HOWE, Sir James, 2nd Bt. (c.1669-1736), of Berwick St. Leonard, nr. Hindon, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1669, 1st s. of Sir George Grobham Howe, 1st Bt.†, of Berwick St. Leonard by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Harbottle Grimston, 2nd Bt.†, of Bradfield, Essex. m. (1) lic. 2 Oct. 1689, Elizabeth (d. 1691), da. of Edward Nutt of Nackington, Kent, s.p.; (2) 2 Aug. 1694 (with £6,000), Elizabeth da. of Henry Stratford of Halling, Glos. s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 26 Sept. 1676.1
Howe’s great-grandfather was a minor Somerset gentleman from whom, in addition to his own line, were descended the Grobham Howes of Great Wishford in Wiltshire and the Howes of Langar in Nottinghamshire. Through this forebear’s marriage to the Grobham heiress, the family had come into possession of Berwick St. Leonard, a mile from the borough of Hindon. Howe was still a minor when his father died in 1676, and for some time thereafter the family’s interest in the borough lapsed. It was not until a by-election at the borough in December 1697 that Howe was able to compete effectively against other local interests. After considerable expenditure on ‘treats’, initially to secure his own election, he withdrew at the last moment, putting forward his brother-in-law, Henry Lee*, who after a contest was returned.
At the 1698 general election, Lee was returned for Canterbury and Howe came in for one of the Hindon seats. A Tory, he was classed as a member of the Country party in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments and was also noted as a likely opponent of a standing army. Even so, his supposed adherence to Country principles was rendered somewhat doubtful by his vote against the disbanding bill on 18 Jan. 1699. He was an inactive Member who was occasionally accorded nomination to inquiry or address committees during 1700–1, but even this trend ceased thereafter. At the end of the 1701 Parliament, he was blacklisted as an opponent of the preparations for war, though his name appeared in a rejoinder with other Tory Members. Howe chose not to stand in November 1701, but was re-elected in 1702. He voted for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704, having the previous month been forecast as a probable opponent, though this may have been as a result of confusion with one of the other Howes. In proceedings on 23 Feb. 1705 concerning the bill prohibiting trade with France he acted as teller in favour of allowing imports of French wines purchased at locations still at peace with Britain. In April he was one of a number of Tory MPs whose names were communicated to the Duke of Argyll as being engaged, allegedly, in a ‘design’ to restore the Pretender to the throne, but this incongruous suggestion of Jacobite leanings is not supported by other evidence.2
Howe lost his seat in the 1705 election, and his success in 1708 proved shortlived as he was unseated on petition in February 1709. He made no attempts to re-enter Parliament, though he was instrumental in getting his nephew and heir Henry Lee Warner returned for the borough in the by-election of 1711. He died on 19 Jan. 1736 aged 66, and was buried at Berwick St. Leonard. In addition to his Wiltshire estate, he left Warner his two manors in Somerset.3