HOW, Sir Richard (c.1638-83), of Paris Garden, Southwark, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1638, o.s. of James How, woodmonger, of Paris Garden by w. Anne Haile. m. (1) 25 Aug. 1663, Anne Hart of Southwark, 1s. 2da.; (2) lic. 18 June 1678, aged 40, Sarah (d. 7 Apr. 1706), wid. of William Lewington of Lambeth, and of John Hill, Fishmonger, of London, s.p. suc. fa. 1667; kntd. 28 Oct. 1677.1

Offices Held

Member, Woodmongers’ Co. c.1660; capt. of militia ft. Southwark Apr. 1660, maj. by 1672, col. 1681-d.; commr. for assessment, Southwark 1667-9, Surr. 1673-80, London 1679-80; alderman, London 11-25 June 1668, 1682-d., sheriff 1678-9; member, Fishmongers’ Co. 1669, prime warden 1680; j.p. Surr. 1670-d.; dep. lt. Mdx. and Southwark by 1672-d.; member, Eastland Co. 1672; commr. for recusants, Surr. 1675, rebuilding of Southwark 1677.2


How’s father was born in the Forest of Dean, but he had settled on Bankside by 1613, and from 1622 his name figures regularly in the accounts of Paris Garden as scavenger, overseer of the poor, and coal-merchant. He was nominated by the Rump as militia commissioner in 1649, but seems to have avoided political commitment. How himself, as one of the churchwardens of St. Saviour’s, strove to maintain control of the clergy, and in 1664 he was committed to the Fleet by the Privy Council for beating the afternoon lecturer and ejecting him from the pulpit in full view of a congregation of six thousand. He fined off for alderman of London in 1668, but when the new parish of Christ Church was created by Act of Parliament in 1670 he paid for a gallery in the church. He was made a county magistrate, and in view of his ‘interest among the people’ Joseph Williamson suggested asking for his assistance in putting down conventicles in Southwark. In the business world he was best known as a fishmonger ‘to be found every morning at Billingsgate’, but he was also a lighterman and ship-owner, and he prospered sufficiently to allow each of his daughters a £4,500 portion. Described to the Government as ‘active and honest’ in 1672, he was knighted six years later, although still refusing municipal office.3

How represented Southwark in the three Exclusion Parliaments, and was initially classed by Shaftesbury as ‘honest’. According to Roger Morrice he voted for the first exclusion bill, but the official list puts him in the opposite lobby, and this is more probably correct, for he enjoyed court support in the October election, and in the same month acted as one of the stewards at the feast of the artillery company held in honour of the Duke of York. His only committee was in the second Exclusion Parliament, when he was among those to whom a Surrey petition against the ecclesiastical courts was referred. Cries of ‘no abhorrers’ greeted How and Peter Rich at the hustings in 1681, but they were re-elected. He stood unsuccessfully as court candidate for alderman of Bishopsgate ward in September. He helped Rich to suppress conventicles in Southwark, and in March 1682 he sat on the jury which fined Thomas Pilkington £800 in an action of scandalum magnatum. In June of that year he was put in nomination by the Tory lord mayor to succeed Thomas Bludworth as alderman of Aldersgate, and was chosen out of the two successful candidates by the court of aldermen. He was accused of using the trained bands ‘to terrify’ the Whig voters at the election of the sheriffs of London that summer. He died intestate on 22 July 1683, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 682, 718; PCC 106 Carr; The Gen. n.s. vii. 94; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 329; Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 635; C10/221/55.
  • 2. J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 94; Parl. Intell. 9 Apr. 1660; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 392.
  • 3. PCC 106 Carr; Surr. Arch. Colls. xvi. 97, 122; PC2/57/164; Survey of London, xxii. 102; CSP Dom. 1671, pp. 569, 581; SP29/307/3; C10/221/55.
  • 4. HMC Lindsey, 32; G. G. Walker, Hon. Artillery Co. 92; Trial of Slingsby Bethell (1681); CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 40; 1682, pp. 75, 141; July-Sept. 1683, p. 201; Luttrell, i. 191, 194; Case of Thomas Pilkington (1689); C10/221/55.