HOWE, Richard Grobham (1621-1703), of Great Wishford, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



27 June 1660
4 May 1675
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. 28 Aug. 1621, 1st s. of Sir John Howe, 1st Bt., of Little Compton, Withington, Glos., and bro. of John Grobham Howe I. educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. 1640; L. Inn 1641. m. (1) by 1642 (with £4,000), Lucy (d.1658), da. of Sir John St. John, 1st Bt., of Lydiard Tregoze, Wilts., 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 4da.; (2) Anne, da. of John King, bp. of London 1611-12, wid. of John Dutton, of Sherborne, Glos., s.p. Kntd. c.1665; suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. c.1671.1

Offices Held

J.p. Wilts. 1650-2, 1656-80, ?1689-d.; commr. for assessment, Wilts. 1657, Jan. 1660-80, Glos. 1673-80, Glos. and Wilts. 1689-90, militia, Wilts. Mar. 1660; capt. of militia horse, Wilts. Apr. 1660, sheriff 1668-9, dep. lt. 1670-?June 1688, Oct. 1688-d.; freeman, Salisbury 1672, Wilton 1685; commr. for rebels’ estates, Wilts. 1686.2

Gent. of the privy chamber (extraordinary) July 1660.3


Howe’s grandfather, of an obscure Somerset family, obtained a grant of arms in 1625. His father acted as a royalist commissioner for contributions, but changed sides in May 1645, the parliamentary committee of Wiltshire accepting a modest composition of £120. This did not debar him from local office in Gloucestershire during the Interregnum. Great Wishford, which is within three miles of Wilton, was settled on Howe in 1648. He sat for the borough when its representation was restored in 1659; but at the next general election he was involved in a double return with the mayor, who was a friend of the royalist secretary of state, Sir Edward Nicholas. He came into the House at a by-election after the mayor’s return had been declared void, and was noted by Lord Wharton as a friend. He was not an active Member of the Convention, in which he was named to only four committees, those for a naturalization bill, reducing the rate of interest, settling the militia, and inserting the excise clauses in the bill to abolish the court of wards. He was unable to retain his seat in 1661 and was out of Parliament for 14 years, during which little is known about him. He is described as a knight in 1667, with an income of £1,500 p.a., but this seems to have been before he succeeded his father, who had been created a baronet at the Restoration. In 1673 his cousin (Sir) George Grobham Howe was said to be intending to bring him in for Hindon, but before any vacancy occurred there a higher honour came his way. Lord Cornbury (Henry Hyde) succeeded to the peerage, and Howe was elected to fill the vacancy as knight of the shire on the nomination of the lord lieutenant (Lord John Seymour). He was again inactive, with six committees, of which the most important, in the year of his election, were for preventing the growth of Popery and promoting the liberty of the subject. He appeared on the working lists as under the lord treasurer’s influence, but Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly worthy’, and he acted as teller for the Opposition in a debate on supply on 10 Apr. 1677.4

Howe was re-elected for the county to the first Exclusion Parliament, and again noted as ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury. He was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges and to that for expiring laws. According to Roger Morrice he voted for exclusion, but the official list placed him in the other lobby, probably correctly, for he surrendered the county seat in August to his first wife’s brother, Sir Walter St. John, and sat for the family borough of Hindon in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments; but he was totally inactive. He does not appear to have stood at the general election of 1685, though when Thomas Bruce succeeded to the peerage in October he prepared to stand again for the county; but there is no trace of a by-election. Although he had been removed from the commission of the peace in 1680, he was apparently still, or again, deputy lieutenant in 1688, when the lord lieutenant was told:

He will not be for taking off any Penal Laws or Tests till he comes into the House of Commons. He will not contribute to the electing such Members as shall. Declares he will live friendly with all persons whatsoever, and added, when the Parliament met, he hoped an accommodation would be to the King’s content.

He again failed to find a constituency in 1689, but sat for Wilton in the next Parliament. He died on 3 May 1703.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Vis. Eng. and Wales Notes ed. Crisp, xiii. 94-96; Add. 23682, f. 3.
  • 2. Merc. Pub. 12 Apr. 1660; Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 473; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 99; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 546.
  • 3. LC3/2.
  • 4. Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxvi. 346; Hoare, Repertorium Wiltonense, 16; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 12, f. 25; 14, f. 395.
  • 5. Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 18, f. 175.