HOWARD, George (1718-96), of Stoke, Bucks. and Great Bookham, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 20 June 1718, 1st s. of lt.-gen. Thomas Howard (nephew of Francis, 5th Baron Effingham) of Great Bookham by Mary, da. of Rt. Rev. William Moreton, bp. of Meath 1705-16, sis. of Sir William Moreton. educ. Westminster 1729; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1735. m. (1) 16 Feb. 1747, Lady Lucy Wentworth (d. 27 Apr. 1771), da. of Thomas, 1st Earl of Strafford, sis. and coh. of William, 2nd Earl, 1s. 2da.; (2) 21 May 1776, Elizabeth, da. of Peter Beckford of Jamaica, sis. of Julines, Richard and William Beckford, wid. of Thomas, 2nd Earl of Effingham, s.p. suc. fa. 1753. K.B. 3 Aug. 1774.
Ensign 24 Ft. 1725, lt. 1736, capt.-lt. 1736, capt. 1737; capt. 3 Ft. 1739, lt.-col. 1744; col. 1749; maj.-gen. 1750; lt.-gen. 1760; col. 7 Drag. 1763-79; gen. 1777; col. 1 Drag. Gds. 1779- d.; f.m. 1793.
Gov. Minorca 1766-8, Chelsea hospital 1768-95, Jersey 1795- d.; P.C. 29 July 1795.
Howard fought at Fontenoy, Falkirk, and Culloden; served on the expedition to Rochfort in 1757; and commanded a brigade in Germany, 1760-2. He was returned for Lostwithiel on Lord Edgcumbe’s interest, and received Newcastle’s whip in 1761 through the Duke of Devonshire. In Bute’s list he is marked as a Government supporter. He was not included in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries, nor did he vote against them; he was probably still absent in Germany. He was classed by Jenkinson in the autumn of 1763 as pro-Administration, but voted against general warrants, 18 Feb. 1764. On 29 Jan. 1765 he reaffirmed his opposition to them; and in Rockingham’s list of July 1765 was classed ‘pro’.
On 7 Feb. 1766 during the debate on Grenville’s motion for an address to enforce the laws in America, he said ‘he hoped in God it would not succeed, for in all likelihood he might be ordered to execute it, and before he would imbrue his hands in the blood of his countrymen who were contending for English liberty, he would if ordered draw his sword, but would soon after sheathe it in his own body’.1
Soon afterwards his appointment as governor of Minorca vacated his seat. On 7 Feb. 1768 George Selwyn wrote to Lord Carlisle:2
G. Howard has Chelsea in the room of Sir R. Rich. Lord Exeter brings him into Parliament; he exchanged it with Mostyn [John Mostyn], who has Minorca, which ... is 500 more, but Mr. Howard chose to be in Parliament.
He voted for Wilkes’s expulsion, 3 Feb. 1769, but did not vote on the motion to seat Luttrell, 15 Apr., and in the division list of 8 May, on the motion to consider the Middlesex petition against Luttrell’s election, is placed among the ‘absent friends’. He voted against Administration in the division on the Middlesex election of 25 Jan. 1770, but henceforward supported Administration till the fall of North, though he paired in opposition for the motion to make Grenville’s Election Act permanent, 25 Feb. 1774.
William Baker, a follower of Rockingham’s, wrote to his mother-in-law, Lady Juliana Penn, on 30 June 1775:3
Gen. Howard has many good qualities but he and I do not think quite alike respecting America. I can however make many allowances for his thinking as he does. The blood of Howard is of so deep a dye, that it looks almost like the crimson of royalty. It is no wonder then that it should boil at the idea of resistance in republicans ... The prejudice too of education and the regard he bears to the honour of the profession to which he has been bred may weigh something.
He spoke sensibly in Parliament, mostly on matters of military administration, but rarely on policy or the conduct of the war.
Howard voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and against Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783. During the debate on the third reading of the bill, 8 Dec., he told the House ‘he should vote against the bill; but declared, as he was a man of honour, from no other motive than from not being able to reconcile himself to the principle of the bill’.4 He supported Pitt’s Administration.
Horace Walpole described him as ‘one of those sort of characters who are only to be distinguished by having no peculiarity of character.’5 ‘Sir George is pompous’, wrote Fanny Burney in 1786, ‘yet ... good-humoured in his manners.’6
He died 16 July 1796.