Catholic Dukes of Norfolk

(Since the Reformation)

Under this title are accounts only of the prominent Catholic Dukes of Norfolk since the Reformation; a list of the Dukes, from the time the title passed to the Howard family, is prefixed.

  • John (1430-1485), created first duke of the Howard line in 1483, died in battle in 1485.

  • Thomas (1443-1524), son. Became duke in 1514.

  • Thomas (1473-1554), son. Succeeded in 1524.

  • Thomas (1536-1572), grandson. Succeeded in 1554. Beheaded in 1572.

  • Thomas (1627-1677), great-great-grandson. Dukedom restored in 1660.

  • Henry (1628-1684), brother. Succeeded in 1677.

  • Henry (1655-1701), son. Succeeded in 1684.

  • Thomas (1683-1732), nephew. Succeeded in 1601.

  • Edward (1685-1777), brother. Succeeded in 1;732.

  • Charles (1720-1786), descendant of seventh duke. Succeeded in 1777.

  • Charles (1746-1815), son. Succeeded in 1;786.

  • Bernard Edward (1765-1842), third cousin. Succeeded in 1815.

  • Henry Charles (1791-1856), son. Succeeded in 1842.

  • Henry Granville (1815-1860), son. Succeeded in 1856.

  • Henry Fitzalan (1847-), son. Succeeded in 1860.

Thomas, Third Duke of Norfolk

Eldest son of Thomas Howard, the second duke, and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir F. Tilney of Ashwellthorpe Hall, Norfolk. In 1495 he was married to Lady Anne, daughter of Edward IV. He fought as captain of the vanguard at Flodden Field in 1513. In 1514 he was created Earl of Surrey, and joined his father in opposing Wolsey's policy of depressing the old nobility. In 1520-21 he endeavoured to keep peace in Ireland; recalled, he took command of the English fleet against France, and successfully opposed the French in Scotland. In 1524 he became duke, and was appointed commissioner to treat for peace with France. With peace abroad came the burning question of Henry's divorce. Norfolk, uncle of Anne Boleyn, sided with the king and, as president of the privy council, hastened the cardinal's ruin. He became Henry's tool in dishonourable purposes and he acquiesced in his lust for the spiritual supremacy. With Cromwell, he obtained a grant of a portion of the possessions of the Priory of Lewes and other monastic spoils. He was created earl-marshal in 1533. In 1535 Norfolk was a leading judge in the trial of Sir Thomas More. In 1536 he disbanded the "Pilgrimage of Grace" with false assurances, but returned next year to do "dreadful execution". In 1536 he hanged in chains, at York, Fathers Rochester and Walworth, two Carthusians. Drastic measures of devastation marked his whole career as a military leader. He shared the King's zeal against the inroads of German Protestantism. In 1534 he had "staid purgatory" and was always in favour of the old orthodoxy, as far as he might be allowed to support it. In 1539, when the bishops could not agree concerning the practices of religion, Norfolk proposed the Six Articles to the Lords, theology thus becoming matter for the whole House. As an old man he served against a rising in Scotland, and in the French was of 1544. In 1546 he was accused of high treason. Evidence, however, was not conclusive against him until Hertford, and other keen enemies, prevailed upon him, as a prisoner in the Tower, to sign his confession and throw himself on the King's mercy. A bill of attainder was passed in Parliament, and orders for his immediate execution would have been carried into effect had not Henry died on the previous evening. He remained a prisoner in the Tower the whole of Edward VI's reign, but was released on Mary's accession, and restored to the dukedom in 1553.

His long experience as lord high steward and lieutenant-general made him useful to the queen, but he lost favour by his rashness and his failure to crush Wyat's rebellion [See Gairdner, "Lollardy and the Reformation" (London, 1908); Gairdner, "Hist. of Engl. Church in XVIth Century" (London, 1902); "Letters and Papers, Henry VIII", various volumes; Creighton, "Dict. of Nat. Biog.", X (London, 1908).]

Thomas, Fourth Duke of Norfolk

Son of Henry Howard, Earl of Surry and Frances Vere, daughter of John, Earl of Oxford. After the execution of his father, in 1547, he was, by order of privy council, committed to the charge of his aunt, and Foxe, "the martyrologist", was assigned as his tutor, probably to educate him in Protestant principles. In 1553, when Mary released his grandfather from prison, Bishop White of Lincoln became his tutor. Thomas succeeded his grandfather, as duke, in 1554, and became earl-marshal. He married, in 1556, Lady Mary Fitzalan, daughter of Henry, twelfth Earl of Arundel; in 1558, Margaret, daughter of Thomas Lord Audley of Walden; and, in 1567, Elizabeth, widow of Thomas Dacre of Gilsland, who had three daughters. By obtaining a grant of their wardship and intermarrying with them his own three sons, the issue of former marriages, he absorbed the great estates of the Dacre family. In 1568, he was again a widower, the only English duke, the wealthiest man in England, popular and ambitious. Elizabeth was eager to win one of Norfolk's position and he was given a part in the expulsion of the French troops from Scotland. With other commissioners, he was appointed to sit at York and inquire into the causes of the variance between Mary Stuart and her subjects. Circumstances, at the beginning of 1569, combined to awaken the fears of English nobles, and Arundel, Pembroke, Leicester, and others saw the advantage to be gained by the marriage, first suggested by Maitland, between Norfolk and Mary; that when married she might be safely restored to the Scottish throne and be recognized as Elizabeth's successor. Protestant nobles, however, looked on the affair with suspicion, and Catholic lords in the north were impatient of long delay. But, even after the council had voted her the settlement of the English succession by Mary's marriage with an English noble, Norfolk proceeded with great caution, withdrew from court, aroused Elizabeth's suspicion and was committed to the Tower, in October, 1569. On his abject submission to the queen and renunciation of all purpose of his alliance with Mary, he was released in 1560. He did not keep his promise; he continued to correspond with the Queen of Scots, was found to be in negotiation with Ridolfi, and through him with Philip and the Catholic Powers abroad, concerning an invasion of England. He was arraigned for high treason in 1571. After eighteen weeks' confinement in the Tower, deprived of books, informed of the trial only on the previous evening, kept in ignorance of the charges until he heard the indictment at the bar, and refused the aid of counsel to suggest advice, on the evidence of letters and extorted confessions from others, he was condemned to death by the Earl of Shrewsbury, the Lord High Steward, and twenty-six peers as assessors (judges, all selected by the queen's ministers and many of them his known enemies). After much hesitation on the part of Elizabeth and a petition from Parliament, on 2 June, 1572, he was executed. His sympathy seemed to be always with the Catholic party, but his policy was two-faced, and he was a professed adherent of the Reformed religion. Circumstances made it expedient for him always to temporize. He seems to have been led on by the course of events and not to have realized the result of his actions. [See State Trials, I (London, 1776), 82; Froude,"Hist. of Eng.", IV (London, 1866), XX; Labanoff, "Lettres, etc. de Marie Stuart" (1844), earlier ed. tr. (1842); Anderson, "Collections relating to Mary" (Edinburgh, 1727); Creighton in "Dict. of Nat. Biog.", X (London, 1908).]

Henry, Sixth Duke of Norfolk

Second son of Henry Frederick Howard, third Earl of Arundel and Lady Elizabeth Stuart, was educated abroad, as a Catholic. In 1660 he went as ambassador extraordinary to Morocco. In 1677 he succeeded his brother as duke, having previously been made hereditary earl-marshal. During the Commonwealth and Protectorate he lived in total seclusion. In January, 1678, he took his seat in the House of Lords, but in August the first development of the Titus Oates Plot was followed by an Act for disabling Catholics from sitting in either house of Parliament. He would not comply with the oath and, suspected of doubtful loyalty, withdrew to Bruges for three years. There he built a house attached to a Franciscan convent and enjoyed freedom of worship and scope for his munificence. He was a man of benevolent disposition and gave away the greater part of his splendid library, and grounds and rooms to the Royal Society, and the Arundelian marbles to Oxford University. Jealous of the family honour, he compounded a debt of £200,000 contracted by his grandfather. [See Evelyn's "Miscellaneous Writings" (London, 1825).]

Henry, Seventh Duke of Norfolk

Son of Henry, sixth Duke, and Lady Anne Somerset, was at first a good Catholic and for four months held out against subscribing to the oath as a peer in the House of Lords. Afterwards he became a pervert.

Thomas, Eighth Duke of Norfolk

Brought up a Catholic but perverted on succeeding to the dukedom.

Edward, Ninth Duke of Norfolk

Did much to promote a more liberal treatment of Catholics by offering a home at Norfolk House to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his wife at the time of the birth of their son, afterwards George III.

Charles, Eleventh Duke of Norfolk

Educated at the English College at Douai; was a man of dissolute life and had conformed to the State religion by 1780.

Bernard Edward, Twelfth Duke of Norfolk

Eldest son of Henry Howard of Glosson, and Juliana, daughter of Sir William Molyneux of Willow, Nottinghamshire. In 1789 he married Elizabeth Bellasis, daughter of Henry, Earl of Fauconberg, but was divorced, by Act of Parliament, in 1794. On the death of his third cousin, in 1815, he succeeded to the dukedom. Although a Catholic, he was allowed, by Act of Parliament in 1824, to exercise the hereditary office of earl-marshal. After the Rebel Bill of 1829 he was admitted to the full exercise of his ancestral privileges; he took his seat in the House of Lords, where he was a steady supporter of the Reform Bill, and in 1830 was nominated as privy councillor. [See Gent. Mag., I (1842), 542.]

Henry Charles, Thirteenth Duke of Norfolk

Only son of Bernard Edward and Elizabeth Bellasis. He was baptized a Catholic but did not practise his religion. In 1814 he married Lady Charlotte Leveson-Gower, daughter of George, Duke of Sutherland, and in 1815 he became, as heir, Earl of Arundel and Surrey. In 1829, after the Catholic Emancipation Act, he took the oath and his seat in the House of Commons (the first Catholic since the Reformation). In 1841 he sat in the House of Lords. In politics he was a stanch member of the Whig party. In 1842 he succeeded his father as Duke of Norfolk. He died at Arundel in 1856. Canon Tierney was chaplain at the time fo his death. [See London Times (19 Feb., 1856); Gent. Mag. (April, 1856), 419.]

Henry Granville Fitzalan, Fourteenth Duke of Norfolk

Eldest son of Henry Charles Howard and Charlotte, daughter of the Duke of Sutherland, was educated privately, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He entered the army but retired on attaining the rank of captain. In 1839 he married the daughter of Admiral Sir Edmund (afterwards Lord) Lyons, the ambassador at Athens. From 1837 to 1842 he was a member of the House of Commons, a Whig, until he broke with his party on the introduction of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill of 1850. In 1856, as Duke of Norfolk, he took his seat in the House of Lords. In 1839 he attended the services of Notre-Dame in Paris and made the acquaintance of Montalembert. This resulted in his conversion to Catholicism, and Montalembert describes him as "the most pious layman of our times". Cardinal Wiseman, in a pastoral letter, at the time of his death in 1860, referred to his benevolent nature: "There is not a form of want or a peculiar application of alms which has not received his relief or co-operation". He wrote: "Collections relative to Catholic Poor Schools throughout England", MS. folio, 134 pp., 1843; "A few Remarks on the Social and Political Condition of British Catholics" (London, 1847); Letter to J. P. Plumptre on the Bull "In Cœ;na Domini" (London, 1848); "Observations on Diplomatic Relations with Rome" 1848. He edited from original MSS. the "Lives of Philip Howard and Ann Dacres" (London, 1857 and 1861). [See "Gent. Mag." (Jan., 1861); "London Times" (27 Nov. and 4 Dec., 1860); "London Table" (1 Dec., 1860); H. W. Freeland, "Remarks on the Letters of the Duke of Norfolk" (1874); Montalembert, "Le Correspondant" (25 Dec., 1860), 766-776, tr. by Goddard at the end of his Montalembert, "Pius IX and France" (Boston, Mass., 1861).]

Tierney, Castle and Antiquities of Arundel (London, 1834); Howard, Memorials of the Howards (Corby Castle, 1834); Gillow, Biog. Dict. of Engl. Catholics (London, 1885-1902); Lingard, History of England (London, 1855); Dict. Nat. Biog. (London, 1908), s. v. Howard.

S. Anselm Parker.

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