Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Howard, George (1720?-1796)

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HOWARD, Sir GEORGE (1720?–1796), field-marshal, was son of Lieutenant-general Thomas Howard. His father, nephew of Francis, lord Howard of Effingham (see Collins, Peerage, vol. iv.), entered the army in 1703; was taken prisoner at Almanza in 1707; was detained two years in France; became lieutenant-colonel of the 24th foot under Marlborough; was dismissed for his political opinions; was reinstated by George I; purchased the colonelcy of the 24th foot in 1717; became colonel 3rd buffs in 1737; was a lieutenant-general at Dettingen; and died in Sackville Street, London, 31 March 1753, leaving by his wife Mary, only daughter of Dr. Morton, bishop of Meath, a family including four sons.

George Howard obtained his first commission in his father's regiment in Ireland in 1725, and rose to the lieutenant-colonelcy 3rd buffs 2 April 1744. He commanded the buffs at the battles of Fontenoy, Falkirk, and Culloden. Chambers says that he merited ‘everlasting execration’ by his treatment of those to whom Lord Loudoun had promised indemnity after Culloden (Hist. Rebellion in Scotland, 1745–6, rev. ed. p. 328). On another page, speaking of a wager with General Henry Hanley, Chambers confuses him with Major-general (Sir) Charles Howard [q. v.] . Howard commanded the buffs at the battle of Val, and in the Rochfort expedition ten years later. He succeeded his father as colonel of the regiment 21 Aug. 1749. He appears to have been on the home staff, under Sir John Ligonier, during the earlier part of the seven years' war. He commanded a brigade under Lord Granby in Germany in 1760–2, at Warburg, the relief of Wesel, and elsewhere. He was deputed by the Duke of Newcastle in May 1762 to confer with Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick concerning the expenses of the allied troops (Addit. MS. 32938, f. 255), and signed the convention of Bruncker Muhl with the French general Guerchy in the September following. In some accounts he is again confused with Sir Charles Howard, who was senior to Granby, and was not employed in Germany. He was made K.B. and transferred to the colonelcy 7th dragoons in 1763. He was governor of Minorca in 1766–8; and sat in parliament for Lostwithiel in 1762–6, and for Stamford from 1768 until his death. Wraxall states (Memoirs, iii. 202) that in 1784, when General Henry Seymour Conway [q.v.] resigned the office of commander-in-chief with a seat in the cabinet (to which he had been appointed under the Rockingham administration), George Howard was appointed to succeed him, but neither Howard nor the Duke of Richmond, who went to the ordnance at the same time, had seats in Pitt's new cabinet. Howard's appointment, if made, was never publicly recognised, the office of commander-in-chief remaining in abeyance until the reappointment, in 1794, of Jeffrey Amherst, lord Amherst [q. v.], the adjutant-general, William Fawcett [q. v.], being in the meantime the ostensible head of the army-staff under the king. Wraxall describes Howard as ‘a man of stature and proportions largely exceeding the ordinary size ... an accomplished courtier and a gallant soldier,' and adds that in the house he was understood to be the mouthpiece of the king's personal opinions (Memoirs, ut supra). Howard had wealth and a more than ordinary share of public honours and preferment. Besides his general's pay, his red ribbon and the colonelcy of the 1st or king's dragoon guards, to which he was transferred in 1779, he was a privy councillor, an honorary D.C.L. Oxon. (7 July 1773), and was governor of both Chelsea Hospital and of Jersey at one time. He was advanced to the rank of field-marshal in 1793. He died at his residence in Grosvenor Square, London, 16 July 1796.

Howard married, first, Lady Lucy Wentworth, sister of the Earl of Sheffield, who died in 1771 leaving issue; secondly, Elizabeth, widow of the second Earl of Effingham.

[Collins's Peerage, 1812 ed., vol. iv., under 'Effingham;' Cannon's Hist. Rec. 3rd Buffs; Cal. State Papers, Home Office, 1766-9, under 'Howard, George;' Ann. Reg. 1760-2; Gent. Mag. 1796, pt. ii. p. 621; Howard's Corresp. with the Duke of Newcastle is in Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 32852 f. 373, 32935 f. 176, 32937 f. 457, 32938 ff. 255, 293, a letter to Lord Granby in 1760 is in 32911, f. 425, and one to Sir J. Yorke in 1762, 32940, f. 126. Memorials of a namesake, a certain Lieutenant-colonel George Howard, a veteran officer of the 3rd foot-guards, dated about 1740, are in the same collection.]

H. M. C.