Commodore's Secretary James Southey entered the Royal Navy as an Acting Paymaster in May 1842 and, passing for Clerk, joined the Frigate Fox as 'Secretary to Commodore 2nd Class' in 1850. Later rising to 'Paymaster and Secretary to Commander-in-Chief and Commodore 1st Class', the latter being the C.-in-C. East Indies and China Station, Commodore G.R. Lambert, R.N. Accordingly Southey was present throughout Commodore Lambert's attempts to reason with the Burmese King in January 1852 and participated in the evacuation of the British merchants and their families and the confiscation of the Burmese Royal Barge. He also further penned for his chief the following letter of 'notification' heralding the outbreak of hostilities:
'In virtue of authority from the most noble the Governor-General of British India, I do hereby declare the rivers of Rangoon, the Bassein and the Salween above Moulmein, to be in a state of blockade; and with the view to the strict enforcement thereof, a competent force will be stationed in or near the entrance of the said rivers immediately. Neutral vessels lying in either of the blockaded rivers will be permitted to retire within twenty days from the commencement of the blockade' (Given under my hand, on board Her Britannic Majesty's Frigate Fox, off the town of Rangoon, the 6th of January 1852. (Signed) George Robert Lambert, Commodore in Her Britannic Majesty's Navy. By Command of the Commodore. (Signed) James Lewther Southey, Secretary').
Returning to Rangoon in April, Southey was present during the bombardment of the Shore Batteries which had hastened the Fox's departure from Burmese waters two months earlier. On 17.5.1852, he accompanied Lambert's broad pennant on board the H.E.I. Co.'s Steam Sloop Tenasserim to witness the bombardment and capture of the Bassein, and similarly was present with the crew of Fox's Gig, and the Commodore himself, aboard the Bengal Marine's eight-gun vessel Fire Queen at the occupation of Prome on 9 and 10 October.
Southey subsequently served as Paymaster in a succession of warships until retirement from the Crocodile in August 1879 at the age of 59 years.