HOWARD, Edward (c. 1602-75)

HOWARD, Edward (c. 1602–75)

cr. 12 Apr. 1628 Bar. HOWARD OF ESCRICK

First sat before 1660, 14 Apr. 1628; first sat after 1660, 27 Apr. 1660; last sat 17 Apr. 1675

MP Calne 1624, 1625, Hertford 10 Mar.-12 Apr. 1628, Carlisle 26 Apr. 1649-25 June 1651

b. c. Oct. 1602, 8th but 5th surv. s. of Thomas Howard (later earl of Suffolk) - and 2nd w. Catherine, da. and coh. of Sir Henry Knyvett of Charlton, Wilts. and wid. of Richard Rich of Rochford Hall, Essex; bro. of Theophilus Howard, later 2nd earl of Suffolk, Thomas Howard, later earl of Berkshire, Henry Howard, Sir Robert Howard, and Sir William Howard. educ. travelled abroad, 1620–3. m. 30 Nov. 1623, Mary (bur. 30 Jan. 1634), da. of Sir John Boteler, bt. (later Bar. Boteler), of Bramfield Place, Herts. 7s. (4 d.v.p.), 1da. KB 3 Nov. 1616; suc. to Escrick estate 1622. d. 24 Apr. 1675; will 22 Apr., pr. 26 Apr. 1675.1

Farmer of greenwax fines (jt.) 1631–aft. Mar. 1639; Cllr. of State 1650.

Ld. lt. Worcs. 1642–at least 1644; commr. Northern Assoc. Yorks. (E. Riding) 1645, militia, northern cos. 1648, Herts. and Yorks. 1648, propagating gospel, northern cos. 1650; sewers, Yorks. (E. Riding), 1654–67.

Mbr. cttee. of safety 1642, cttee. for advance of money 1642, cttee. for sequestrations 1643, of both kingdoms 1643, Westminster Assembly 1643, cttee. for compounding 1647.2

Gov. Charterhouse 1660.3

Associated with: Escrick, Yorks. and Tollesbury Hall, Essex.

Edward Howard was the youngest son in the large family of Thomas Howard, created earl of Suffolk in July 1603. His two eldest brothers also became peers: the first son, Theophilus Howard, succeeded their father as 2nd earl of Suffolk in 1626, while Thomas Howardwas created Viscount Andover in 1622 and earl of Berkshire in 1626. Three of his other brothers sat in the Commons, Sir Robert Howard, a country leader in the Cavalier Parliament, being the most prominent among them.

In 1622, Howard inherited the manor of Escrick and other property in the East Riding of Yorkshire through his mother, Catherine Knyvett, the heiress of her childless uncle, Thomas Knyvett, Baron Knyvett of Escrick. Almost immediately he took a prominent part in the local government of the East Riding, serving as a justice of the peace there from as early as 1623. At his father’s death in May 1626 he came into a further inheritance, of land in Essex, particularly centred around Tollesbury Hall. Here too he was quickly appointed to local offices and responsibilities, being first named to the Essex magistrates’ bench as early as July 1626. For most of his career the far-flung territories of the East Riding of Yorkshire and Essex remained the two centres of his local activity and influence. A full account of his career in the Commons, together with a detailed list of his many offices and commissions in those areas and elsewhere, before the Restoration, appears in the relevant Commons volumes of the History of Parliament. Within a month of his return as Member for the borough of Hertford in 1628, Howard was raised to the peerage as Baron Howard of Escrick, through the influence of his wife’s uncle George Villiers, duke of Buckingham. He took his seat in the House only two days after his creation.

According to Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon, Howard was ‘absolutely governed’ by his benefactor Buckingham. After Buckingham’s murder, however, and the death of Howard’s own wife in 1634 and father-in-law in 1637, he withdrew from court and ‘delivered himself up body and soul to be disposed of by that party which appeared most averse and obnoxious to the government’.4 He became a particularly prominent figure on the committee for the advance of money from 1644, a position which gave him great influence and a readily available source of funds to siphon off for his personal use. He gained a reputation, both among royalists and his fellow parliamentarians, for naked self-interest, embezzlement, and peculation. He did not do his already damaged reputation any good by joining the Rump as Member for Carlisle shortly after the abolition of the House of Lords – one of only six peers to join the Commons after 1649. It is probable that his selection for this borough was due to the interest of his son-in-law Charles Howard, later earl of Carlisle, husband of his daughter Anne, who was just beginning his sharp rise in the Cromwellian regime. Howard of Escrick was further appointed a member of the Council of State on 20 Feb. 1650, albeit with some difficulty, as he initially received the lowest number of votes of all the candidates.5

In only a few short months his fortunes began to unravel. On 30 July 1650 a commission was established to investigate the allegations that Howard had taken ‘divers bribes for the excusing delinquents from sequestration, and easing them in their compositions’.6 On 25 June 1651 the committee found him guilty, and Parliament excluded him from office and from his seat, imprisoned him, and fined him £10,000. Howard was probably merely meant to serve as a scapegoat to deflect public anger at generalized corruption in the Rump, for he was able to escape the severest penalties – imprisonment and the fine – by the flimsy plea of old age, illness, and poverty. He did remain excluded from Parliament and office, however, and retired from public life for the rest of the decade.

The Restoration provided Howard with an opportunity to revive his political life and fortunes. Between 1660 and his death in 1675 he attended the House of Lords for at least three-quarters of the sitting days of every session except one. He took his seat on 27 Apr. 1660, the third meeting of the Convention, maintaining an attendance level of 81 per cent and being chosen in the Convention’s early days to take part in committees entrusted with effecting a smooth transition to the new regime. On 1 May 1660 he was a manager of a conference with the Commons ‘to make up the breaches and distractions of this kingdom’, and the following day he was appointed to the committee to consider an ordinance to make George Monck, later duke of Albemarle, captain general of the forces in England. He chaired a committee on 14 May which discussed the proper methods for the reception of the king and a week later he was placed on the committee to consider an ordinance for a monthly assessment.7 After the king’s return he was named to a further 11 committees in the Convention, including those for the bill to confirm and restore ministers in their parishes (8 Sept.) and to collect the arrears of the last assessment of the Interregnum (24 November). He seems to have had a particular concern regarding the continuing validity of judicial proceedings and decisions made during the Interregnum, many of which closely involved him and the executive committees which he had chaired in the 1640s. He was placed on the committees for the bills to continue pending judicial proceedings (30 May) and to confirm the legal decisions of the Interregnum (19 July). His one protest in the Convention also reveals this concern. On 13 Dec. 1660 he subscribed to the protest against the bill to vacate fines levied by Sir Edward Powell in 1653. Along with a host of royalist and ministerial peers – including Clarendon, and James Butler, marquess (later duke) of Ormond [I] (sitting in the House as earl of Brecknock), he objected ‘that fines are the foundation of the assurances of the realm, upon which so many titles do depend’, and that vacating those of the past 20 years would shake the foundations of society.

Howard was present on the first day of the Cavalier Parliament, on 8 May 1661, and attended 78 per cent of its long first session of 1661–2, being named to 11 committees. He was forecast by Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton, to be opposed to the claims (presented to the House on 11 July) of Aubrey de Vere, 20th earl of Oxford, to the office of lord great chamberlain. Two days after this the House heard evidence that the rents of a manor in Hertfordshire had for several years been paid to Howard as guardian to his mentally incapacitated brother-in-law William Boteler, 2nd Baron Boteler. The House thus ordered a halt to an action of ejectment against one of the manor’s tenants, as a breach of Howard’s privilege.

The next year, on 22 Feb. 1662, Howard complained to the House that he had been served with an order to appear before the justices of sewers at king’s bench to answer to presentments made against him. The House referred the matter to the Committee for Privileges, which considered the case on 1 Mar., but its final decision does not appear to have been reported to the House. He also defended the legislative rights of the House against the claims of the Commons: on 19 May 1662 he subscribed to the protest against the resolution to drop two provisos from the bill for mending the common highways, made in the face of objections from the Commons that the House could not add or initiate clauses to a money bill.

Howard maintained a similarly high attendance rate in all subsequent sessions of the Cavalier Parliament, except for that of October 1665, which he did not attend at all. He attended 85 per cent in spring 1663; 83 per cent in spring 1664; 90 per cent in 1664–5; 89 per cent in 1666–7; 40 per cent in the five-day session of July 1667; 97 per cent in 1667–8; 92 per cent in winter 1669; 75 per cent in 1670–1; and 79 per cent in spring 1673. He came to every meeting of the brief four-day session of late October 1673 and then again to every meeting of the session in early 1674. Yet, although he was a constant presence in the House, he seems to have made little impact on its business. His activity appears to have been largely confined to nominations to committees, and even in this regard he was hardly named to every committee established by the House and was often omitted. He was named to only 31 committees across the eight sessions from February 1663 to December 1669.

It is difficult to determine a specific legislative agenda or political stance for Howard of Escrick. His Civil War background, when he was closely connected to the Independents and religious radicals, suggest that he should be considered a presbyterian peer in the Restoration. Wharton predicted that he would be a supporter of George Digby, 2nd earl of Bristol, in his attempt to impeach Lord Chancellor Clarendon on 10 July 1663, perhaps on the basis that Howard opposed the religious restrictions of what has come to be known as the ‘Clarendon code’. Later, on 26 Mar. 1670, he protested against the passage of the second Conventicle Bill in the House and on 5 Apr. he further dissented from the resolution to agree with the Commons in their rejection of the House’s amendment to the bill which would exempt peers’ houses from search. At the same time, on 17 Mar. 1670 he had joined a group of high churchmen – 12 bishops, Prince James, duke of York, and 21 lay peers – in protesting against the second reading of the bill allowing John Manners, then styled Lord Roos (later duke of Rutland), to remarry after his divorce. On 8 Apr. 1670 Howard also subscribed to the protest against the passage of the bill setting an imposition on the import of foreign brandy.

Howard was still attending the House right up to his death. He came to the first five days of the session of spring 1675, but then left the House. Five days after his last sitting on 17 Apr. 1675 he wrote his will, ‘being sick of body’, and died four days later, on 26 April. The will suggests that by the time of his death he had lost much of his land and local influence in the north. His interests in Yorkshire had been acknowledged in his appointment in the early 1660s as a commissioner of sewers for the East Riding, but his position there was damaged by the sale of Escrick to the local merchant Sir Henry Thompson in 1668, followed two years later by his disposal of Wigginton manor, in the North Riding, to Christopher Hewley of York.8 The only real estate mentioned in his will is the manor of Tollesbury (or Toulsbury) Hall in Essex, part of his paternal inheritance. What influence he may have retained in the north probably came through his son-in-law Charles Howard, created earl of Carlisle in 1661. Howard seems to have valued his relation with Carlisle above all his many other Howard kin, for he made him executor of his will and reserved the greater share of his bequests to the earl’s children, his own grandchildren. To his two younger sons, William Howard, later 3rd Baron Howard of Escrick, and Sir Cecil Howard, he left £250 each; to various servants and friends he gave annuities or bequests totalling £80; and to the earl and countess of Carlisle and their daughters he left legacies totalling £600, as well as his favourite bed and tapestries. The residue of the estate and the title itself passed to his eldest son and heir, Thomas Howard, 2nd Baron Howard of Escrick.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/347.
  • 2 For a full list of his civil war offices see HP Commons, 1640-60.
  • 3 G.S. Davies, Charterhouse in London, App. D.
  • 4 Clarendon, Rebellion, iv. 17.
  • 5 CSP Dom. 1650, pp. 5, 10, 17, 18, 35.
  • 6 Ludlow Mems. i. 258.
  • 7 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/1, 14 May 1660.
  • 8 VCH Yorks. (E. Riding), iii. 20; VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), ii. 216.