1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Suffolk, Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of

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SUFFOLK, THOMAS HOWARD, 1st Earl of (1561–1626), second son of Thomas Howard, 4th duke of Norfolk, was born on the 24th of August 1561. He behaved very gallantly during the attack on the Spanish armada and afterwards took part in other naval expeditions, becoming an admiral in 1599. Created Baron Howard de Walden in 1597 and earl of Suffolk in July 1603, he was lord Chamberlain of the royal household from 1603 to 1614 and lord high treasurer from 1614 to 1618, when he was deprived of his office on a charge of misappropriating money. He was tried in the Star-chamber and was sentenced to pay a heavy fine. Suffolk’s second wife was Catherine (d. 1633), widow of the Hon. Richard Rich, a woman whose avarice was partly responsible for her husband’s downfall. She shared his trial and was certainly guilty of taking bribes from Spain. One of his three daughters was the notorious Frances Howard, who, after obtaining a divorce from her first husband, Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, married Robert Carr, earl of Somerset, and instigated the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury. The earl died on the 28th of May 1626. He built a magnificent residence at Audley End, Essex, which is said to have cost £200,000. One of Suffolk’s seven sons was Sir Robert Howard (1585–1653), who inherited Clun Castle, Shropshire, on the death of his brother, Sir Charles Howard, in 1622. He was twice imprisoned on account of his illicit relations with Frances, Viscountess Purbeck (d. 1645), a daughter of Sir Edward Coke, and after sitting in six parliaments was expelled from the House of Commons for executing the king’s commission of array in 1642. He died on the 22nd of April 1653. Another of Suffolk’s sons, Edward (d. 1675), was created baron Howard of Escrick in 1628. He was one of the twelve peers who signed the petition on grievances, which he presented to Charles I. at York in 1640, and after the abolition of the House of Lords in 1649 he sat in the House of Commons as member for Carlisle, being also a member of the council of state. In 1651 he was expelled from parliament for taking bribes and he died on the 24th of April 1675. His second son, William, 3rd lord Howard of Escrick (c. 1626–1694), was a member of the republican party during the Commonwealth; later he associated himself with the opponents of the arbitrary rule of Charles II., but turning informer he was partly responsible for the conviction of Lord William Russell and of Algernon Sydney in 1683. On the death of William’s son, Charles, the 4th lord, in 1715 the barony of Howard of Escrick became extinct.

Suffolk’s eldest son, Theophilus, 2nd earl of Suffolk (1584–1640), was captain of the band of gentlemen pensioners under James I. and Charles I., and succeeded to the earldom in May 1626, obtaining about the same time some of the numerous offices which had been held by his father, including the lord-lieutenancy of the counties of Suffolk, Cambridge and Dorset. He died on the 3rd of June 1640, when his eldest son James (1619–1689) became 3rd earl. This nobleman, who acted as earl marshal of England at the coronation of Charles II., died in January 1689 when his barony of Howard de Walden fell into abeyance between his two daughters.[1] His earldom, however, passed to his brother George (c. 1625–1691), who became 4th earl of Suffolk. George’s nephew, Henry, the 6th earl (c. 1670–1718), who was president of the board of trade from 1715 to 1718, left an only son, Charles William (1693–1722), who was succeeded in turn by his two uncles, the younger of them, Charles (1675–1733) becoming 9th earl on the death of his brother Edward in June 1731. This earl was the husband of Henrietta countess of Suffolk (c. 1681–1767), the mistress of George II., who was a daughter of Sir Henry Hobart, bart., of Blickling, Norfolk. When still the Hon. Charles Howard, he and his wife made the acquaintance of the future king in Hanover; after the accession of George I. to the English throne in 1714 both husband and wife obtained posts in the household of the prince of Wales, who, when he became king as George II., publicly acknowledged Mrs Howard as his mistress. She was formally separated from her husband before 1731 when she became Countess of Suffolk. The earl died on the 28th of September 1733, but the Countess, having retired from court and married the Hon. George Berkeley (d. 1746), lived until the 26th of July 1767. Among Lady Suffolk’s friends were the poets Pope and Gay and Charles Mordaunt (earl of Peterborough).

A collection of Letters to and from Henrietta Countess of Suffolk, and her Second Husband, the Hon. George Berkeley, was edited by J. W. Croker (1824).

The 9th earl’s only son Henry, the 10th earl (1706–1745), died without sons in April 1745, when his estate at Audley End passed to the descendants of the 3rd earl, being inherited in 1762 by John Griffin Griffin (1719–1797), afterwards Lord Howard de Walden and Lord Braybrooke. As owners of this estate the earls of Suffolk of the Howard line had hitherto been hereditary visitors of Magdalene College, Cambridge, but this office now passed away from them. The earldom of Suffolk was inherited by Henry Bowes Howard, 4th earl of Berkshire (1696–1757), who was the great-grandson of Thomas Howard (c. 1590–1669), the second son of the 1st earl of Suffolk, Thomas having been created earl of Berkshire in 1626. Since 1745 the two earldoms have been united, Henry Molyneux Paget Howard (b. 1877) succeeding his father, Henry Charles (1833–1898), as 19th earl of Suffolk and 12th earl of Berkshire in 1898.

  1. Having thus fallen into abeyance in 1689 the barony of Howard de Walden was revived in 1784 in favour of John Griffin Griffin, afterwards Lord Braybrooke, on whose death in May 1797 it fell again into abeyance. In 1799 the bishop of Derry, Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th earl of Bristol, a descendant of the 3rd earl of Suffolk, became the sole heir to the barony. On Bristol’s death in July 1803 it passed to Charles Augustus Ellis (1799–1868), a grandson of the bishop’s elder son, John Augustus, Lord Hervey (1757–1796), who had predeceased his father. It was thus separated from the marquessate of Bristol, which passed to the bishop’s only surviving son, and it has since been held by the family of Ellis.