HOWARD, Sir George (by 1519-80), of London and Kidbrooke, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. by 1519, 3rd s. of Lord Edmund Howard by 1st w. Joyce, da. and coh. of Sir Richard Culpepper of Kent. Kntd. Sept. 1547.2
Equerry of the stable to Hen. 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 1579.3
Lord Edmund Howard, third son of Thomas, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, was a spendthrift who soon dissipated his wife’s 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 Cromwell’s help his father was appointed comptroller of Calais in 1530, but was still overwhelmed with debts when he died in 1539. Catherine’s marriage in the following year augured well for her brother’s fortunes: in October 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 June 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 Queen’s disgrace and execution.4
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 September bore the standard at Pinkie, a service for which he was knighted by the Duke of Somerset at Roxburgh. He went north again in June 1548, receiving £50 in fees, and in July 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 Henry II of France in May 1551. He wrote a masque, The Triumph of Cupid, produced by George Ferrers as a Christmas entertainment for Edward VI’s court, and it was perhaps in this connexion that in January 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 Howard’s kinsman Sir Edward Baynton, but by the autumn of 1547 the lordship had been granted to Catherine Parr’s fourth husband, Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and the constableship of the castle was held by William Herbert I, afterwards 1st Earl of Pembroke, to whom, apparently at Henry VIII’s request, Howard had sold his Wiltshire manors early in 1547 for £800. Howard’s brother-in-law Sir Thomas Arundell was both chancellor to Catherine Parr and a friend of Herbert’s, 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 Howard’s role in the ensuing Parliament.5
His (apparent) absence from its successor of March 1553 argues against Howard’s having been a trusted follower of the Duke of Northumberland and although on the death of Edward VI he at first joined the duke’s force to take Mary prisoner we have it on the—not altogether reliable—evidence of an Italian in London that he quitted Northumberland’s camp after a quarrel with the duke’s son, the Earl of Warwick, and joined Mary with 50 horse. On 23 July 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 January 1554 was given an annuity of £200 for services to Henry VIII and Edward VI and because of the Queen’s good opinion of him. He was sent with his uncle Norfolk into Kent against Wyatt and was a chief mourner at the duke’s funeral nine months later. In June 1554 he had been appointed a carver in the household of Philip of Spain, although the appointment lapsed when the prince arrived in July 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 Spain’s 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 Cheyne 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 alias Cobham. His dereliction did not prevent him from being returned again in 1558; on this occasion he sat for Winchelsea and was certainly named by Cheyne, to whom, as lord warden of the Cinque Ports, the town had granted both nominations.