Select Howard Miscellany

Here are some Howard stories and accounts over the years:

Howard Beginnings

The Howard line was begun by Sir William Howard, the Chief Justice of Common Pleas in the reign of King Edward I.  Sir William is first recorded in 1277 when he bought land at East Winch in Norfolk.   From 1285 he was council to the corporation of Kings Lynn.  

In 1298 he purchased a manor house and methodically built up his holding in the parish by purchase, acre by acre.  He also added to his possessions by marriage, both his wives being heiresses.  Sir William died in 1308 leaving his family firmly established.  

His eldest son Sir John Howard was the grandfather of the first Duke of Norfolk.

Belted Will and Castle Howard

The earliest name by which Castle Howard in north Yorkshire was known seems to have been Henderskelfe, meaning “Hundred Hill.”  This old castle was built in the 14th century and later passed into the Dacre family. 

The estate then fell into the Howard hands in 1566 when Thomas Howard, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, married Dacre’s widow Elizabeth.   However, his Catholic plotting on behalf of Mary, Queen of Scots at this time brought him into a collision course with the English Crown and he was executed for treason in 1572. 

His third son William, who came to be known as "Belted Will," married step-sister Elizabeth Dacre in 1577. They had married very young and, for a long period of their early married life, they had a turbulent time. During the remainder of Elizabeth’s reign, the Catholic William and his brother Arundel were continually subject to charges of treason.  They never received any public employment and were kept in a state of poverty. 

However, when James I came to the throne in 1603, their prospects brightened.  William received the appointment of Lord Warden of the Marches, an important and responsible position given the strife that continued to exist on the English/Scottish border.  He was rigorous in the discharge of these duties.  It was his boast that the "rush-bush should guard the cow" and he saw to this by sending his prisoners straight to Carlisle and the hangman there.  

This Howard line was back in favor and they later became the Earls of Carlisle.  When the ancient castle of Henderskelfe burned down in the late 1600’s, a new and resplendent building, Castle Howard, was raised on its site.

Howards in Lancashire

The 1881 British Census showed 29,400 Howards, of which 6,640 or 23% resided in Lancashire.  The leading parishes with Howards there were:  
  • North Meols near Southport with 515 Howards   
  • and Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester with 401 Howards.   
Each of these parishes had had a long history of Howards.

John Howard's Letter in Bridgewater

In 1645 John Howard’s name appeared as one of the 54 original proprietors of the grant of land afterward known as Bridgewater.  In 1656 he was one of the two surveyors of highways for this town. 

In 1652 he was thought to have received the following letter from his mother back in England.  She spelled her name Hayward, as her son had done before he had embarked for the New World in 1635. 

“London, August 16, 1652.  

Loving Son,   

Having a fit opportunity by a friend to send to you, I could not, out of my motherly care to you and your brother, do less than write these few lines to you to certify you that both I and your sister are in good health, praise be to God, and that I earnestly desire to hear from you both, how you do and how and in what condition you are both.  

Your sister desires to be remembered to you both and she and I have sent you some small tokens of our love for you. I have sent George three bands and a handkerchief and a handkerchief to yourself.  And I have sent you a shilling to pay for the writing of a letter, if by long silence you have forgotten.  

I wonder, son, you should have so forgotten your mother whose welfare she tended to more than anything in the world.  Your sister has sent you a book of your father's and a bible for George.  Did we conceive that you were alive, we would have sent you better tokens.  

Child, with my blessing to you both, desiring to hear from you and whether you ever intend for England, and how your cousin Sarah is doing, with my daily prayer to the Lord for you, I rest.   

Your Loving Mother,  
Mary Hayward

Francis Key Howard in Prison

Francis Key Howard was the grandson of John Eager Howard, the Revolutionary War colonel and Governor and Senator for Maryland, and Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the lyrics to America’s national anthem The Star-Spangled Banner. 

He became embroiled in Civil War politics.   He was the editor of the Baltimore Exchange, a Baltimore newspaper that was sympathetic to the Southern cause (Maryland at that time was a swing state in the conflict).  His editorials incurred the wrath of President Lincoln and he was arrested and imprisoned at the outbreak of the War.  

He later wrote an embittered piece about his experiences as a political prisoner: 

"When I looked out in the morning, I could not help being struck by an odd and not pleasant coincidence.

On that day forty-seven years before my grandfather, Mr. Francis Scott Key, then prisoner on a British ship, had witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. When on the following morning the hostile fleet drew off, defeated, he wrote the song so long popular throughout the country, the Star Spangled Banner. 

As I stood upon the very scene of that conflict, I could not but contrast my position with his, forty-seven years before. The flag which he had then so proudly hailed, I saw waving at the same place over the victims of as vulgar and brutal a despotism as modern times have witnessed."

The Howards in World War One

Two Aussie Howards, father and son, enlisted in the Great War and fought their war on the Western Front.

In 1914 Walter Howard had joined as a private at the age of 44 in the 55th Battalion of the 5th Division.  His son Lyall signed up in 1916 at the age of 19 and was assigned to the 3rd Pioneer Battalion.  In an extraordinary situation of chance during the mass movement of troops near Cléry in 1918, the paths of father and son crossed. Against the odds, Walter and Lyall met on the eve of the Battle of Mont St. Quentin in what has been described as a one-in-a-million handshake on the battle zone.  

Lyall kept a war diary and his entries were picked up in Les Carlyon’s book The Great War.  These entries were always brief: "shoved in old barn," and "inoculated again," and "first day in trenches."  One laconic entry underscored the horrors the soldiers faced: "Will wounded and dies."   Will was Lyall's best friend.

Walter received bullet wounds to his leg and abdomen in 1918 and was lucky to survive.  Lyall endured a mustard gas attack and spent ten weeks in hospital.  The gassing caused him chronic bronchitis and skin rashes which would continue to plague him after the war.  In fact memories of the war stayed with him long after the war was over.

His son John Howard, who was born in 1939 and rose to become Australia’s Prime Minister, spoke about his war-time memories:

"There's just this pithy or laconic entry in his diary. It's just so Australian - 'Met dad at Clery.' They didn't verbalize their experience in the way men do now. It's one of the big changes in Aussie blokes. I think it's a good thing. They don't bottle it all up, but they did in those days."

Return to Top of Page
Return to Howard Main Page