HOWARD, Francis (1643-95)

HOWARD, Francis (1643–95)

suc. cos. 1681 as 4th Bar. HOWARD OF EFFINGHAM

First sat 3 May 1685; last sat 20 Mar. 1695

bap. 17 Sept 1643, s. of Sir Charles Howard of Eastwick, Gt. Bookham, Surr. and Frances, da. of Sir George Courthope. educ. unknown. m. (1) 8 July 1673, Philadelphia (1654–85), da. of Sir Thomas Pelham, bt. and 3rd w. Margaret Vane, 3s. (2 d.v.p.), 5 other ch. d.v.p.; (2) 20 Jan. 1690, Susan (c.1650–1726), da. of Sir Henry Felton, bt. of Playford, Suff. and Susan Tollemache, wid. of Philip Harbord, s.p. suc. fa. 20 Mar. 1673. d. 30 Mar. 1695; will 20 Dec 1694, pr. 1 June 1695.1

Gov. Virginia 1683–93.

Associated with: Hale House, Chelsea, Mdx.; Lingfield, Surr. and Virginia (1683-89)

Likenesses: oil on canvas, school of Sir G. Kneller, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.

Francis Howard succeeded to the barony of Howard of Effingham at the death of his distant cousin Charles Howard, 3rd earl of Nottingham. By the modern convention for referring to peers he would be known as Lord Howard but his contemporaries regularly referred to him as Lord Effingham and his own acceptance of that title is shown by his adoption of the single word Effingham as his signature. Little money accompanied the honour and the new baron was therefore dependent on his own patrimony and court favour. His first marriage brought him into a useful if somewhat inactive parliamentary connection: his wife’s brother, Sir Nicholas Pelham, her half-brother, Sir John Pelham, and her brother-in-law, Sir John Monson, all sat in the Commons, as did two of Sir John Monson’s sons, Henry and William. Effingham remained on friendly terms with his first wife’s family for the rest of his life, naming Sir Nicholas Pelham, another brother-in-law, Thomas Methwold, and George Monson as his executors.

His own family connections were also useful. Effingham’s kinsman Henry Howard, 6th duke of Norfolk, the recognized head of the Howard clan, and his kinsman by marriage, Henry Mordaunt, 2nd earl of Peterborough, were both close to James, duke of York, and it appears to have been their influence that secured the post of governor of Virginia for the new peer. As governor Effingham pursued a resolute policy of supporting and extending the royal prerogative, the corollary of which was the diminution of the power of the local representative assembly. Although he was later suspected of Catholicism, he seems to have been a committed Anglican: at his departure for Virginia in 1683, John Fell, bishop of Oxford, wrote to him expressing his confidence that Effingham would support the interests of religion.2

Effingham’s governorship of Virginia did not mean that he was permanently absent from England. He was in London early in 1685, perhaps to compliment James II on his accession, and took his seat at the opening of the 1685 Parliament. Presumably he then returned to Virginia, as he was absent for the remainder of the session. What little survives of his correspondence indicates that he was kept informed of the growing crisis at home. Henry Compton, who, as bishop of London, claimed a supervisory role over the colonial Church, wrote in November 1686 of his belief that ‘my jurisdiction would not be long in your parts …’, and the following year Effingham’s cousin Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk, wrote, somewhat enviously, that ‘You could never had found a more seasonable time to be where you are’.3 Even though Effingham was abroad and therefore powerless to vote, his name was still included on various lists detailing the names of peers and their attitudes to James II’s policies. Four lists drawn up between 1687 and 1688 agree that, if present in the House, Effingham would vote in favour of the repeal of the Test Acts. This notional support for the repeal of the Test appears to have been the basis of suspicions of his Catholicism.

Effingham’s problems with the colonial opposition, concerns about his health, and perhaps a touch of self-interest impelled him to return to England shortly after the revolution of 1688. At a call of the House on 25 Jan. 1689 he was listed as being abroad, but he appeared in the House on 3 May on a writ of summons dated 2 Apr. and this was erroneously recorded as his first appearance. He took the oaths to the new regime and was named to the committee to reverse the attainder of Dame Alice Lisle. Thereafter he was present on nearly half the remaining sitting days. In May 1689 he voted against reversing the judgments against Titus Oates. He was named to several committees, including the committee for the Journal and that to consider the bill for Arundel Ground promoted by his kinsman the duke of Norfolk. In a list compiled by Thomas Osborne, marquess of Carmarthen (later duke of Leeds), between October 1689 and February 1690 he was classed as among the supporters of the court, although one to be spoken to.

During the 1689–90 session of the Convention Parliament Effingham was present on just over one-third of sitting days and was named to four committees. During the first session of the 1690 Parliament his attendance rose to some two-thirds of sitting days. On 21 Mar. he was named to the usual sessional committees and to a further eight select committees. There is no clear pattern to his attendances and it is likely that they were dictated as much by his state of health as by the business before the House. His health was still precarious – in July 1690 he was said to be ‘very ill at Tunbridge’.4 Nevertheless he was anxious to secure reappointment as governor of Virginia and probably saw attendance at the House as a way of signalling the reliability of his support for the new regime. His reappointment was announced in June 1690 but he did not return to Virginia, arranging for his office to be executed by deputy instead.5

During the 1690–1 session Effingham was present for just over 40 per cent of sittings. He was named to the committees for privileges and petitions on the first day of the session but was then absent until 18 Oct., when the main business before the House was the controversy over the Privy Council’s commitment of Arthur Herbert, earl of Torrington. During the session he was named to seven committees. The business of Virginia remained unsettled and in November 1690 he was the subject of a complaint to the Privy Council from three seamen whom he had arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of piracy; the matter was still unresolved in May 1692.6

Effingham attended 58 per cent of the sitting days during the 1691–2 session; he was named to the committees for privileges, the Journal, and petitions, and to 15 further committees. He held the proxy of Edward Howard, 2nd earl of Carlisle, from 9 Jan. until Carlisle’s death on 23 Apr. 1692, and that of William Howard, 3rd Baron Howard of Escrick, from 18 Jan. 1692 until the end of the session. Although there is no evidence to confirm it, it seems likely that the proxies were solicited for use in the passage of the divorce bill of their mutual kinsman Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk, rather than for the debates over treason trials which provided the other major concern of the session. On 16 Feb. Effingham was one of the peers who protested against a decision of the House to disallow proxy voting in the case of the Norfolk divorce.

That same month he was involved in a case of privilege resulting from a dispute with Charles Shaw and Robert Paston (brother of William Paston, 2nd earl of Yarmouth), husbands of Lady Effingham’s daughters by Philip Harbord. The dispute itself concerned the distribution of Harbord’s estate but the privilege issue centred on whether Lady Effingham was acting as executrix or as a trustee. During the course of the proceedings it was suggested that Lady Effingham had paid all legacies due and that the residue was hers absolutely. The inference appears to be that Effingham had made a very advantageous match, although it is clear from his will that his marriage settlement allowed the new countess to retain control of her own personal estate notwithstanding coverture. On 20 Feb. the Lords voted by an overwhelming majority that neither Effingham nor his wife were entitled to privilege in this case.

Effingham was present at the opening of the 1692–3 session, when he was again named to the committees for privileges, the Journal, and petitions. He was then present for some 60 per cent of sitting days and was named to nine further committees. On 22 Dec. 1692 he was recorded as having told, probably for the not contents, in a motion to adjourn the House relating to the hearing of evidence in the Norfolk divorce case. He held the proxy of Robert Lucas, 3rd Baron Lucas of Shenfield, between 27 Dec. 1692 and 23 Jan. 1693, and that of Howard of Escrick from 30 Dec. to the end of the session. The proxies were probably for use against the place bill; Effingham voted against it on 31 December. On 2 Jan. 1693 he was a teller for the division on whether to read the revived Norfolk divorce bill.

Effingham attended the opening of the 1693–4 session, when he was named to the committees for privileges and the Journal; he was also named to 12 other committees. Over the course of the session his attendance fell to approximately 35 per cent. During the following (1694–5) session he was present on 63 per cent of possible sitting days until his last appearance on 20 Mar. (47 per cent overall) and was again appointed to the committee for privileges. He was also named to 12 select committees. On 23 Jan. 1695 he joined with other predominately Tory peers to protest against the resolution to postpone implementation of the provisions of the bill for regulating treason trials.

His will, drawn up in December 1694, suggests that his financial affairs had considerably improved since his succession to the peerage. He had built up his landholdings in Surrey, had lent £1,200 to the crown under an act of Parliament of 1694, and was able to leave a portion of £3,000 for his daughter Elizabeth. At his death he also held shares worth some £400–£600 in the East India Company.7 At the time of making the will Effingham stated that he was in good health, but at the end of March 1695, just ten days after his last appearance in the House, Luttrell reported that Effingham had been ‘given over’ by his physicians.8 Although he left little mark on the House or society at least one contemporary lamented his passing, for ‘he was a very good man’.9 He was succeeded by his under-age son Thomas Howard, 6th Baron Howard of Effingham.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/426.
  • 2 Library of Congress mss, calendared in National Reg. of Archives 1675–99, J. Fell to Howard of Effingham, 7 Oct. 1683.
  • 3 Ibid. Henry Compton to Howard of Effingham, 19 Nov. 1686; Norfolk to Howard of Effingham, 10 Sept. 1687.
  • 4 Verney ms mic. M636/44, J. to Sir R. Verney, 24 July 1690.
  • 5 HMC Finch, iii. 380.
  • 6 TNA, PC 2/74, pp. 50, 84, 165.
  • 7 BL, OIOC, HOME misc/2, pp 22, 65, 116, 166.
  • 8 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 456.
  • 9 HMC Hastings ii. 244.