the siege of Kinsale he and the Earl of Clanricarde were stationed to the west of the town in order to prevent a junction between the Spaniards and O'Donnell. On the submission of Hugh, earl of Tyrone, his company was reduced, and in February 1605 he ventured to solicit the king for ‘some mark of his gracious and liberal recognition of past services.’
His appeal met with no response, and, having about this time separated from his wife, he made preparations for realising his property with the intention of seeking his fortunes abroad. Chichester, who evidently felt that he had not been treated according to his deserts, wrote strongly in his favour to Salisbury, emphasising the fact of his being a protestant, and insisting that he should not quit the kingdom without permission. Nothing, however, was done for him, and in July 1606, having obtained the king's consent to go abroad, he entered the service of the archduke. His example proved contagious, and in January 1607 Chichester wrote that so many of the Irish gentry were preparing to leave the country that he thought it would be for the public service if he could be induced to return. But his father's death early in May relieved the deputy from further anxiety on that point, and in June St. Lawrence returned to Ireland. Meanwhile, however, he had become mixed up in an obscure conspiracy for subverting the government of Ireland, in which several noblemen, including, it was said, the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel and Lord Delvin, were implicated. Now whether the prospect of returning to Ireland in a position more suited to his ambition, or the dread of the consequences of discovery, induced him to inform the government, Howth, on his way through England, revealed some part of the conspiracy to the privy council. His information was regarded with suspicion, and the work of sifting him was transferred to Chichester.
Arrived in Dublin, ‘A. B.’ (the initials under which Howth concealed his identity) was secretly examined by the lord deputy; but his story, resting solely on his own authority, seemed so improbable that the deputy was inclined to treat it as a fiction of a disordered mind, when the sudden and unexpected flight of the northern earls, owing doubtless to a rumour of treachery, caused him to view the matter in another light. Howth, who was himself apparently meditating flight, was, in consequence of directions from the privy council, arrested, along with Lord Delvin [see Nugent, Sir Richard, first Earl of Westmeath], and confined to the castle. Delvin shortly afterwards managed to escape; and, in order to avoid another mishap, Howth was in December sent to London in charge of Sir John Jephson, Chichester remarking that during his imprisonment in the castle he had ‘carried himself in his accustomed half-witted fashion.’ He was examined before the privy council, and ‘no cause of exception to his loyalty’ having been found, he was allowed to return to Ireland in March 1608. Meanwhile his secret had leaked out, so that he went about in constant fear of his life, distrusting his most intimate acquaintances. Even those who could hardly be suspected of sympathising with any attempt to upset the government looked askance at him and spoke contemptuously of him. The remarks of Sir Garret Moore [q. v.] galled him particularly; and, in revenge, Howth preferred a charge against Moore of complicity in the conspiracy, to which Moore's well-known intimacy with the Earl of Tyrone lent plausibility. But, meeting with little encouragement from Chichester, Howth repaired to England, and was so far successful that on his return to Ireland in June the deputy was ordered to assign him a company of 150 soldiers; and for his encouragement, as ‘having raised himself adversaries for doing service for the king,’ to give him the support that he required. Being called upon to make good his charge of treason against Sir Garret Moore, he refused to open his case before the Irish council on the ground of its partiality towards Moore, and in February 1609 repaired to England. This time he obtained a letter from the king testifying to his loyalty, exonerating him ‘in verbo regis’ of having in his disclosures compromised Lord Delvin, ‘of whose safety he had been more careful than of his own,’ and recommending him for employment ‘in any fitting service which may fall out.’ But the letter unfortunately did him more harm than good, being, as he dolefully expressed it to the king, ‘rather construed disgraceful than of favour or protection for him,’ and he implored to be allowed to quit Ireland and fix his residence in England.
This time it was Sir Roger Jones who had offended him, by speaking of him as ‘a brave man among cowards;’ and one day when Jones and some friends were playing tennis together in a court in Thomas Street, he repaired thither ‘with some ten or twelve persons in his company and a cudgel in his hand with purpose to have cudgelled him.’ Jones's friends interfered, and in the fray one of his retainers was killed.