Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham

Is your surname Howard?

Research the Howard family

Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


About Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham

Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham

Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham (1536 – 14 December 1624), known as Howard of Effingham, was an English statesman and Lord High Admiral under Elizabeth I and James I. He was commander of the English forces during the battles against the Spanish Armada and was chiefly responsible after Francis Drake for the victory that saved England from invasion by the Spanish Empire.

Few details of Charles Howard's early life are known. He was born in 1536, and was the cousin of Queen Elizabeth. He was son of William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham (c. 1510 – 1573) and Margaret Gamage (d. 18 May 1581), daughter of Sir Thomas Gamage.[1] He was a grandson of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. He was also the cousin of Anne Boleyn (Anne's mother was half-sister to Charles' father), and held several prominent posts during the reign of Anne's daughter, Elizabeth I.

It is believed that Charles Howard was taught French and a bit of Latin at the house of his uncle, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. He was also educated in penmanship, chivalric exercises, and some legal traditions. He served as a page to his cousin Thomas who later became the 4th Duke of Norfolk. He also fished and hunted fervently throughout his life.[2]

Howard served at sea under his father's command as a youth.

In 1552, he was sent to France to become well-educated in the French language, but was soon brought back to England at the request of his father because of questionable or unexpected treatment.[3]

Howard went to the peace negotiations between England and France which led to the Treaty of Câteau-Cambrésis of 1559. He personally informed Elizabeth of its ratification.[1]

He served as Ambassador to France in 1559. In December of 1562, he became the keeper of the Queen's house and park at Oatlands. In his early years at court he and five other gentlemen bore the canopy of state when Queen Elizabeth opened her second Parliament on 11 January 1563, and he is recorded as having been a regular participant in jousts and tournaments, but despite his relationship to the Queen it is said that it took some time before he was able to gain any personal benefit from his situation.[4] Howard was also a member of the House of Commons, yet he was not as distinguished as many others have been. He represented Surrey in Parliament in 1563 and again in 1572.

In 1564 he became a member of Gray's Inn, and received his Master of Arts at Cambridge in 1571. This was not because he had any legal ambitions, but because it was the normal thing for men of his status to do.[4]

He served as General of the Horse in 1569 and suppressed a Catholic rebellion in northern England. He commanded a squadron of ships escorting the Queen of Spain on a state visit in 1570.[5]

Howard was knighted in 1572 and became Lord Howard of Effingham following his father's death in 1573. From 1576–1603 he was patron of a playing company, Nottingham's Men, later called the Admiral's Men.

On 3 April 1575 Howard was elected to the Order of the Garter to replace his cousin, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, who had been executed in 1572. He was installed at Windsor on 8 May 1575.[6]

Howard was named Lord High Admiral in 1585. The French ambassador wrote to Sir Francis Walsingham, saying Elizabeth's appointment of Howard was "a choice worthy of her virtue and prudence and very necessary for the Admiralty. I pray you tell her that the King [of France] has written to me by an express to thank her for having elected so good an admiral, from whom he hopes great things for the peace of his subjects".[7]

.... etc.

Howard died in 1624 at the age of 88. None of his three sons left heirs, and shortly after the last died the Nottingham earldom was recreated for a close relative of the Earl of Winchilsea; the Howard of Effingham barony passed to descendants of his brother, the Earl of Effingham being the modern heir.

.... etc.

He was married first to Catherine Carey, daughter of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon and Ann Morgan. They had five children:

  • Frances Howard (buried 11 July 1628). She was married first to Henry FitzGerald, 12th Earl of Kildare. She was secondly married to Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham.
  • William Howard, 3rd Baron Howard of Effingham (27 December 1577 – 28 November 1615). Summoned to the Lords as 3rd Baron Howard of Effingham. He was married on 7 February 1596/1597 to Anne St John.
  • Charles Howard, 2nd Earl of Nottingham (17 September 1579 – 3 October 1642). He was married first on 19 May 1597 to Charity White (d. 18 December 1618), daughter to Robert White. Secondly on 22 April 1620 to Mary Cokayne, daughter of Sir William Cokayne who served as Lord Mayor of London in 1619 and Mary Morris.
  • Margaret Howard, married in 1587 Sir Richard Leveson, no issue.
  • Elizabeth Howard (buried 31 March 1646). Maid of honour to Elizabeth I of England. She was married first to Sir Robert Southwell. One of their daughters, Elizabeth, was a lover and eventually a third wife of Robert Dudley (explorer). Another daughter, Frances, married Edward Rodney. Elizabeth Howard was secondly married to John Stewart, 1st Earl of Carrick.

He was married secondly to Margaret Stuart, daughter of James Stuart, 2nd Earl of Moray and Elizabeth Stuart, 2nd Countess of Moray. She was more than 50 years younger than he was. They had two children:

  • Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Nottingham (1610–1681)
  • Anne Howard (born c. 1612). She was married on 29 December 1627 to Alexander Stewart, Baron Garlies, son of Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Galloway and Grizel Gordon.



  • Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham1
  • M, #11922, b. circa 1536, d. 14 December 1624
  • Last Edited=12 Jan 2012
  • Consanguinity Index=0.02%
  • Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham was born circa 1536.1 He was the son of William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham and Margaret Gamage.1 He married, firstly, Katherine Carey, daughter of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon of Hunsdon and Ann Morgan, circa July 1563.1 He married, secondly, Lady Margaret Stuart, daughter of James Stuart, 2nd Lord Doune and Elizabeth Stewart, Countess of Moray, circa September 1603.4 He died on 14 December 1624.
  • He succeeded to the title of 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham, co. Surrey [E., 1554] on 21 January 1572/73.1 He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Garter (K.G.) in 1574.1 He held the office of Lord High Admiral [England] in 1588, who was in supreme command at the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.1 He was created 1st Earl of Nottingham [England] on 22 October 1596.1
  • Child of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham
    • Lady Anne Howard4
  • Children of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham and Katherine Carey
    • Lady Elizabeth Howard+5 b. 1564, d. c Jan 1646
    • Lady Frances Howard+6 b. b 1572, d. c 7 Jul 1628
    • William Howard, 3rd Baron Howard of Effingham+7 b. 27 Dec 1577, d. 28 Nov 1615
    • Charles Howard, 2nd Earl of Nottingham1 b. 17 Sep 1579, d. 3 Oct 1642
  • Child of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham and Lady Margaret Stuart
    • Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Nottingham1 b. 25 Dec 1610, d. 26 Apr 1681
  • Citations
  • [S37] BP2003 volume 1, page 1277. See link for full details for this source. Hereinafter cited as. [S37]
  • [S130] Wikipedia, online http;// Hereinafter cited as Wikipedia.
  • [S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."
  • [S37] BP2003. [S37]
  • [S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume III, page 60. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  • [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume I, page 428.
  • [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume V, page 10.
  • From:


  • HOWARD, Charles I (c.1536-1624), of Effingham, Surr.
  • b. c.1536, 1st s. of William, 1st Baron Howard, by his 2nd w. Margaret, da. of Sir Thomas Gamage of Coity, Glam.; bro. of William. m. (1) July 1563, Katharine (d. Feb. 1603), da. of Henry Carey†, 1st Baron Hunsdon, 2s. Sir William, Lord Howard of Effingham and Charles Howard II 3da.; (2) Sept. 1603, Margaret, da. of James, Earl of Moray, 2s. suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Howard 1573; KG 22 May 1575; cr. Earl of Nottingham 22 Oct. 1597.
  • Offices Held
    • Gent. of privy chamber 1558; envoy to France July 1559; keeper of Oatlands park 1562; gen. of horse 1569; j.p.q. Surr. by 1573, ld. lt. musters 1579, custos rot. c.1584; chamberlain of the Household 1583-5; PC 1583-d.; ld. high adm. 1585-1619; ld. lt. and custos rot. Surr. 1585-d. (jointly with s. Charles from 1621); ld. lt. Suss. 1585-d. (jointly with Lord Buckhurst from 1586 and the Earl of Arundel from 1608); high steward, Guildford from 1585; lt.-gen. army and navy Dec. 1587; constable, Windsor castle 1588-d.; high steward, Windsor 1593-d.; keeper Hampton Court 1593; jt. commr. to exercise office of earl marshal 1592, 1601, 1604, 1605, 1616, 1617, 1618; jt. c.-in-c. Cadiz expedition 1596; steward of the Household 1597-1615; c.j. forests south of Trent 1597-d.; ambassador extraordinary to Spain 1605.2
  • The son of a great nobleman and courtier, and relative of Queen Elizabeth, Howard lived under five sovereigns, and his career spanned all Elizabeth’s reign and much of James’s. When aged about 11 he became a pupil of John Foxe the martyrologist, who was engaged by the Duchess of Richmond as a tutor to the young children of the late Earl of Surrey. Residing at the Duke of Norfolk’s house at Reigate, Foxe presumably wished his pupils to conform to his own religious beliefs. His failure with another of his charges, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, is well known. Howard, like his father, remained a moderate in religion, a factor which facilitated the transition from the Marian régime to that of Elizabeth. Foxe left Reigate on Edward VI’s death, Howard having already departed to join the entourage of the Vidame de Chartres in France and Lorraine, where he was ill treated. His father demanded his return when he was made lord deputy of Calais in October 1552, and presumably Charles joined him there, gaining further experience in the language he was to employ a few years later on his first official appointment of Elizabeth’s reign.3
  • The choice of Howard as envoy to the French court in July 1559 followed his failure, despite his father’s backing, to secure election for his county in that year. Howard reached Paris only to find that the ‘very loving letter’ which he carried from the Queen to Henri II, congratulating him on his supposed recovery from an injury, had arrived too late. The King had not recovered, and his successor received the envoy coldly. After several uncomfortable interviews Howard returned to England. He spent the 1560s at court, where his sinecure Oatlands park office brought him 1s.5d. a day. He had also an allowance of £100 p.a. from his father, the lord chamberlain who had been the Queen’s protector under Mary Tudor. When he succeeded his father, the Queen gave him an annuity of £200. The bulk of the estates, which included a moiety of Reigate manor and the manors of Bletchingley, Effingham, Great Bookham, Kingswood and Billingshurst, passed to Lady Margaret Howard, who held them until her death in 1581.4
  • In 1569 and 1570, Howard had his first experience of military and naval command—spheres in which he gained such great renown. Five years previously he had apparently been considered for appointment as general of horse under Warwick in France, but he is not known to have served in the abortive campaigns at Dieppe and Le Havre. In 1569, however, he received that appointment and commanded over 1,000 horse against the northern rebels. In the summer of the following year he was joint commander (with William Wynter) of the fleet which escorted the Queen of Spain through the Channel. Despite cautious instructions, Howard forced the Spanish admiral to salute him.5
  • Howard succeeded his father in 1573, relinquishing his seat in the Commons, where he had been named to only three committees, concerned with the succession (31 Oct. 1566), Mary Queen of Scots (12 May 1572) and fire-arms (22 May 1572). In 1585 Howard was appointed lord high admiral, an office held briefly by his father in Mary Tudor’s reign. He commanded the fleet against the Armada, and thereafter honours and rewards followed rapidly. A great courtier, he frequently entertained Elizabeth, who was a friend of his first wife. He served on numerous commissions, ranging from the trial commissions of Mary Queen of Scots and the Earl of Essex to the commission in 1607 for taking an inventory of jewels in the Tower, and he was a patron of the Fortune theatre, which opened in 1601 with a performance by his players.
  • He died in his late 80s at Haling House, Chelsea, 14 Dec. 1624 and was buried four days later at Reigate. He was succeeded as 2nd Earl of Nottingham by Charles, his younger son by his first marriage. There is only a draft will, drawn up shortly before he sailed against the Armada. In it Howard appointed Hunsdon and Burghley as overseers.6
  • From:


  • Charles HOWARD (1° E. Nottingham)
  • Born: 1536
  • Acceded: 22 Oct 1597
  • Died: 14 Dec 1624, Haling House near Croydon, Surrey
  • Notes: See his Biography.
  • Father: William HOWARD (1º B. Howard of Effingham)
  • Mother: Margaret GAMAGE (B. Howard of Effingham)
  • Married 1: Catherine CAREY (C. Nottingham) Jul 1563
  • Children:
    • 1. Frances HOWARD (C. Kildare/B. Cobham)
    • 2. William HOWARD (3° B. Howard of Effingham)
    • 3. Charles HOWARD (2° E. Nottingham)
    • 4. Margaret HOWARD
    • 5. Elizabeth HOWARD (C. Carrick)
  • Married 2: Margaret STUART (C. Nottingham) Sep 1603
  • Children:
    • 6. Charles HOWARD (3° E. Nottingham)
    • 7. Anne HOWARD (B. Garlies)
  • From: HOWARD (1° E. Nothingham)
  • Second Lord Howard of Effingham and first Earl of Nottingham. Lord High Admiral of England, is chiefly remembered as commander-in-chief of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. Son of Sir William Howard, first Baron Howard of Effingham, and his first wife, Margaret Gamage. His father, first son of the second marriage of Thomas Howard, second Duke of Norfolk, was Lord Admiral before him under the Catholic Queen Mary.
  • Sir Charles is believed to have served at sea under the command of his father during the reign of Mary. On the accession of her half sister, Elizabeth I, Sir Charles stepped at once into a prominent position at court. His high birth and connections, the Queen was his first cousin once removed.
  • In 1559 Sir Charles was sent as Ambassador to France to congratulate Francois II, on his accession. In the Parliament of 1562 he represented County Surrey, and in 1569 was named General of the Horse, under the Earl of Warwick, in the suppression of a Catholic rebellion in the north. Warwick's army assist Sussex and Clinton in the North.
  • In Jul 1563, any hope of becoming a royal consort having withered, Howard had taken a wife of less elevated station. But barring the Queen herself, who attended as a spectator, the age could scarcely have provided a more promising bride than Catherine Carey, eldest daughter of Lord Hunsdon. She was probably several years younger than Howard, but she was already a maid of honor and a close personal attendant of the Queen. More important, she was Elizabeth's closest female relative of her own generation on the safely non-royal side and an intimate friend. After marriage she became one of the ladies of the privy chamber, succeeding in I572 to the office of first lady of the chamber, an office as exalted as any that normally could be given to a female subject. Besides being one of her mistress's constant personal attendants, she acted as mistress of the robes, supervising the Queen's enormous and expensive wardrobe and keeping watch ayer the treasures taken out of the jewel house for the Queen's use. It was Lady Howard who received and accounted for the jewels, chains, bracelets, gold toothpicks, forks of agate and gold- whatever could be considered jewelry or plate-that the queen received from her courtiers at New Year's. She filled the office creditably for fourteen years, during which time her husband was rising from a casually employed court gallant to one of the handful of principal officers and the primary defender of his country's security.
  • There is nothing to suggest that Howard's wife was in any direct way responsible for his success, but she certainly would have been able to keep his name before the Queen and remind her, as occasion allowed, of his unflagging leal and devotion. Nothing much is ever said of Lady Howard's beauty or of the wealth she brought to the marriage, but she was a wife of irreproachable conduct, exemplary loyalty, and genuine devotion. She lived quietly and, though bound up for many years in the affairs of the royal household, was seldom mentioned by the vendors of gossip. There is, in fact, no reason to think that Howard and his wife were not entirely compatible; certainly neither of them indulged in much of the extramarital adventure common at a sophisticated court. But if the marriage was solidly founded in mutual esteem and high expectation, it had but a slender financial base. Lady Howard would llave been given some kind of dowry - a sum like the twelve hundred marks given with Howard's elder sister, Lady Douglas Sheffield, would not have been unreasonable - but the exact amount is unknown. Howard himself got £100 ayear from his father and little more than £20 from his keepership, beyond which there was precious little to support the match.
  • Upon the death of his father, he succeeded as second Lord Howard of Effingham. When he inherited his title he also inherited a collection of lands worth probably about £300 a year, including the manors of Blechingley, Effingham, Kingswood Liberty, Little Bookham, West Humble, Billeshurst, and Hackstal -all in Surrey- Barnstaple Priory in Devonshire, Wisshanger in Gloucestershire, and Appledram, Eastbrooke, Southwick, and perhaps Barnham in Sussex.
  • Howard acted as deputy chamberlain in 1574 and 1575 for his cousin the Earl of Sussex, whose health was so poor that he found it necessary to be away from Court for months at a time. His primary responsibility as deputy must have been the co-ordination of the remarkable progress that occupied the court through the summer of 1574: after visiting Theobalds at the end of May, the court continued north and west to Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, and Staffordshire, then south into Worcester and Oxfordshire, reaching Woodstock in Sep. This progress was the occasion of Leicester's elaborate entertainment at Kenilworth Castle, which lasted for more than two weeks. While Elizabeth remained at Kenilworth much of the court personnel was housed in Warwick, an arrangement which complicated the responsibility of the Chamberlain, who had to work with local officers in supplying housing, transportation, and messenger and food services. Sussex apparently returned to court at the end of the summer, but Howard continued to act as chamberlam through most of the next year.
  • Lord Howard received new evidence of the Queen's esteem when on 3 Apr 1575, he was elected to the companionship of the Order of the Garter, filling the vacancy created by the execution of his cousin the Duke of Norfolk. He was installed on May 8 in ceremonies at Windsor conducted by his father-in-Law, Lord Hunsdon, and Sir Henry Sidney. Howard was the nineteenth of the Queen's subjects so honored since her accession; of that number, eleven were noblemen of the rank of earl or higher who became companions more or less in due course if they remained on good terms with the Crown. Of the remainder, some seem to have been elected as a mark of the Queen's particular favor, others to help her satisfy the needs of her preferment-hungry court. Howard's elevation apparently came from a combination of these factors. He had not yet performed any signal service of valor for which the Garter might be a suitable reward, but he was the heir of a great house and by now a familiar face at court. No doubt he had pressed for the rewards that any nobleman needed to maintain his dignity and increase his prestige; the election might have been a mark of honor to ease the waiting for a more substantial appointment. Or if it had seemed by the time of the Garter election that Sussex would be able to return to Court as chamberlain, Howard's appointment might have been designed to compensate him for the loss.
  • In May 1585, he was appointed Lord Admiral of England.
  • He participated in the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, and it appears that Queen Elizabeth was persuaded to sign Mary's death warrant at his urging.
  • His adult experience before his appointment as Lord High Admiral in 1585, while extending to brief periods of command of a squadron of ships and of soldiers, was mainly as courtier, diplomat, and trusted servant to Elizabeth.
  • His portrait in later years shows a grave face with a strong nose. He comes down as an elegant, handsome man, not sufficiently dashing perhaps to win Elizabeth's heart, but cautious, steady, strong, and a good Protestant.
  • In Dec 1587, with the threat of a Spanish invasion, he was commissioned as 'lieutenant-general and commander-in-chief of the navy and army prepared to the seas against Spain', a mark of Elizabeth's great confidence in him. The confidence was not misplaced; he was diligent in examining every vessel in his fleet, "I have been aboard of every ship that goeth out with me, and in any place where any man may creep", and in seeing to the comfort and victualing of his crew, even to the extent of dipping into his own pocket, which was never overfull. That the organization for the supply of ammunition and the men's wages broke down later is no reflection on Howard, but on the unprecedented scale of the 1588 mobilization; no Englishman had experience of such a vast fleet and there was no administrative backing to cope with its demands. Howard constantly risked Elizabeth's displeasure on behalf of the men who fought for her.
  • BEF the Armada reached the Channel Howard had been convinced by his second- in- command, Sir Francis Drake, that the Spaniards could best be defeated on their coast, but Elizabeth's hesitation and then contrary winds forced him into a defensive posture, which was probably more in keeping with his character. During the progress of the Spanish fleet up the Channel the English refused to play into the enemy's hands by engaging in a close melee where the seasoned. Disciplined soldiers aboard the Spanish ships could have decided the contest as in a land fight; they held off and played 'long bowls'. This again suited Howard's temperament, but it is certain that his most experienced seaman commanders like Drake and Sir John Hawkins approved and probably suggested the policy. Howard's achievement should be assessed as a diplomatic and administrative one in keeping together such a band of disparate individualists as Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher. For this, for his care of his men, and for the prudent tactics that resulted in the eventual failure of the Armada, Howard deserves recognition as one of England's most successful fleet admirals as well as her first commander-in-chief of a major fleet.
  • After the Armada campaign Howard continued to serve as Lord High Admiral in major expeditions afloat. The following years found him occupied with the defense of the country and the administration of the navy. He organized the charity known as The Chest at Chatham, which was founded in 1590 'by the incitement, persuasion, approbation, and good liking of the lord admiral and of the principal officers of the navy".
  • In 1596 Sir Charles once again was called upon to battle Spain at sea, and once again was successful. Queen Elizabeth, however, was, after he wont, angry when he had the nerve to request that she pay the sailors their promised wages. She asserted that the men had paid themselves by plunder, and that she had received no benefit from the expedition! The following year Sir Charles was created Earl of Nottingham.
  • In 1601 he led the forces that defeated the Essex´s rebellion. He held numerous important positions throughout his life, dying at the ripe old age of eighty eight.
  • His wife, Catherine, died in Feb 1602/3, and her friend the Queen feel into a great depression and died a few weeks later.
  • He did not retire until 1618 when a commission investigating naval administration reported adversely. Although always conscientious, Howard had held his office too long as he was, at the age of 82, not vigorous enough to check the abuses flourishing under him.
  • From:


  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28
  • Howard, Charles (1536-1624) by John Knox Laughton
  • HOWARD, CHARLES, Lord Howard of Effingham, Earl of Nottingham (1536–1624), lord high admiral, was the eldest son of William, first lord Howard of Effingham (d. 1573) [q.v.], by his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Gamage of Coity in Glamorganshire and of Margaret, daughter of Sir John St. John of Bletsoe (Collins, v. 120). He is said to have served at sea under his father during the reign of Queen Mary. On the accession of Elizabeth he stepped at once into a prominent position at court. His high birth and connections—the queen was his first cousin once removed—are sufficient to account for his early advancement, even without the aid of a handsome person and courtly accomplishments (Fuller, Worthies of England, 1662, Surrey, p. 83). In 1559 he was sent as ambassador to France to congratulate Francis II on his accession. In the parliament of 1562 he represented the county of Surrey, and in 1569 was general of the horse, under the Earl of Warwick, in the suppression of the rebellion of the north. In 1570, when the young queen of Spain went from Flanders, Howard was appointed to command a strong squadron of ships of war, nominally as a guard of honour for her through the English seas, but really to provide against the possibility of the queen's voyage being used as the cloak of some act of aggression (Camden in Kennett, History of England, ii. 430; Cal. State Papers, Dom., 29 and 31 Aug. and 2 Oct. 1570). Hakluyt adds that he 'environed the Spanish fleet in most strange and warlike sort, and enforced them to stoop gallant and to vail their bonnets for the queen of England' (Principal Navigations, vol. i. Epistle Dedicatorie addressed to Howard). It is supposed that it was at this time that Howard was knighted. In the parliament of 1572 he was again knight of the shire for Surrey; and on the death of his father, 29 Jan. 1572-3, he succeeded as second Lord Howard of Effingham. On 24 April 1574 he was installed a knight of the Garter, and was appointed lord chamberlain, a dignity which he held till May 1585, when he vacated it on being appointed lord admiral of England in succession to Edward Fiennes de Clinton, earl of Lincoln [q.v.], who died on 16 Jan. 1584-5. In 1586 Howard was one of the commissioners appointed for the trial of Mary Queen of Scots, and, though not actually present at the trial, seems to have conducted some of the examinations in London. According to William Davison (1541?- 1608) [q.v.] it was due to his urgent representations that Elizabeth finally signed Mary's death-warrant (Nicolas, Life of Davison, pp. 232, 258, 281). From Friday, 17 Nov. 1587, till the following Tuesday night, Howard entertained the queen at his house at Chelsea. Pageants were performed in her honour, and in the 'running at tilt' which she witnessed 'my Lord of Essex and my Lord of Cumberland were the chief that ran' (Philip Gawdy to his father, 24 Nov., Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 520).
  • In December 1587 Howard received a special commission as 'lieutenant-general and commander-in-chief of the navy and army prepared to the seas against Spain,' and forthwith hoisted his flag on board the Ark, a ship of eight hundred tons, which, having been built by Ralegh as a private venture and afterwards sold to the queen, seems to have been called indifferently Ark Ralegh, Ark Royal, and Ark (Edwards, Life of Ralegh, i. 83, 147). Howard's second in command was Sir Francis Drake [q.v.], whose greater experience of sea affairs secured for him a very large share of authority, but Howard's official correspondence through the spring, summer, and autumn of 1588—much of it in his own hand—shows that the responsibility as commander-in-chief was vested in himself alone. His council of war, which he consulted on every question of moment, consisted of Sir Francis Drake, Lord Thomas Howard, Lord Sheffield, Sir Roger Williams, Hawkyns, Frobiser, and Thomas Fenner (cf. his letter 19 June). When looking out for the approach of the Spanish fleet on 6 July, Howard divided the fleet into three parts, himself, as commander-in-chief, after prescriptive usage, in mid-channel, Drake off Ushant, and Hawkyns off Scilly, according to their ranks as second and third in command respectively. In the several encounters with the Spaniards off Plymouth, off St. Alban's Head, and off St Catherine's, Howard invariably acted as leader, though his colleagues, and Drake more particularly, were allowed considerable license. The determination to use the fire–ships off Calais was come to in a council of war, including—besides those already named, with the exception of Williams, who had joined the Earl of Leicester on shore—Lord Henry Seymour, Sir William Wynter [q.v.], and Sir Henry Palmer [q.v.]; but the attack on the San Lorenzo, when stranded off Calais, was ordered and directed by Howard in person, contrary, it would appear, to the opinion of his colleagues, This action was severely criticised (cf. Froude, xii. 416 and note); it was urged that the commander-in-chief should then have been, rather, off Gravelines, where the enemy was in force. But the incident serves to mark the independence of Howard, as well as the sense of responsibility which tempered his courage. That the prudent tactics adopted throughout the earlier battles were mainly Howard's, we know, on the direct testimony of Ralegh, who highly commends him as 'better advised than a great many malignant fools were that found fault with his demeanour. The Spaniards had an army aboard them, and he had none; they had more ships than he had, and of higher building and charging; so that had he entangled himself with those great and powerful vessels, he had greatly endangered this kingdom of England. . . . But our admiral knew his advantage and held it; which had he not done, he had not been worthy to have held his head ' {History of the World, Book v. chap. i. sect. vi. ed. 1786, ii. 565). In the last great battle off Gravelines the credit of the decisive result appears to be due, in perhaps equal proportion, to Seymour and to Drake. It is quite possible that they were carrying out a plan previously agreed on, but Howard, having waited on the San Lorenzo, was later in coming into action. Neither he nor his colleagues understood till long afterwards the fearful loss sustained by the Spaniards. 'We have chased them in fight;' he wrote, ' until this evening late, and distressed them much; but their fleet con- sisteth of mighty ships and great strength. . . . Their force is wonderful great and strong, and yet we pluck their feathers by little and little' (Howard to Walsingham, 29 July, State Papers, Dom., ccxiii. 64). On the return of the fleet to the southward, vast numbers of the seamen fell sick, chiefly of an infectious fever of the nature of typhus (Howard to lord treasurer, 10 Aug., State Papers, Dom. ccxiv. 66; Howard to queen, Howard to council, 22 Aug., State Papers, Dom. ccxv. 40, 41), aggravated by feeding on putrid beef and sour beer. Many of the sick were sent ashore at Margate, where there were no houses provided for their reception; and it was only by Howard's personal exertions that lodging was found for them in 'barns and such outhouses.' 'It would grieve any man's heart,' he wrote, 'to see them that have served so valiantly to die so miserably.' The queen demurred to the expenses thus involved. Howard had already paid part of the cost of maintaining the fleet at Plymouth, sooner than break it up in accordance with the queen's command, and his available means, which were not large considering his high rank, were exhausted (Cal. State Papers, Dom., 19 June); but 'I will myself make satisfaction as well as I may,' he said in reference to this additional outlay, 'so that her Majesty shall not be charged withal' (Froude, xii. 433-4).
  • During the years immediately following the destruction of the 'Invincible Armada' Howard had no employment at sea. His high office prevented his taking part in the adventurous cruising then in vogue [cf. Clifford, George, third Earl of Cumberland], and no expedition on a scale large enough to call for his services was set on foot, though one to the coast of Brittany was proposed in the spring of 1591 (Cal. State Papers, Dom., 12 March 1591). He was meantime occupied with the defence of the country and the administration of the navy. He has the official, and probably also the real, credit of organising the charity long known as 'The Chest at Chatham' [cf. Hawkins, Sir John], which was founded by the queen in 1590 'by the incitement, persuasion, approbation, and good liking of the lord admiral and of the principal officers of the navy' (Chatham Chest Entry Book, 1617-1797, p.1).
  • In 1596 news came of preparations in Spain for another attempt to invade this country, and a fleet and army were prepared and placed under the joint command of Howard and the Earl of Essex [see Devereux, Robert, second Earl of Essex], equal in authority, the lord admiral taking precedence at sea and Essex on shore, although in their joint letters or orders Essex's signature, by right of his earldom, stands first. The fleet, consisting of seventeen ships and numerous transports, arrived off Cadiz on 20 June and anchored in St. Sebastian's Bay. It was determined to force the passage into the harbour on the following morning. After a stubborn contest the Spanish ships gave way and fled towards Puerto Real. The larger vessels grounded in the mud, where their own men set them on fire. Two of the galeons only, the St. Andrew and St. Matthew, were saved and brought home to be added to the English navy. An 'argosy,' 'whose ballast was great ordnance,' was also secured. The other vessels, including several on the point of sailing for the Indies with lading of immense value, which were destroyed, might have been taken had not Essex landed as soon as the Spanish ships gave way. Howard, who had been charged by the queen to provide for her favourite's safety, was obliged to land in support of him (Monson, 'Naval Tracts,' in Churchill's Voyages, iii. 163). The town was taken by storm, and was sacked, but without the perpetration of any serious outrage. The principal officers of the expedition, to the large number of sixty-six, were knighted by the generals, the forts were dismantled, and the fleet again put to sea. The council of war, contrary to the views of Essex, agreed with the admiral that it was the sole business of the expedition to destroy Spanish shipping, and they returned quietly to England without meeting any enemy on the way. Howard's caution, which was with him a matter of temperament rather than (as is sometimes asserted) of age, was undoubtedly responsible for the comparatively small results of the enterprise. He declined all needless risk, and his judgment, in the queen's opinion, was correct. 'You have made me famous, dreadful, and renowned,' she wrote to the generals on their return, 'not more for your victory than for your courage, nor more for either than for such plentiful liquor of mercy, which may well match the better of the two; in which you have so well performed my trust, as thereby I see I was not forgotten amongst you.' Elizabeth, however, was, after her wont, very angry when Howard applied for money to pay the sailors their wages. She asserted that the men had paid themselves by plunder, and that she had received no benefit from the expedition.
  • An angry feeling which had arisen between Essex and Howard was increased the following year, when, on 22 Oct., Howard was created Earl of Nottingham, the patent expressly referring not only to his services against the Armada in 1588, but to his achievements in conjunction with Essex at Cadiz. Essex claimed that all that had been done at Cadiz was his work alone, and resented the precedence which the office of lord admiral gave Howard over all non-official earls. The queen appointed Essex earl marshal, thus restoring his precedence; but the relations between the two were still strained (Chamberlain, p.38).
  • In February 1597–8 some small reinforcements sent to the Spanish army in the Low Countries were magnified by report into alarge force intended for the invasion of England, and Howard was suddenly called on to take measures for the defence of the kingdom. Nothing was ready. With the exception of the Vanguard, Nottingham wrote, all the ships in the Narrow Seas are small, 'fit to meet with Dunkirkers, but far unfit for this that now happens unlooked for. In my opinion, these ships will watch a time to do something on our coast; and if they hear our ships are gone to Dieppe, then I think them beasts if they do not burn and spoil Dover and Sandwich. What four thousand men may do on the sudden in some other places I leave to your lordships' judgments' (Nottingham to Burghley and Essex, 17 Feb. 1598, Cal State Papers, Dom.) Eighteen months afterwards there was a similar alarm, with many false rumours, springing out of a gathering of Spanish ships at Corunna. They were reported off Ushant and in the Channel (ib. August 1599). A strong fleet was fitted out and sent to sea, 'in good plight for so short warning' (Chamberlain, p. 61); a camp was ordered to be formed, troops were raised (ib.), and Nottingham was appointed to the chief command by sea or land, his commission constituting him 'lord lieutenant-general of all England,' an exceptional office, which Elizabeth had destined for Leicester at the time of his death, but which had been actually conferred on no one before. Howard now 'held [it] with almost regal authority for the space of six weeks, being sometimes with the fleet in the Downs, and sometimes on shore with the forces' (Campbell, i. 397).
  • Nottingham was one of the commissioners at Essex's trial (19 Feb. 1600–1), and after the execution of Essex served on the commission with the lord treasurer and the Earl of Worcester for performing the office of earl marshal (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 10 Dec. 1601). He was in high favour with the queen. On 13 or 14 Dec. 1602 he entertained her at Arundel House. The feasting, we are told, 'had nothing extraordinary, neither were his presents so precious as was expected, being only a whole suit of apparel, whereas it was thought he would have bestowed his rich hangings of all the fights with the Armada in 1588'(Chamberlain, p.169). These hangings were afterwards in the House of Lords, and were burnt with it in 1834, though copies still exist in the engravings made by Pine in 1739. It was to Nottingham that the queen on her deathbed named the king of Scots as her successor (Campbell, i. 398), and it was at his house that the privy council assembled to take measures for moving the queen's body to London (Gardiner, i. 85). He had probably been already in communication with James, and from the first he was marked out as a recipient of the royal favour. He was continued in his office of lord admiral. He was appointed (20 May 1603) a commissioner to consider the preparations for the coronation; in May 1604 he was a commissioner for negotiating the peace with Spain, and in March 1605 was sent to Spain as ambassador extraordinary, to interchange ratifications and oaths. His embassy was of almost regal splendour. He had the title of excellency, and a money allowance of 15,000l. All the gentlemen of his staff wore black velvet cloaks, and his retainers numbered five hundred (Winwood, Memorials, ii. 39, 52). His firmness, his calm temper, and his unswerving courtesy, backed up by the prestige of his military achievements, carried the treaty through most satisfactorily. 'My lord's person,' wrote Sir Charles Cornwallis [q. v.], 'his behaviour and his office of admiral hath much graced him with this people, who have heaped all manner of honours that possibly they can upon him. The king of Spain has borne all charges for diet, carriage, &c., and bestowed upon him in plate, jewels, and horses at his departure to the value of 20,000l.' ( Winwood, ii. 74, 89). Liberal presents of chains and jewels were made to the officers of his staff, and Nottingham won golden opinions from the Spanish courtiers by his open-handed generosity.
  • No important commission seems to have been considered complete unless Nottingham was a member of it. He was appointed to the commission formed to prevent persons of low birth assuming the armorial bearings of the nobility, 4 Feb. 1603–4; to consider the union of England and Scotland, 2 June 1604; for the trial of the parties concerned in the Gunpowder plot, 27 Jan. 1604–5; to grant leases of his majesty's woods and coppices, 24 Sept. 1606; and to take an inventory of, jewels in the Tower, 20 March 1606–7. On the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth to the Elector Palatine, 14 Feb. 1612–13, 'she was conducted from the chapel betwixt him and the Duke of Lennox' (Collins, v. 123), and was afterwards escorted to Flushing by a squadron under his command. This was his last naval service. The last commission of which he was a member was that appointed on 26 April 1618 to review the ancient statutes and articles of the order of the Garter (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 674). He was now an old man, and it may be conceived that the cares of office sat heavily on him. Many abuses crept into the administration of the navy, as indeed into other public departments, and a commission was appointed to inquire into them on 23 June 1618 (Gardiner, iii. 204; Patent Roll, 16 Jac. I, pt. i. It may be noted that immediately following this appointment in the Roll is that of an other commission, in almost identical terms, to inquire into abuses in the treasury). After the report of the naval commission in the September following (Cal. State Papers, Dom. vol. ci.; Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. pt. i. p. 99), though no blame was attributed to Nottingham, even by current gossip, he probably felt that he was not equal to the task of cleansing the sink of iniquity which stood revealed. Buckingham was anxious to relieve him of the burden, and a friendly arrangement was made, by the terms of which he was to receive 3,000l. for the surrender of his office, and a pension of 1,000l. per annum (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 6 Feb. 1619); he was also during life to take precedence as Earl of Nottingham of the original creation of John Mowbray (temp. Richard II), from whom, in the female line, he claimed descent (ib. 19 Feb.) This precedency seems to have been purely personal (Collins, v. 123), and not to have extended to his wife; for two months later, on the occasion of the queen's funeral, there was a warm controversy on the subject, Nottingham arguing that a woman necessarily took the same precedence as her husband, except when that was official (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 14, 24, 25 April). In his retirement he continued to act as lord-lieutenant of Surrey, and held numerous posts connected with the royal domains (ib. 14 April 1608), the gross emoluments of which were large. Despite his high and remunerative offices he was not accused of greed, but was said to have exercised a noble munificence and princely hospitality, and to have used the income of his office in maintaining its splendour. He died at the ripe age of eighty-eight, at Harling, near Croydon, on 13 Dec. 1624. It appears that he preserved his faculties to the last. A letter dated 20 May 1623, though written by his secretary, was signed by himself, 'Nottingham,' in a clear bold hand. He was buried in the family vault in the church at Reigate, but no monument to his memory is there. One in the church of St. Margaret, Westminster, has sometimes given rise to a false impression that he was buried there.
  • It has been frequently stated that Howard was a Roman catholic. The presumption is strongly against it, for the Act of Uniformity passed in 1559, declaring the queen the supreme head of the church, required a sworn admission to that effect from every officer of the crown. The statement itself seems to be of recent origin. Dodd, Tierney, Charles Butler, and Lingard, among catholics; Camden, Stow, Collins, Campbell, and Southey, among protestants give no hint of it. The story was not improbably coined during the discussions on catholic emancipation, and suggested by the known religious belief of recent dukes of Norfolk. A number of circumstances combine to give it positive contradiction. He helped to suppress the rebellion of the north, a catholic rising, in 1569; was a commissioner for the trial of those implicated in the Babington plot, and of Mary Queen of Scots; on 2 Oct. 1597, and again 9 May 1605, was appointed on a commission to hear and determine ecclesiastical causes in the diocese of Winchester; was on the commission for the trial of the men implicated in the Gunpowder plot in 1605, and for the trial of Henry Garnett [q.v.], the Jesuit (Hargrave, i.231, 247); was in the beginning of the reign of James I at the head of a commission to discover and expel all catholic priests (Howard, Memorials, p.90). An Englishman in Spain, in the course of a letter of intelligence addressed to Howard, wrote: 'I hope to acquaint you with all the papists of account and traitors in England ' (Cal State Papers,Dom. 13 Aug. 1598). According to information from Douay: 'The recusants say that they have but three enemies in England whom they fear, viz. the lord chief justice, Sir Robert Cecil, and the lord high admiral' (ib. 27 April 1602); and on 20 May 1623 he reported to the archbishop of Canterbury, as lieutenant of the county, that John Monson, son of Sir William Monson, was 'the most dangerous papist,' and was, therefore, committed to the Gatehouse (ib. 30 May). His father, as lord admiral under Mary, was no doubt a catholic then, but in all probability conformed to the new religion with his son on the accession of Elizabeth.
  • Howard was twice married: first, to Catherine, daughter of Henry Carey, lord Hunsdon [q.v.], first cousin of the queen on the mother's side. By her Howard had issue two sons and three daughters. Of the sons William married in 1597 Anne, daughter of John, lord St. John of Bletsoe, and died 28 Nov. 1615, leaving one daughter, Elizabeth, who married John Mordaunt, earl of Peterborough, and was grandmother of Charles Mordaunt, earl of Peterborough [q.v.] in the time of Queen Anne; the younger, Charles, on the death of his father, succeeded as second Earl of Nottingham, and died without male issue in 1642. Of the daughters Frances married Sir Robert Southwell, who commanded the Elizabeth Jonas against the Armada in 1588; Elizabeth married Henry Fitzgerald, earl of Kildare, and Margaret married Sir Richard Leveson [q. v.] of Trentham, vice–admiral of England. Catherine, the first countess of Nottingham, died in February 1602-3, which, we are told, the admiral took 'exceeding grievously,' keeping his chamber, mourning in sad earnest ' (Chamberlain, p. 179; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 9 March 1603). She was a favourite with the queen, and when she died in February 1602-3, Elizabeth fell into a deep melancholy, and herself died 20 March following. The story that the countess intercepted a ring sent by Essex to Elizabeth, and confessed the deceit to the queen on her deathbed, is doubtless apocryphal [see Devereux, Robert, second Earl of Esssex]. Before June 1604 Howard married his second wife Margaret, daughter of James Stuart, earl of Murray, great-granddaughter through the female line of the Regent Murray. On 12 June 1604 she was granted the manor and mansion-house of Chelsea for life (Cal. State Papers, Dom.); she is again mentioned in December 1604 as having a 'polypus in her nostril, which some fear must be cut off' (Winwood, ii. 39). By her Howard had two sons: James, who died a child in 1610, and Charles, born 25 Dec. 1610, who, on the death of his half-brother and namesake, succeeded as third Earl of Nottingham; he died without issue in 1681, when the title became extinct, the barony of Effingham passing to the line of Howard's younger brother.
  • A portrait of Howard by Mytens is at Hampton Court; another, full length, life size, in Garter robes, collar of the Garter with George, with the Armada seen in the background through an open window, belongs to the Duke of Norfolk; a third, three-quarter length, life size, is the property of Mr. G. Milner-Gibson Cullum; a fourth is in the possession of the Earl of Effingham. They all represent Howard as an old man.
  • [By far the best Memoir of Howard is that in the Biographia Britannica, which exhausts the older sources of information; the memoir in Campbell's Lives of the Admirals (i. 392) is a condensed version of it. The notice in Collins's Peerage (edit. of 1768), v. 121, is also good; that in Southey's Lives of the British Admirals, ii. 278, is, as a biography, meagre. Much new matter is in the Calendars of State Papers, Dom. There is some interesting correspondence in Winwood's Memorials, vol. ii., and in Chamberlain's Letters (Camden Soc. 1861). Treswell's Relation of the Embassy to Spain (1605) is republished in Somers's Tracts, 1809, ii. 70. The story of the Armada and of the sacking of Cadiz is in Hakluyt's Principal Navigations, and the whole naval history of the period is brought together in Lediard's Naval History. Other authorities bearing on parts of Howard's extended career are Monson's Naval Tracts in Churchill's Voyages, vol. iii.; Devereux's Lives of the Devereux, Earls of Essex; Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia in Harleian Miscellany, ii. 98; Howard's Memorials of the Howard family, which makes some strange blunders in dates; G. Leveson-Grower's Howards of Effingham, in vol. ix. of Surrey Arch. Coll. p. 395; Froude's Hist. of England (cabinet edit.); Gardiner's Hist. of England (cabinet edit,)]
  • From:,_Charles_(1536-1624)_(DNB00)



The History of Norfolk: From Original Records and Other Authorities Preserved in Public and Private Collections Robert Hindry Mason - January 1, 1885 Wertheimer, Lea - Publisher


Curator, please remove Joan Howard. It was removed before and someone reposted her as a daughter. Joan was NOT his daughter. - Done EH 28 May 2013

Charles Howard was married first to Catherine Carey, daughter of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon and Ann Morgan.

They had the following children:

1. Frances Howard (buried July 11, 1628). She was married first to Henry FitzGerald, 12th Earl of Kildare. She was secondly married to Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham.

2. William Howard, 3rd Baron Howard of Effingham (December 27, 1577 – November 28, 1615). Summoned to the Lords as 3rd Baron Howard of Effingham. He was married on February 7, 1596/1597 to Anne St John.

3. Charles Howard, 2nd Earl of Nottingham (September 17, 1579 – October 3, 1642). He was married first on May 19, 1597 to Charity White (d. December 18, 1618), daughter to Robert White. Secondly on April 22, 1620 to Mary Cokayne, daughter of Sir William Cokayne who served as Lord Mayor of London in 1619 and Mary Morris.

4. Margaret Howard, married in 1587 Sir Richard Leveson, no issue.

5. Elizabeth Howard (buried March 31, 1646). Maid of honour to Elizabeth I of England. She was married first to Sir Robert Southwell. One of their daughters, Elizabeth, was a lover and eventually a third wife of Robert Dudley (explorer). Another daughter, Frances, married Edward Rodney. Elizabeth Howard was secondly married to John Stewart, 1st Earl of Carrick.

Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham married secondly to Margaret Stuart, daughter of James Stuart, 2nd Earl of Moray and Elizabeth Stuart, 2nd Countess of Moray. She was more than 50 years younger than he was. They had two children:

6. Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Nottingham (1610–1681)

7. Anne Howard (born c. 1612). She was married on 29 December 1627 to Alexander Stewart, Baron Garlies, son of Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Galloway and Grizel Gordon.


view all 14

Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham's Timeline

December 1536
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
July 1563
Age 26
Wallingford Castle,,,England
March 3, 1564
Age 27
Effingham, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Age 35
Effingham, Surrey,England
December 27, 1577
Age 41
September 17, 1579
Age 42
September 1603
Age 66
Effingham, Surrey, England
- August 28, 1604
Age 67
London, Greater London, United Kingdom

Somerset House Conference, negotiating the peace treaty that ended the Anglo-Spanish War (1585-1604)

March 3, 1610
Age 73
March 3, 1612
Age 75