HOWARD, Sir Thomas (1587-1669), of Charlton Park, Charlton, Wilts.; later of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster; Berkshire House, Mdx.; Newark Castle, Notts. and Ewelme Park, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



4 Nov. 1605

Family and Education

bap. 8 Oct. 1587,1 2nd s. of Thomas Howard, 1st earl of Suffolk (d.1626), ld. chamberlain 1603-14 and ld. treas. 1614-18, and 2nd w. Catherine, da. and coh. of Sir Henry Knyvet† of Charlton and wid. of Richard Rich of Rochford Hall, Essex; bro. of Sir Edward II*, Henry*, Sir Robert*, Theophilus, Lord Howard de Walden*, Sir William*.2 educ. Magdalene, Camb. 1598, MA 1605;3 earl of Nottingham’s (Charles Howard†) embassy to Spain 1605;4 G. Inn 1606; I. Temple 1607;5 travelled abroad (France, Span. Neths., ?Italy) 1608-9;6 MA Oxf. 1636.7 m. 12 May 1614,8 Elizabeth (d.1672), da. of William Cecil†, 2nd earl of Exeter, 9s. (at least 1 d.v.p.) 4da.9 cr. KB 6 Jan. 1605, Bar. Howard of Charlton and Visct. Andover 22 Jan. 1622, KG 13 Dec. 1625, earl of Berkshire 5 Feb. 1626.10 d. 16 July 1669.11 sig. Thomas Howard.

Offices Held

Lt. Braydon Forest, Wilts. (jt.) 1607-at least 1623;12 j.p., Glos. by 1614-at least 1641, Wilts. by 1614-at least 1641, 1660-at least 1664, Oxon. 1632-at least 1641, 1660-at least 1664 (custos rot. 1632-at least 1636, 16 June-10 Dec. 1660), Mdx. 1660-at least 1664,13 Cheltenham, Glos. 1618-at least 1625, Oxford, Oxon. 1665;14 steward, manor and wapentake of Newark, Notts. 1616-at least 1625;15 commr. oyer and terminer, Western circ. 1617-42, 1660-d., the Verge 1617, Oxf. circ. 1632-42, 1660-d.; London and Mdx. 1660-d.,16 subsidy, Wilts. 1622, 1624, 1629,17 Forced Loan, Wilts. 1626-7, Glos., Som., Bath, Bristol, Salisbury 1627,18 swans, Midland counties 1627, Eng. except West Country 1629, West Country 1629;19 ld. lt. (jt.) Oxon. 1628-32, (sole) 1632-42;20 commr. knighthood fines, Berks. 1630-1, Glos. 1630-1, Oxon. 1630-1, Wilts. 1630;21 high steward, Oxf. 1632-49, 1660-d., Wallingford 1632-at least 1640;22 constable, Wallingford castle and steward of honour of Ewelme, Oxon. and kpr. of park 1632-at least 1642;23 commr. oyer and terminer and gaol delivery, Surr. 1640, perambulation, Whychwood, Shotover and Stowood forests, Oxon. 1641, array, Berks., Oxon., Wilts. 1642, gaol delivery, Oxford, Oxon. 1661-d., sewers, Bedford Great Level, Fens 1662.24

Master of horse to Prince Charles 1614-25;25 member, Prince Charles’s Council 1617-25,26 jt. farmer of greenwax, Exch. 1625-at least 1641, 1657-d;27 PC 29 Mar. 1639-at least 1645, 31 May 1660-d.;28 commr. to treat with Scots 1639,29 treaty of Ripon, 1640;30 gov. to Prince Charles, 1644-6;31 member, Council of War (roy.) 1644-5,32 Prince of Wales’s Council, 1645-6.33

Patentee, glass monopoly 1615;34 gov., earl of Berkshire’s Guiana co., 1631-2;35 member, Fisheries Soc. by 1632.36


Howard’s grandfather, Thomas Howard, 4th duke of Norfolk, was executed in 1572, but his father, having married the daughter and heir of Sir Henry Knyvet, a major north Wiltshire landowner, distinguished himself in the Armada campaign and received the Garter and a peerage from Elizabeth. Lord Howard also struck up a friendship with Sir Robert Cecil†, which placed him in an ideal position to benefit from the accession of James I in 1603, when he was made earl of Suffolk, lord chamberlain of the Household and a privy councillor.37

Howard himself became a knight of the Bath when Prince Charles was created duke of York in early 1605. Subsequently the same year he joined his kinsman, the earl of Nottingham’s (Charles Howard†) embassy to Spain returned to England in June.38 The following November, the day before the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, he was returned for Lancaster in the by-election caused by the death of Sir Thomas Hesketh. Under-age, he was presumably nominated by the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir John Fortescue*, as a favour to his father, who may well have wanted Howard to sit in the Commons as part of his education.

Howard’s youth and inexperience may explain his negligible contribution to the work of the House, for he made no recorded speeches, and in the first three sessions he was only named to two bill committees, concerned with recusants (added 3 Feb. 1606) and a clause in an Elizabethan poor law statute concerning the parents of illegitimate children (9 Dec.1606). He was also appointed to attend the conference to hear the Lords’ proposals on the Union (24 Nov. 1606).39

Following the prorogation of July 1607 Suffolk decided to round off his son’s education with a tour of the Continent. Consequently in April 1608 Howard and his younger brother Henry were licensed to travel abroad for three years.40 However, their departure was delayed until the following December, when they accompanied Robert Cecil’s son, William Cecil, Viscount Cranborne* to Paris. According to Chamberlain, the brothers intended to go on to Italy, but when Howard left Paris the following February it was for Brussels, although it is possible that he subsequently headed south. What is certain is that he had returned to England by early 1610, although he may have missed the start of the fourth session of the 1604-10 Parliament. His first appearance in the records of the session was on 16 Mar., when he was appointed to consider a bill for ‘venting commodities’. He was subsequently named to three further bill committees, for fenland drainage (26 Mar.), private contracts (19 Apr.), and restraint in apparel (22 June).41

In June 1610 Howard took part in the tilts held at Prince Henry’s investiture as Prince of Wales, and by the following August he and his elder brother, Theophilus, Lord Howard de Walden, travelled to Cleves in Germany, presumably to visit the English army commanded by Sir Edward Cecil* which was besieging the nearby town of J├╝lich.42 It is not known when he returned to England. He played no recorded part in the fifth session. In May 1611 he accompanied the new Venetian ambassador to his inaugural audience with King James.43 He subsequently contested regularly at tilts, and performed at masques before the Court in London and Queen Anne at the Oxfordshire house of his brother-in-law, William, 1st Lord Knollys (William Knollys†).44

Howard used his family connections and favour at Court to secure profitable offices and leases of property. In 1610 he was granted the reversionary interest in Lord Knollys’ offices as constable of Wallingford castle and keeper of Ewelme Park in Oxfordshire, and subsequently he obtained leases of royal property in Northamptonshire.45 In 1613 he was reportedly ‘the most importunate suitor’ for the mastership of Prince Charles’s horse, a position he secured the following year, in addition to, apparently, the reversion of the greenwax fines and the treasurership of the chamber.46

In November 1611 Howard was an unsuccessful suitor for Mary Fitz, the wealthy but temperamental widow of Allan Percy*.47 In the following year a proposal to match him to the widow of Roger Manners, 5th earl of Rutland was scuppered when the lady concerned died just weeks after her husband.48 In March 1614 Howard displaced Sir Robert Sidney* as suitor for the hand of Elizabeth Cecil, a daughter of William Cecil†, 2nd Lord Burghley. Sidney had demanded a marriage portion of £8,000, whereas Suffolk, now lord treasurer, magnanimously dispensed with this provision, and put out that ‘whatsoever her friends please to give shall be at her own disposal’. The marriage was delayed for a further two months while Elizabeth’s chances of surviving a sudden attack of smallpox lay in the balance. Suffolk resettled his estates to provide Howard with manors worth £3,000 p.a., consisting principally of the former Knyvet estate in Wiltshire, and the reversion, after his mother Catherine, of Charlton Park, the family’s principal residence in the county.49

Howard’s election as knight of the shire for Wiltshire in 1614 neatly coincided with his marriage and his elevation among the top tier of the local gentry. However, his estates were concentrated in north Wiltshire, and since he was probably still only in his twenties, his success in being returned for the county was probably due as much to his father’s standing as his own. His parliamentary activity was again slight. On 13 Apr. he was appointed to the committee to consider the House’s protest against undertakers, and on the following day he was named to help confer with the Lords regarding the bill to confirm the right of the children of Princess Elizabeth, recently married to the Elector Palatine, to succeed to the throne.50

In early 1615 Howard was included in the patent for the glass monopoly, although he sold his interest to Sir Robert Mansell* in the summer.51 Later that year his position at Court came under threat when his sister Frances, countess of Somerset, was accused of murdering Sir Thomas Overbury. Howard audaciously sent the king ‘an unmannerly and seditious message’ defending her, for which in November 1615 he was briefly incarcerated in the Fleet.52 Nevertheless, by 1617 he had evidently been politically rehabilitated as he was appointed a member of Prince Charles’s Council and granted the reversion of the governorship of Guernsey, while in the same year Prince Charles attended his child’s christening.53 In February 1618 James proposed sending him, as his proxy, to Heidelberg for the christening of Princess Elizabeth’s second son, Charles, and he was granted £500 per annum out of the gold thread monopoly. In the following year he secured custody of the jewel and plate confiscated from his disgraced brother-in-law, Robert Carr, 1st earl of Somerset.54

In late 1619 Suffolk was imprisoned for corruption and, to obtain his release, the following January he was obliged to promise that Howard would relinquish the mastership of the prince’s Horse, which it was reported had been promised to John Villiers, Viscount Purbeck, brother of the rising favourite Buckingham.55 However, Suffolk successfully appealed to James and Buckingham to ‘spare the ruin’ of his sons. Buckingham, now that he had demonstrated his pre-eminence at Court, was undoubtedly reluctant to leave any lingering resentment among the still powerful Howards, particularly as he was negotiating to marry the countess of Suffolk’s niece. Consequently Howard retained his office and was soon restored to James’s favour, his entertainments for the king at Charlton in August 1620 being ‘much commended and well accepted’. That same year he was granted a lease of the royal manor and castle of Newark ‘in consideration of the good and acceptable service done’ by him for Prince Charles.56

In 1620 Howard was returned for Cricklade, ten miles from Charlton, where Suffolk was the dominant electoral patron. He made one recorded speech in the Commons, on 17 Mar., concerning the transmission of the charges against the lord chancellor (Sir Francis Bacon*) to the Lords, when he successfully moved that the proper procedure was to first send a message to the Lords requesting a conference.57 He was named to four committees in the first sitting. Two were for bills, one of which concerned the subsidy (7 Mar.) while the other dealt with the tenants of Oldbury manor, which lay over the border from Charlton in south Gloucestershire (20 April). His other appointments were for drafting a petition in defence of the House’s right to freedom of speech (12 Feb.) and for increasing the seating in the Commons’ chamber (26 March).58 Howard’s interest in the gold thread patent was revealed on 7 Mar. and his involvement in the glass monopoly came to light on 30 Apr., whereupon William Mallory unsuccessfully called for him to be expelled (2 May).59 Howard appears only once in the surviving records of the second sitting, when the diarist Edward Nicholas named him as one of the courtiers delegated to present the House’s petition regarding war with Spain to the king on 3 December. However, Nicholas’s mention of him was probably erroneous, as Howard does not appear in the committee list contained in the Journal or in any other diary.60

In January 1622 Howard was raised to the peerage as Baron Charlton and Viscount Andover. According to Chamberlain, his elevation was arranged by Buckingham as part payment by the latter for the London house of Howard’s brother-in-law, Lord Knollys, by now Viscount Wallingford.61 Early the next year Howard followed Charles and Buckingham to Spain.62 After Charles’s accession in 1625 Chamberlain reported that Buckingham paid Howard £20,000 and promised him an earldom and a seat on the Privy Council in return for surrendering his office as Charles’s master of the Horse.63 Although Howard was one of the earls created at Charles’s coronation the following year, he did not become a privy councillor until 1639. In August 1642 Howard was captured by the parliamentarians, allegedly trying to execute the commission of array in Oxfordshire, which charge he subsequently denied. He was confined to his house until March 1643, when he obtained permission to visit his estates in Wiltshire. He was thereby enabled to join the king at Oxford, where he became governor to the Prince of Wales.64 In 1646 he followed the future Charles II to the Channel Islands, but, failing to dissuade the prince from going to France, he went to Holland before returning to England the following October. In 1649 he compounded for his estate for about £1,300.65 He died, reportedly as a result of a fall, on 16 July 1669, and was buried in St. John the Baptist’s chapel, Westminster Abbey. No will or grant of administration has been found.66 Two of his sons, Sir Charles and Thomas, sat in the Long Parliament, while two others, Sir Robert and Philip, were MPs at the Restoration.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Ben Coates


  • 1. W.E. Layton, ‘Extracts from the regs. of Saffron Walden relating to the Howard fam.’, Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), v. 142.
  • 2. CP, ii. 150; xii. pt. 1, p. 465.
  • 3. Al. Cant.
  • 4. R. Treswell, ‘Relation of such things as were observed to happen in the journey of the right honourable Charles earl of Nottingham’ (1605), reprinted in Harl. Misc. iii. 425.
  • 5. GI Admiss.; I. Temple database of admiss.
  • 6. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 273; Winwood’s Memorials ed. E. Sawyer, iii. 119.
  • 7. Al. Ox.
  • 8. Chamberlain Letters, i. 534.
  • 9. Collins, Peerage, iii. 162.
  • 10. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 32, 157; 47th DKR, 107, 111.
  • 11. Collins, iii. 161.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 359; 1619-23, p. 512.
  • 13. C66/1988; 2859; C220/9/4, f. 95; C193/12/3, ff. 63, 81, 109v; Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 67; SP16/405, f. 53; C231/7, pp. 4, 60.
  • 14. C231/4, f. 74; C181/3, f. 186; 181/7, f. 319.
  • 15. E315/310, f. 78; 315/311, f. 2.
  • 16. C181/2, ff. 286v, 287; 181/4, f. 117; 181/5, ff. 218v, 220v; 181/7, ff. 8, 10, 67v, 454, 494, 497.
  • 17. C212/22/21; 212/22/23; Add. 34566, f. 132.
  • 18. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145; C193/12/2, ff. 49, 20, 63v, 77, 85, 89v.
  • 19. C181/3, ff. 226v, 267; 181/4, f. 2.
  • 20. Sainty, Lords Lieutenants, 30.
  • 21. APC, 1630-1, p. 69; E178/5310, f. 9; 178/5153, f. 4; 178/7154, ff. 4, 99, 156, 185.
  • 22. C.F. Patterson, Urban Patronage in Early Modern Eng. 250, 253; Oxf. Council Acts ed. M. Hobson and H. Salter (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xcv), 260; HMC Le Fleming, 66.
  • 23. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 584; VCH Berks. iii. 528.
  • 24. C181/5, ff. 169, 209; 181/7, ff. 98, 147, 455; Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 25. Chamberlain Letters, i. 534; ii. 615.
  • 26. G. Haslam, ‘Jacobean Phoenix’, Estates of Eng. Crown ed. R. Hoyle, pp. 275, 276, 284.
  • 27. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 537; 1656-7, p. 313; CTB, 1660-7, pp. 99, 702.
  • 28. CSP Dom. 1639, p. 5; PC2/53, f. 110v; PC2/55/2, f. 4; CP, ii. 150.
  • 29. CSP Dom. 1639, p. 294.
  • 30. HMC Var. vii. 425.
  • 31. HMC 4th Rep. 308; Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, iv. 201.
  • 32. Harl. 6802, f. 17; Harl. 6852, f. 37.
  • 33. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 252-3; Clarendon, iv. 199.
  • 34. CD 1621, vii. 362.
  • 35. Wilts. RO, 88/1/140; English and Irish Settlement on River Amazon ed. J. Lorimer (Hakluyt Soc. ser. 2. clxxi), 103-8.
  • 36. CUL, Dd.xi.71, f. 30v.
  • 37. Oxford DNB sub Howard, Thomas, first earl of Suffolk.
  • 38. Treswell, 446.
  • 39. CJ, i. 263a, 324b, 328b.
  • 40. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 422.
  • 41. CJ, i. 412a, 414b, 419a, 442b.
  • 42. HMC Downshire, ii. 317, 348.
  • 43. CSP Ven. 1610-13, p. 150.
  • 44. Chamberlain Letters, i. 440, 446, 590, ii. 152, 220; Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton ed. L. Pearsall Smith, ii. 16; HMC Downshire, ii. 317; J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, ii. 714, 759.
  • 45. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 584; S03/5, unfol., July 1612, Dec. 1613.
  • 46. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 247, 302.
  • 47. Chamberlain Letters, i. 316.
  • 48. Ibid. 375.
  • 49. Ibid. 512, 516; Wilts. RO 88/1/118; 88/2/35; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 266.
  • 50. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 76, 82.
  • 51. E. Godfrey, Development of English Glassmaking, 79.
  • 52. SP14/82/112; APC, 1615-16, p. 316; HMC Downshire, v. 371.
  • 53. SO3/6, unfol., Jan. 1617; Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford ed. D. Clifford, 57.
  • 54. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 143; HMC 3rd Rep. 15; SO3/6, unfol., June 1619.
  • 55. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 278; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 114.
  • 56. Cabala sive Scrinia Sacra, 333-4; R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 64-5; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 315; C. Brown, Annals of Newark-upon-Trent, 92.
  • 57. CJ, i. 561b.
  • 58. CJ, i. 518a, 544a, 573a, 583a.
  • 59. CD 1621, ii. 336; iv. 129; v. 123.
  • 60. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 276.
  • 61. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 421.
  • 62. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 511.
  • 63. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 615.
  • 64. LJ, v. 294, 353, 681.
  • 65. Clarendon, iv. 201; LJ, viii. 465, 549; CCC, 1967-8.
  • 66. Collins, iii. 161; Regs. Westminster Abbey ed. J.L. Chester, 170.