HOWARD, Charles I (c.1536-1624), of Effingham, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

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

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: B.D.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. CP; DNB; Surr. Arch. Colls. xl. 53; Add. 6167, f. 204; CPR, 1560-3, p. 531.
  • 3. Hooper, Reigate, 127-8; J. F. Mozley, John Foxe and his Book, 30-1; CSP For. 1547-53, p. 226.
  • 4. Neale, Commons, 42-5; CSP For. 1558-9, pp. 369, 379-80, 386, 392-4, 547; CSP Ven. vii. 111; CPR, 1560-3, p. 531; SP12/44, ff. 143-4; VCH Surr. iii. 235-6, 323, 336; iv. 257; Surr. Arch. Colls. ix. 428; PRO Index 16772, f. 320.
  • 5. CSP Span. 1558-67, p. 260; SP12/60, f. 182; Holinshed, Chronicles (1808), iv. 236; Add. 35831, ff. 290-2.
  • 6. D’Ewes, 127, 206; CJ, i. 95, 96; Chambers, Eliz. Stage, i. 18 n.1, 19 n.2; ii. 440-1; VCH Surr. iii. 244; J. Nichols, Coll. Topog. vi. 98-9.