Howard, William (1626?-1694) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28
Howard, William (1626?-1694)

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Work attributed by Fenwick to Thomas Seccombe

HOWARD, WILLIAM, third Lord Howard of Escrick (1626?–1694), second son of Edward, first lord [q. v.], matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1646, and afterwards went to an inn of court (Clarendon, iii. 634). In 1653 he was a soldier in Cromwell's life-guards, and a ‘great preacher’ of the anabaptists (Thurloe, v. 393), but his views were republican, and he took part in the plots of 1655-6 (Clarendon, iii. 634). Committed to the Fleet in 1657, he successfully petitioned Richard Cromwell for release in 1658 (Addit. MS. 5716, f. 15). In 1660 Hyde described him as anxious to serve the king, likely to be useful among the sectaries, and surprisingly well acquainted with recent royalist negotiations (Clar. State Papers, iii. 658). He sat for Winchelsea in the convention parliament, but in 1674 was discovered in secret correspondence with Holland, spent several months in the Tower, and was only set free on making a full confession (Letters to Sir J. Williamson, Camd. Soc. ii. 31). Succeeding his brother as Lord Howard in 1678, he sat on the lords' committees which credited Oates's information, and furthered the trial of his kinsman, Lord Stafford. In 1681 he was again sent to the Tower on the false charge preferred by Edward Fitzharris [q. v.] of writing the ‘True Englishman.’ Algernon Sidney's influence procured his release (February 1682) and his admission to the counsels of the opposition. He was arrested on the first rumours of the Rye House plot, and, turning informer at Russell's trial (July 1683), gave accounts of meetings at Hampden's and Russell's houses, which mainly led to Russell's conviction. His evidence similarly ruined Sidney (Evelyn, ii. 190). He was pardoned, and died in obscurity at York in April 1694. Howard was very keen-witted (Clarendon), and ‘a man of pleasant conversation,’ but ‘railed indecently,’ says Burnet, ‘both at the king and clergy.’ By his wife Frances, daughter of Sir James, and niece of Sir Orlando Bridgman, he had six children, including Charles, fourth baron, on whose death in 1715 the title became extinct.

[Masters's Corpus Christi Coll. Cambridge; Causton's Howard Papers, pp. 656-8; Dalrymple's Memoirs, i. 19, 25; Wiffen's Russell Memoirs; Grey's Rye House Plot, 1685; Lingard's Hist. x. 33; Luttrell's Relation; Burnet's History; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. xii. 109.]