St. Lawrence, Nicholas (DNB00)

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ST. LAWRENCE, NICHOLAS, sixteenth, or more properly fourth, Baron Howth (d. 1526), son of Robert, fifteenth baron [q. v.], and of Joan, daughter of Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset, and great-uncle of Henry VII, succeeded to the barony on the death of his father in 1483. Unlike the majority of the English in Ireland, Nicholas was a staunch Lancastrian. When Lambert Simnel [q. v.], in 1486, personated the Earl of Warwick, Howth not only refused to recognise his claims, but apprised Henry VII of his designs. At the close of the rebellion, after the battle of Stoke, Henry summoned Nicholas with the rest of the Irish nobility to London, and rewarded him by presenting him with three hundred pieces of gold, and by confirming the lands of Howth to him by charter.

Howth attended the parliaments held at Dublin in 1490 and in 1493. In 1504 he attended Lord Kildare on an expedition to repel an Irish invasion of the Pale. On arriving at Cnoctuagh in Connaught, they found the natives gathered before them in great force. Lord Gormanston and some of the leaders were in favour of retreating, or at least of trying to negotiate with an enemy so superior. But Howth was for an immediate engagement, and led the bill-men to the attack on foot. The result of the conflict justified his counsel, for the English were completely victorious. In 1509 Howth was created lord chancellor of Ireland, and retained that office till 1513. Although he did not agree with the lord deputy (Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare [q. v.]) on the justice of Lambert Simnel's claims, yet in later times he became a devoted partisan of the deputy, and went so far as to defy the Earl of Ormonde to mortal combat for speaking ill of Kildare (Book of Howth, p. 176). After Kildare's death in 1513 the opposite faction obtained the dismissal of Howth from the council (ib. 191). From this time he remained in obscurity. He died on 10 July 1526, and was buried in the family sepulchre at Howth.

He was thrice married: first, to Genet, only daughter of Christopher Plunket, third lord Killeen, by whom he had a son Christopher, who succeeded him as seventeenth Baron Howth, and was father of Sir Christopher, twentieth baron Howth [q. v.], and four daughters, Alison, Elizabeth, Ellenor, and Anne. He married, secondly, Anne, daughter of Thomas Birford of Kilrow, co. Meath, by whom he had two sons, Amorey and Robert, and one daughter, Katherine. His third wife was Alison, daughter of Robert Fitzsimons, by whom he had a son and a daughter, William and Marian.

[Letters and Papers of Henry VII (Rolls Ser.), i. 379, ii. 307, 370; G. E. C.'s Peerage, iv. 272; Lodge's Irish Peerage, ed. Archdall, iii. 189; Harleian MS. 1425, f. 104; O'Flanagan's Lord Chancellors of Ireland.]

E. I. C.