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Southcomb family papers

Call Number: OSB MSS 156

Scope and Contents

The Southcomb Family Papers document some aspects of the clerical careers of several generations of members of the Southcomb family who successively held the rectorship of Rose Ash in Devon. Contents include three devotional commonplace books of Lewis Southcomb; 279 sermons, mostly dating from the first half of the nineteenth century, by four different family members; and the diaries of John Ladaveze Hamilton Southcomb. The materials assembled here span almost 200 years of the family's 273 years in Rose Ash, but the bulk of the papers are the 279 manuscript sermons for worship services, funerals, farewells, charities, and other special occasions ("for the Princess Charlotte Saxe-Coburg buried November 1817"; "for the distressed Irish," June 26, 1831) written by John Southcomb (1758-1822), John Southcomb (1789-1840), Edmund Southcomb (1792-1854), John Ladaveze Hamilton Southcomb (1817-1886) and several as yet unidentified writers. The remainder of the collection consists of eight diaries by John Ladaveze Hamilton Southcomb.


  • 1696 - 1877
  • Majority of material found within 1818 - 1852


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Southcomb Family Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Sotheby's on the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Fund, 1979.


Organized into three series: I. Commonplace Books of Lewis Southcomb, 1696-1731; II. Sermons, 1788-1872; III. Diaries of John Ladaveze Hamilton Southcomb, 1835-1877.

Associated Materials

Printed works that were acquired with the Southcomb Family Papers were removed and cataloged separately. They are listed in the Appendix to this finding aid. Full catalog records for these items may be found in ORBIS, the Yale University Library catalog.


2.71 Linear Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Southcomb Family Papers document some aspects of the clerical careers of several generations of members of the Southcomb family, which held the rectorship of Rose Ash in Devon for over 200 years. Included are devotional commonplace books of Lewis Southcomb; 279 sermons, mostly dating from the first half of the nineteenth century, by four different family members; and the diaries of John Ladeveze Hamilton Southcomb.

Southcomb Family of Rose Ash

Members of the Southcomb family served as rectors of the parish of Rose Ash in Devon almost uninterruptedly from 1675 until 1948. Only those represented in the Southcomb Family Papers are described here.

Lewis Southcomb (1655-1733), the first Southcomb to hold Rose Ash, refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to William and Mary in 1688, despite offers of preferment, and was deprived of the rectorship as a Nonjuror, but was restored after the death of James II in 1701. He was a noted preacher, and at least two of his sermons were printed in London during his lifetime.

John Southcomb (1758-1822), received his B.A. from Exeter College, Oxford in 1780 and married Susannah Granger in the same year. He succeeded his father John as rector of Rose Ash in 1788, also serving as patron of King's Nympton, and died in 1822.

John Southcomb (1784-1840), was the eldest son of John Southcomb and Susannah Granger. He received his B.A. in 1813 from Exeter College, Oxford and married Sarah Hamilton, the daughter of the Rev. William Hamilton of Donegal in 1817. Never rector of Rose Ash, to which his younger brother Edmund Hamilton (1792-1854) was preferred in 1822, John served as curate of Minehead and of St. Wenn in Cornwall until his death in 1840. John's son, John Ladaveze Hamilton Southcomb (1817-1886), received his B.A. from All Souls' College, Oxford in 1840 and succeeded to the rectorship of Rose Ash on the death of his childless uncle Edmund in 1854.

Appendix: List of Printed Works

Also among the Southcomb Papers were the following printed works:

-- 8 copies of J.L.H. Southcomb's Sermon "Liturgical Changes. Are they needful? Are they desirable?" preached 7 Jun 1860 at South Molton

-- 1 copy of "The Cathedral" A Sermon preached in the Cathedral Church of S. Peter Exeter on Sunday 7th January 1872 by Frederick Bishop of the Diocese

-- 3 printed almanacs: 1702 (in Welsh), 1744 and 1747

The five following published works, also part of the Southcomb Family Papers, are catalogued separately in the main card catalogue under the author's name:

-- Southcomb, Lewis (I), 1653-1733 "A Sermon Preached at the Funeral of the Reverend Mr. John Culme, Vicar of Ionaustone and Mollard, in Devon. December 2, 1691" London: 1692
19.5 cm x 15.5 cm, 32 p.

-- Southcomb, Lewis (II), 1684-1754
"The Great Christian Rule of Charity and Justice: Briefly considered in a Sermon."
Oxon: 1714
18 x 10.5 cm, 18 p.

-- Southcomb, Lewis (II), 1684-1754
"A Treatise Against the Converting of Tithes and Offerings to Secular uses."
Oxon: 1726
18 x 12 cm, 100 p.

-- Southcomb, Lewis (II), 1684-1754
"Subjection to the Higher Powers. A Necessary Duty in Every Christian. A Sermon"
London: 1735
19.5 x 12.5 cm, 31 p.

-- Southcomb, Lewis (II), 1684-1754
"The Christians Peculiar Character: Or Universal Love. The Truest Mark of a Christian"
Sherbourne: 1752
20 x 16 cm, 24 p.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in the 1980s by a curatorial assistant to the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection; the finding aid was revised in June 2010.

Guide to the Southcomb Family Papers
by Hugh Kennedy and Beinecke staff
June 1987
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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