Howe, John (1754-1804) (DNB00)

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HOWE, JOHN, fourth Lord Chedworth (1754–1804), born 22 Aug. 1754, was son of Thomas Howe (d. 1776), rector of Great Wishford and Kingston Deverill, Wiltshire. His mother was Frances, daughter of Thomas White of Tattingstone, near Ipswich, Suffolk. His paternal grandfather, John Howe, had been raised to the peerage in 1741 as Baron Chedworth of Chedworth, Gloucestershire. Howe was educated first at Harrow, where he gave early proof of his lifelong predilections for the stage and the turf. He matriculated at Queen's College, Oxford, on 29 Oct. 1772, but left without a degree after three years' residence, and took up his abode at his mother's house at Ipswich. His mother died in 1778. In 1781 he succeeded his uncle, Henry Frederick Howe, third baron Chedworth, in his title and estates, but he continued to live in comparative seclusion, and seldom visited his large landed properties in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. Late in life he lived in the house of a surgeon named Penrice at Yarmouth, and devoted himself to a study of Shakespeare. He died unmarried on 29 Oct. 1804, and the barony became extinct. He was buried, as he had directed, beside his mother in St. Matthew's churchyard, Ipswich, on the fifth day after his death. The inscription on his monument in St. Matthew's Church describes him as a man of unusually cultivated tastes and of whig sympathies.

He neglected his relatives in his will, and left much to his friend Penrice, the Yarmouth surgeon with whom he resided. Charles James Fox, 'the illustrious statesman and true patriot,' received a legacy of 3,000l.; many theatrical and other friends were liberally remembered; and large legacies were left to his executors and trustees, by whom the Howe estates in Gloucestershire were divided and sold in 1811 for 268,635l. Chedworth's relatives unsuccessfully disputed his will on the ground of insanity. To prove his sanity, Penrice edited for publication Chedworth's 'Notes upon some of the Obscure Passages in Shakespeare's Plays; with Remarks upon the Explanations and Amendments of the Commentators in the Editions of 1785, 1790, 1793,' London, 1805 (Martin, Bibliographical Catalogue of Books Privately Printed, London, 1834, p. 100).

Chedworth published in his lifetime two pamphlets, respectively entitled 'Two Actions between John Howe, Esq., and G. L. Dive, Esq., tried by a Special Jury before Lord Mansfield at the Assizes holden at Croydon, August 1781,' 2nd edit., London, 1781; and 'A Charge delivered to the Grand Jury at the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County of Suffolk,' Ipswich [1793]. Many years after Chedworth's death a friend, Thomas Crompton, published 'Letters from the late Lord Chedworth to the Rev. Thomas Crompton, written from January 1780 to May 1795,' London, 1828.

[Gent. Mag. 1804, lxxiv. 1242-4, 1806, lxxvi. 672, 1030-2, 1201-7, 1811, vol.lxxxi. pt,ii.p.80; Gloucestershire Notes and Queries,i.393; Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerages, 1883, p.288; Haslewood's Monumental Inscriptions in the Parish of St. Matthew, Ipswich, pp.16, 273; Burial Register of St. Matthew's, Ipswich; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books; Gael's paper on Stowell House and Park in the Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archæological Society, 1877-8, ii. 47-52.]

B. H. B.