about the Southwood family of direct descent to the Loxton branch shows that they are from North Curry, Somerset, about six miles east of the county town of Taunton, where Francis Southwood, 1725-1780, and Elizabeth had five children. The descendants of Francis Southwood are displayed on the family tree. The descendants of their grandson John Keats Southwood, 1825-1911, (see his family tree), stayed in the area around North Curry for at least three generations. Another grandson, William 1789-1868 was born a short distance away in Stoke St. Gregory. His occupation was not known but since Stoke St. Gregory was and still is a willow growing area, he may have worked in the willow beds. He moved to Hutton not far from Loxton in about 1820.
His youngest son William, 1824-1906, his wife Mary Jane and their family came to Loxton from Hutton in about 1854. His descendants are displayed on the family tree. William Southwood was a woodman and the family lived in a lonely cottage, adjacent to Loxton Wood. The cottage was near a bridleway that is now known as the West Mendip Way and was probably originally a miner’s cottage. All that is left now is a small part of the wall below the ground floor level, many scattered stones and a few daffodils that still bloom in the spring. Whilst exceedingly remote and exposed to the elements, the cottage was situated in an idyllic spot and the views from its windows and garden would have been spectacular. The photo taken from the garden does not do justice to the view, which is a splendid panorama.
Except for a brief spell around 1891, when the Lord of the Manor Erasmus Galton occupied it, the cottage was in the occupancy of members of the Southwood family until June 1952 when Emily Southwood died there. Emily had lived there with her younger sister Mary Jane, for whom she had cared for, for many years. In 1949, when Emily had been ill for some weeks, the rector Canon Christelow wrote a sympathetic message in the parish magazine ‘The Messenger’ about
…her daily toil up the hill to a lonely spot
A reference to her daily journey of about three quarters of a mile each way to the village pumps for water, which a family member recently confirmed and described how Emily fetched drinking water from the pumps, whilst rainwater was collected in water butts from the roof of the cottage for washing etc. Another former inhabitant of the village, recently described to us, how as a young child, he had been paid sixpence a time by the postman to take post to the cottage from the village.
One of her other sisters, Bertha died 6 months later in the nearby village of Winscombe, where she had been in service.
William’s son, George Southwood 1851-1935, (see his family tree), was a woodman like his father, a poorly paid job. Together with his brother Joseph 1857-1934, (see his family tree), who was an agricultural labourer, and about eighteen other parishioners, they all received an annual payment from the Loxton charity money. Later on, George had been promoted to headman at Loxton Estate and Erasmus Galton, Lord of the Manor left him £200 in his will.
There were four other brothers, Harry 1863-1939, (see his family tree), who moved to neighbouring Christon, and the youngest son William Edward 1865-1944, (see his family tree), who farmed at Upper Hale Farm, Winscombe. The two other brothers Francis 1847-1923 and John 1854-1937 (see his family tree), moved to Wales. John married a Welsh girl, Mary and they had three children. In about 1880 John and Mary went to Tasmania, Australia where they had eight more children. The photograph (below left) shows John Southwood with two of his daughters, Elizabeth and Sara(Sarah) in Tasmania. The photograph (below right) is at the marriage of John Southwood’s son Francis to Amelia Brazendale in 1911. Both photographs were kindly supplied by Michelle Palmer of Hobart, Australia.
The only daughter of William, Annie Elizabeth 1859-1924, married Charles Stark from Webbington, Compton Bishop, a postman and they had five children. Their wedding in Loxton Church in 1883 was a special occasion as they shared a double wedding with Annie’s brother Joseph, who married Selina Fisher. The newspaper clipping kept in the photo album (referred to below) illustrated its special significance to the family. Annie and Charles lived at Pump Cottages, (now known as Mendip Edge), where they had a small shop selling sweets and tobacco.
Two of the grandchildren of Harry Southwood 1863-1939, Kenneth Herbert and Charles Southwood were both killed in World War Two.
George and Eva Southwood had eight children (see family tree), their son William Robert 1882-1945 became a chauffeur and William Robert’s son Horace was the proprietor of Southwood’s Garage at Loxton. Horace and Gwendoline had four children but sadly Marion Elsie, the eldest daughter died in 1939 of meningitis at the age of six.