HOWARD, Charles (c. 1615-79)

HOWARD, Charles (c. 1615–79)

styled Visct. Andover 1626-69; cr. 3 Nov. 1640 Bar. HOWARD of Charlton; suc. fa. 1669 as 2nd earl of BERKSHIRE

First sat before 1660, 19 Nov. 1640; first sat after 1660, 2 July 1660; last sat 23 Nov. 1678

MP Oxford 1640 (Apr., Oct.-Nov.), Oxford Parliament 1644

b. c.1615, 1st s. of Thomas Howard, earl of Berkshire, and Elizabeth, da. and coh. of William Cecil, 2nd earl of Exeter; bro. of Thomas Howard, (later 3rd earl of Berkshire), Sir Robert Howard, and Philip Howard. m. 10 Apr. 1637, Dorothy (d. 6 Dec. 1691), da. of Thomas Savage, Visct. Savage, and Elizabeth suo jure Countess Rivers, s.p.m. KB 1626. d. bef. 16 Apr. 1679; will 5 Sep. 1673–24 Oct. 1678, pr. 4 June 1679.1

Associated with: Charlton, Wilts.

Charles Howard was summoned to Parliament in his father’s barony of Howard of Charlton in 1640; until he succeeded to his father’s earldom he was better known to his contemporaries by his courtesy title of Viscount Andover and so that name will be used here. He was a member of the powerful Howard clan and had many relatives in both Houses. His brother, Philip, who was clearly a Protestant, joined the household of Prince James, duke of York, at the Restoration and was regarded as a court supporter until the early 1680s. Another brother, Sir Robert Howard was also a court supporter apart from a brief but important period of opposition c. 1667–70.

Andover’s summons to the House of Lords so soon after his election to the Commons in 1640 was no doubt meant to bolster royal support there. His royalist credentials were confirmed when, together with eight other peers, he joined the king at York in May 1642. As a result of their flight all nine were impeached and found guilty on 20 July 1642. He compounded for delinquency in 1646 and obtained a pass to go abroad in 1648.2 By 1655 he was in Brussels, where he seems to have become involved in a quarrel with his cousin Henry Howard, later 6th duke of Norfolk.3 Together with his siblings Thomas and Mary Howard, he was actively involved in plots to restore the king.4

At the Restoration Andover undoubtedly expected to reap the rewards of his loyalty. On 4 May 1660, even before he had taken his seat, the House voted to overturn the impeachment of 1642. He took his seat on 4 July and was then present on all but two of the remaining days of the session. That month he was thought to be in favour of the claim of Aubrey de Vere, 20th earl of Oxford to the great chamberlaincy. He was appointed to a wide range of committees; it is difficult to trace any consistent pattern to his nominations, but it is possible that there was a personal (or family) interest in one of them, the committee for the bill for tanning leather, since a patent for a new tanning process was granted to a Charles Howard in October 1661.5 He may also have had a personal interest in the committees for the bill for John Paulet, 5th marquess of Winchester, and to examine Winchester’s patent to be duke of Somerset, since his brother Robert was a close friend of Winchester’s estranged son.

During the 1661–2 session Andover was present on all but three days. He was granted a pension of £1,000 a year in February 1661, and in August was instructed by the king to go into Hampshire and Somerset in search of concealed jewels, plate, and other goods belonging to the crown.6 He was again appointed to a wide variety of committees. That he was an active committee member is suggested by his willingness to report from the committee on the Parsons Green bill on 3 July 1662, even though there is no indication in the committee minute book that he had chaired the committee, and by his activity on 11 July in securing the acceptance of alterations proposed by the Commons to the bill for Richard Sackville, 5th earl of Dorset. He was instrumental in bringing the petition of the distressed royalist Jane Hone to the attention of the House and in transmitting petitions for office to the crown.7

Andover was present on every day of the 1663 session and held the proxy of the Catholic peer Francis Browne, 3rd Viscount Montagu, from 2 Mar. 1663 until it was cancelled on 6 April. He was named to the committee for privileges, and may also have chaired one of its meetings. The pattern of nomination to committees considering a wide range of subjects continued. He occasionally reported from committees, such as that to consider the bill of Richard Byron, 2nd Baron Byron, and three naturalization bills. He also chaired sessions of the committees considering bills for the marquess of Winchester, for Philip Smythe, Viscount Strangford [I], and for subsidies.8 In March he petitioned the crown for compensation in lieu of an abortive embassy to Venice in 1642; he also claimed to be in poor health and ‘almost ruined’ by his services to Charles I. He soon received his reward: the right to nominate two candidates for baronetcies. Given his impeccably royalist background it is interesting to note that even at this early stage there were signs that his allegiances were changing: he nominated two strong Presbyterians, Samuel Barnardiston of Brightwell Hall, Suffolk, and Thomas Barnardiston of Kedington, Suffolk.9 On 18 July 1663 Andover was appointed one of the commissioners to assess the peerage. Wharton thought that he would support the attempt of George Digby, 2nd earl of Bristol, to impeach Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon, but Andover himself seems to have been more concerned with problems caused by the apparent stasis in government affairs created by the crisis.10

Andover was present on every day of the short sessions of spring 1664 and 1664–5. He was again named to a variety of committees, including the sessional committees, chairing several of them.11 In September 1664 he petitioned the crown for payment of his pension, claiming that he was so hard up that he was ‘upon the uttermost confines of starving’. His complaints must have been heard for in May 1665 he was given £500 as the king’s free gift.12

Andover was absent for the whole of the brief session in October 1665. On 19 Oct. he was excused attendance by the House as having been granted leave by the king and having sent a proxy. The proxy was held by John Robartes, 2nd Baron Robartes (later earl of Radnor), for the whole of the session. Andover was again absent at the opening of the 1666–7 session, but attended every sitting day after his arrival on 1 Oct., when his name was added to the committee for privileges. He held the proxy of Robert Brudenell, 2nd earl of Cardigan, from 21 Nov. to 11 Dec. 1666. He was again named to a wide range of select committees. On 12 Oct. he was named to the committee to draw up heads for a conference on the need to prohibit the importation of French commodities, and presumably went on to act as a manager of the subsequent conferences. In January and February 1667 he chaired several sessions of the committee on the bill for James Bertie, 5th Baron Norreys (later earl of Abingdon), which he reported on 8 February.13 On 23 Jan. he entered a dissent at the resolution not to give a right of appeal to the House of Lords in disputes concerning houses burned in the Fire of London. Meanwhile, although his brother Robert was one of the leading managers of the Commons’ campaign against John Mordaunt, Viscount Mordaunt, on 4 Feb. 1667, Andover protested against the resolution to grant the Commons’ request for a conference solely relating to a matter of judicature as ‘a very great derogation to the privileges of this House’.

During the recess, Sir Francis Doddington described Andover to Clarendon as one ‘who is capable of doing good in these times’.14 He was certainly diligent, being present for nearly every day of the long and troubled session of 1667–9. In September 1667 the Frnech agent Ruvigny identified him, together with his brother Robert, as one of the leaders of a third faction in Parliament. Both were said to be in the pay of Spain and were widely identified as followers of George Villiers, 2nd duke of Buckingham. James II’s later reference to the earl of Berkshire as one of Buckingham’s ‘great confidents’ in the period 1667–9 almost certainly refers to the 2nd earl rather than to his father.15

Andover was appointed to the sessional committees on 11 Oct. 1667 and again served on a wide range of select committees. In November he was involved with Buckingham and Bristol in encouraging Lady Dacres to bring in a private bill to reclaim lands previously leased to Sir Edward Nicholas.16 On 20 Nov. he protested against the decision not to commit Clarendon on a general charge. In November and December 1667 he chaired several sessions of the committee for privileges and joined a subcommittee to discuss the issue of the relative precedence of English and ‘foreign’ (i.e. Irish) nobility.17 On 4 Dec. he was named as one of the managers of the conferences to discuss Clarendon’s petition and then on 14 Dec. to draw up reasons for disagreeing with the vote of the House of Commons.

Early in March 1668, in what was presumably an attempt to repair the political damage caused by Buckingham’s duel with Francis Talbot, 11th earl of Shrewsbury, Andover was involved in moving for the committal of the bill against atheism and blasphemy, explaining to Richard Boyle, earl of Burlington, that ‘some had turned all the bible into bawdy burlesque’.18 On 26 Mar. he reported from the select committee concerning Lady Savill’s bill. On 5 May 1668 he was named as one of the reporters for the conference with the Commons in the case of Skinner v East India Co. The minutes of the committee for privileges indicate that his task was to ‘open the petition’. Andrew Marvell reported that Andover and his fellow speakers held both Houses captive for five hours. Andover was also named to subsequent conferences on the subject. 19 Despite (or perhaps because of) the deadlock that ensued, he was awarded £500 just a month later. Another warrant for £500 was issued in June 1669.20 He succeeded to his father’s earldom in July 1669, prompting William Dugdale to make a series of notes pondering the precise status of peers summoned by writ of acceleration. Did such a writ divest the father of his barony or did it create a new one that was capable of a different descent? Dugdale left the questions unanswered.21

During the autumn session of 1669 Berkshire was again present nearly every day and was added to the sessional committees. His attendance was even higher for the 1670–1 session, when he did not miss a single day and held Buckingham’s proxy for one day in March. On 8 Mar. 1670 he objected on behalf of his kinsman Thomas Howard, 5th duke of Norfolk, to the claim of Benjamin Mildmay, 17th Baron Fitzwalter, to take precedence of all barons then sitting. As in previous sessions he was named to a variety of select committees and in March 1670 chaired meetings of the select committee on bills for Lady Rowth and for the divorce of John Manners, Lord Roos (later duke of Rutland). The brief notes in the minutes of the committee on Roos’s divorce bill suggest that all present voted in favour of the bill, and Berkshire reported favourably upon it to the House on 24 March. When the bill reached the Commons, Sir Robert Howard also spoke in its favour.

Ever anxious to defend the privileges of peerage, on 5 Apr. Berkshire entered a dissent against the inclusion of a clause in the conventicles bill permitting peers’ houses to be searched. In May he was awarded another ‘free gift’ from the crown, this time of £1,000.22 In November he chaired three meetings of select committees on naturalization bills. He may also have been the Lord Howard who chaired a meeting of the select committee on the poor of London on 4 Jan. 1671, on which day he certainly did chair meetings of the select committee on the creditors of the Hamburg Company and the bill to prevent the importation of brandy. The select committee in the Commons on this last bill was chaired by his brother Robert.23

Berkshire’s extensive committee involvement continued to the end of the session. On 26 Jan. and 4 Feb. 1671 he was one of the managers of the conferences on the bill to prevent maiming. On 14 Feb. he again spoke for the interests of his cousin Norfolk, in the matter of the precedence claim entered by George Berkeley, 9th Baron (later of earl of) Berkeley. On 18 Mar. he reported from the committee for privileges on the legality of sequestrations in chancery. On 10 Apr. he was named to the conferences on the foreign commodities bill. Eight days later he chaired a meeting of the select committee to consider the bill for his kinsman Charles Howard.24 On the same day he was named as a manager of the conference on the Smithfield market bill. On 22 Apr. he was named to a further conference on foreign commodities and was one of those asked to present the thanks of the House to the king for his answer to the address for the encouragement of the constant wearing of the manufactures of the kingdom.

During the first session of 1673 Berkshire was again present every day. He was added to sessional committees on 4 Feb. and yet again was named to numerous select committees. In February he chaired committees considering the ‘multitude’ of attorneys and for the bill for James Cecil, 3rd earl of Salisbury. On 1 Mar. he was named to the committee entrusted with the task of drawing up an address of thanks to the king for communicating the complaints of the Commons over the declaration of indulgence.

Berkshire was present on three of the four sitting days of the brief autumn session of 1673 and was added to the sessional committees on 30 Oct. 1673. He attended every day of the 1674 session and was predictably added to the sessional committees on the first day of the session. On that day, together with Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey, he defended Buckingham against a petition from the trustees of the infant Charles Talbot, 12th earl (later duke of) Shrewsbury, concerning the death of his father, Francis Talbot, 11th earl of Shrewsbury, and the relationship between the widowed Lady Shrewsbury and Buckingham.25 On 13 Jan. he reported from the committee for privileges concerning the petition of Catherine, Lady O’Brien’s claim to the barony of Clifton of Leighton Bromswold. After the adjournment of the House he took the oath of allegiance.

During the first session of 1675 Berkshire was present almost every day until 21 May, after which he was absent until the end of the session on 9 June. He was again an active committee member and was added to the sessional committees on 23 Apr. 1675. In April and early May he entered four separate protests during the passage of the bill to prevent dangers presented to the government by disaffected persons, including one on 29 Apr. emphasizing the right to protest in the face of the resolution that an earlier protest reflected on the honour of the House. On 6 May he entered another protest, this time in the case of Sherley v Fagg, alleging that a conciliatory answer to the Commons was likely to be interpreted by the other House as ‘in some measure to acknowledge that the House of Commons have a claim to some privilege in judicature’. During the second brief session of 1675 his attendance slumped markedly: he was present on just over 54 per cent of the sitting days. He was absent on the opening day of the session and so was not named to the sessional committees until 8 Nov. 1675. On 20 Nov. he entered a protest at the failure of the House to address the king to dissolve Parliament.

During the 1677–8 session Berkshire’s attendance recovered slightly to approximately 65 per cent of sitting days. On the first day of the session, 15 Feb. 1677, he was, as usual, appointed to the sessional committees. In stark contrast to the position adopted by his brother Robert in the Commons, he supported the right of Buckingham, Salisbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury, and Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton, to give their opinion that Parliament was dissolved, although he did not himself join with them.26 A month later, on 15 Mar. 1677, together with Charles North, Baron Grey of Rolleston (later 5th Baron North), he was given permission to visit the four peers in the Tower. That same day he also joined with supporters of York, to enter a dissent to the third reading of the bill to secure the Protestant religion.27 On 20 Mar., together with George Savile, Viscount (later marquess of) Halifax, and Clarendon, he supported the unsuccessful motion of George Booth, Baron Delamere, for the release of the imprisoned peers.28

Berkshire was once again an active committee member. On 23 Mar. 1677 he reported from the committee for privileges on the claim of the countess dowager of Huntingdon to privilege. On 6 Apr. he reported from the same committee concerning the disputed precedency of the eldest sons of younger sons of peers. A week later he was named to the committee to draw up the heads of arguments for a conference on the supply bill. In January 1678 he presented Buckingham’s petition for enlargement to the House.29 He was absent from the House between 7 Feb. and 12 Mar. and for part of that time (20 Feb.–11 Mar.) his proxy was held by the Catholic peer William Petre, 4th Baron Petre. Given the level of anti-Catholic feeling at the time, this may well have been a public indication of a conversion to Rome. On 23 Mar. he was named to the committee to draw up an address to the king for an immediate declaration of war against France, although he was almost certainly in the pay of the French at the time.30 On 4 Apr., he voted that Thomas Herbert, 7th earl of Pembroke, was not guilty in his trial for murder.

Berkshire was present on just over three-quarters of the sitting days of the summer session of 1678. He was again named to the sessional committees and on 4 July reported from the select committee on bankers. He was absent for the first ten days of the autumn 1678 session, but he then attended nearly every day until 23 November. On 7 Nov. he was added to the committee for privileges. On 20 Nov. he entered his dissent to the passing of the Test Act, alongside James, duke of York, and six other Catholic peers. The previous day he had been granted a pass to go overseas with four servants and by 26 Nov. he had left for France. Rumour had it that he had been forced to flee for fear of what would be revealed about him by the confiscation of Edward Coleman’s papers.31 His avoidance of the need to take the new oaths suggests that he had converted to Catholicism, but revelations about his religion were not all that he had to fear: documents belonging to the French ambassador show that a Lord ‘Barker’ received payments totalling £1,000 during the period 1677–81. ‘Barker’ was identified as a Howard and is clearly a faulty rendition of Berkshire. A further description of ‘Barker’ as ‘a great haranguer’ in Parliament is more suggestive of the 2nd earl than of his successor.32

Various lists of potential supporters drawn up by Thomas Osborne, earl of Danby (later duke of Leeds) in the spring of 1679 include Berkshire, but it is likely that they refer to the 3rd rather than to the 2nd earl, since the latter died early in April 1679 in Paris. His precise date of death is unknown, but it must have been before 16 Apr., when a writ of summons was issued to his brother and heir, Thomas Howard, 3rd earl of Berkshire, who took his seat the following day.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/360.
  • 2 LJ, viii. 586; HMC 7th Rep. 24b.
  • 3 WDA, B 29, packet 1, f. 21.
  • 4 CCSP, iv. 365.
  • 5 Bodl. Rawl. A 119, f. 161.
  • 6 CSP Dom. 1660–1, pp. 523, 555; 1661–2, p. 61.
  • 7 HMC 7th rep. 164a; CSP Dom. 1661–2, p. 586.
  • 8 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/1.
  • 9 CSP Dom. 1663–4, pp. 93, 96.
  • 10 Seaward, Cavalier Parlt. 39.
  • 11 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/1.
  • 12 CSP Dom. 1664–5, pp. 22, 334, 356.
  • 13 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/1.
  • 14 CCSP, v. 623–4.
  • 15 TNA, PRO 31/3/116, pp. 95–97; Harris, Sandwich, ii. 312; Life of James II, i. 435–6.
  • 16 Eg. 2539, f. 135.
  • 17 PA, HL/PO/DC/CP/1/2.
  • 18 Chatsworth, Cork mss, Misc. Box 2, Burlington Diary, 10 and 14 Mar. 1668.
  • 19 PA, HL/PO/JO/5/1/15; HL/PO/DC/CP/1/2, ff. 52–55; Stowe 303, ff. 22–22b; Marvell, ed. Margoliouth, ii. 74.
  • 20 CTB, ii. 359; CSP Dom. 1668–9, p. 358.
  • 21 Add. 38141, f. 184b.
  • 22 CSP Dom. 1670, p. 198.
  • 23 HP Commons, 1660–90, ii. 598.
  • 24 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/2, p. 455.
  • 25 Verney ms mic. M636/27, Sir R. to E. Verney, 8 Jan. 1674.
  • 26 Haley, Shaftesbury, 417; Browning, Danby, i. 215.
  • 27 LJ, xiii. 74–75.
  • 28 Haley, Shaftesbury, 426; Browning, Danby, i. 217n; Bodl. Carte 228, f. 90.
  • 29 CSP Dom. 1677–8, p. 606.
  • 30 Dalrymple, Mems. i. 380–1.
  • 31 CSP Dom. 1677–8, p. 615; HMC Beaufort, 74.
  • 32 Dalrymple, Mems. i. 380–1.