Sir George HOWARD, Knight

Born: BEF 1519, Lambeth, Norfolk, England

Died: 1580

Father: Edmund HOWARD (Sir)

Mother: Joyce CULPEPER

The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

Third son of Lord Edmund Howard by first wife, Joyce, dau. and coh. of Sir Richard Culpepper of Kent. Kntd. Sep 1547.

Equerry of the stable to Henry VIII, warden or master of the henchmen 1550-Oct. 1553; master of the armoury 1560-d.; j.p. Kent 1562; steward, crown lands at Blackheath 1571-d., Deptford, Greenwich etc. 1572; gent. usher, privy chamber by 1579.

Lord Edmund Howard, third son of Thomas, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, was a spendthrift who soon dissipated his wifes lands in Kent and Hampshire and fled abroad to avoid his creditors, leaving his numerous children to be brought up by relatives. Like his sister the future Queen Catherine, George Howard may therefore have spent his early years in the Norfolk household. With Cromwells help his father was appointed comptroller of Calais in 1530, but was still overwhelmed with debts when he died in 1539. Catherines marriage in the following year augured well for her brothers fortunes: in Oct 1540 he received a pension of 100 marks in tail male, in the following May he was granted the manors of Berwick, Hulcott, North Newnton, Wiltshire and Wylye, and in Jun he and his brother Charles had a licence to import 1,000 tuns of Gascon wine and Toulouse woad. Within a few months, however, this spell of prosperity was cut short by the Queens disgrace and execution.

The onset of war gave Howard an opportunity to prove himself. He probably campaigned in France in 1544, was a captain at Boulogne in 1546, and in the following Sep bore the standard at Pinkie, a service for which he was knighted by the Duke of Somerset at Roxburgh. He went north again in Jun 1548, receiving 50 in fees, and in Jul he signed a letter to Somerset about the campaign. He adapted himself without difficulty to the regime of Northumberland, by whom he was sent as a member of the Garter embassy to Henri II of France in May 1551. He wrote a masque, The Triumph of Cupid, produced by George Ferrers as a Christmas entertainment for Edward VIs court, and it was perhaps in this connexion that in Jan 1553 he received a grant of houses in London worth 41 a year.

Meanwhile he had begun his parliamentary career as a Member for Devizes in the first Parliament of the reign. The borough was one with which he had links of varying kinds and significance. As part of the jointure of queens consort it had been held briefly by his sister and afterwards by Catherine Parr: both queens were served as vice-chamberlain, until his death in 1544, by Howards kinsman Sir Edward Baynton, but by the autumn of 1547 the lordship had been granted to Catherine Parrs fourth husband, Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and the constableship of the castle was held by William Herbert, afterwards 1st Earl of Pembroke, to whom, apparently at Henry VIIIs request, Howard had sold his Wiltshire manors early in 1547 for 800. Howards brother-in-law Sir Thomas Arundell was both chancellor to Catherine Parr and a friend of Herberts, while the lustre of Pinkie would have assured Howard of the support of the Protector Somerset and perhaps, through him, of his brother Baron Seymour. There is more than enough here to account for the nomination, but by contrast nothing can be said of Howards role in the ensuing Parliament.

His (apparent) absence from its successor of Mar 1553 argues against Howards having been a trusted follower of the Duke of Northumberland and although on the death of Edward VI he at first joined the dukes force to take Mary prisoner we have it on the not altogether reliable evidence of an Italian in London that he quitted Northumberlands camp after a quarrel with the dukes son, the Earl of Warwick, and joined Mary with 50 horses. On 23 Jul Mary put him on trial by suspending him from his office as warden or master of the henchmen, upon proof to be made of his good service hereafter, with further order that he shall not come within three miles of the court. He passed the test, and in Jan 1554 was given an annuity of 200 for services to Henry VIII and Edward VI and because of the Queens good opinion of him. He was sent with his uncle Norfolk into Kent against Wyatt and was a chief mourner at the dukes funeral nine months later.

In Jun 1554 he had been appointed a carver with Thomas Windsor in the household of Felipe of Spain, although the appointment lapsed when the prince arrived in Jul with a Spanish household and dismissed the English nominees. Despatched to the Emperor in the following May on a mission of condolence on the Queen of Spains death, he was back in England by the autumn and in time to make a reappearance in the Commons. This time he used his Kentish affiliations, and perhaps in particular the support of his friend and distant kinsman Sir Thomas Cheney to obtain one of the seats at Rochester. Surprisingly, in view of his attachment at court, Howard was one of the many Members who in this Parliament opposed a government bill; he did so in company with his fellow-Member William Brooke. His dereliction did not prevent him from being returned again in 1558; on this occasion he sat for Winchelsea and was certainly named by Cheney, to whom, as lord warden of the Cinque Ports, the town had granted both nominations.

As a leading spokesman for the bill to penalize the crowns opponents who had gone abroad Edward Hastings nearly came to blows in the Chamber with Sir George Howard late in 1555.

With the accession of his cousin Elizabeth, Howard regained any favour he may have lost at court. He participated in the coronation jousts of 17 Jan 1559. Master of the Armoury 1561 - 1575.

He settled in Kent, where in 1564 Archbishop Parker listed him as a justice favourable to sound religion.

About 1566 Anne Reade, widow of Sir Thomas Parry, assigned to Henry Manning, gentleman, the office of Keeper of the Royal Park at Greenwich, in Kent. She held this benefit for the term of the life of Sir Henry Fermingham. For this rent he was to have the fees, commodities, herbage, use and other benefits of the park as long as he so continued. Henry made his payments as agreed until the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel in 1570. About 12 days before this feast day Fermingham died, ending the patronage apparently originally granted to him. She quickly sought to have the office regranted to herself, but failed in the quest. The office was then granted to Sir George Howard, who must have agreed to continue the lease with Henry Manning, for he thereafter made his payments fo Howard.

Sir George died in 1580. It is not known whether he ever married. The suggestion that by 1537 he was married to Margaret, daughter of Sir John Mundy, is incompatible with the known facts of her life and of her marriage to Henry Mannock.


Hyde, Patricia: HOWARD, Sir George (by 1519-80), of London and Kidbrooke, Kent.

to Bios Page to Family Page
to Peerage Page to Home Page