HOWORTH, Sir Humphrey (c.1684-1755), of Maesllwch, Rad.
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Family and Education
b. c.1684, s. of Humphrey Howorth of Maesllwch. m. (1) Sibel (d. 4 Mar. 1742), da. of Roger Mainwaring, 1s. 1da.; (2) Mary, da. of John Walbeoffe of Llanhamlach, Brec., wid. of Henry Williams of Gwernyfed, Brec. Kntd. 21 Aug. 1715.
Receiver of crown rents in Cheshire 1714-30.
Howorth represented Radnorshire for 33 years, voting regularly with the Administration. His ownership of Maesllwch gave him considerable electoral influence but for his first 20 years he had to face continual contests, usually followed by petitions, involving him in great expense. For this he blamed the Duke of Chandos, lord lieutenant of the county, who had unsuccessfully attempted to set up his son, Lord Carnarvon, against him in 1727. On 10 Sept. 1740 he wrote to Walpole:
The power of the Crown in the hands of the Duke of Chandos has constantly been, and is now with great warmth given against us, and nothing omitted in his Grace’s power to support the enemy, who make it their business to rail at everything that is done by the Administration, to inflame the people. His Grace has I am assured offered his interest against me, and proposed that the party should join him in opposing Mr. Lewis, neither of which could be attempted were the King’s interest in other hands. This, Sir, obliged us all to be your petitioners, that the above power for the sake of this county might be put into other hands, as the only means to establish the King’s interest here, and give quiet to it.
On 24 Jan, 1741 he reported that Lewis too had turned against him.
When I came out of that country hither, there was not the least talk of an opposition, and I had, as I thought, secured my interest so well, that it was not possible for the Tories to have raised their head; this has been my chief aim for many years, which has from time to time cost me at least £10,000, and nothing left to be thought of, but to wait for any breach in the Whig interest. This it seems, has now happened, and from Mr. Lewis’s own letters to me, and from his behaviour since he came to town, I can make no doubt, but he had been one of the chief instruments of the opposition intended to be given me, and indeed now declared to be so, which is acted by him in an underhand, poor, low manner, and I doubt, is so base, as to inform Sir Robert and you, that the general bent of the country is against me, that they had rather choose any body, than myself, and that therefore he could think of no way to save the county, but by putting up a Whig.1
Once again he was faced with a contest, making further inroads into his resources; nor was his position improved when he was ordered to pay into the Treasury £3,000 arrears from the crown rents collected by him in Cheshire between 1714 and 1730. He was forced to sell much of his estate to his tenants, thus increasing its political value; for, as was subsequently pointed out,
the political power of the estate [lies] entirely in a number of cottagers upon an extensive manor, who from the necessity and distress of their late landlord, Sir Humphrey Howorth, became freeholders, the commissioners of the land tax, in those times being his friends and assessing these his cottagers to give them a right of voting and a freehold forever in the county.
Cottagers ... are always subject to the command of their lord: the word trespass in the law perpetually overhauls them; and with these cottagers and the friends of his neighbourhood Howorth frequently disappointed the united efforts of every other part of Radnorshire.
About 1749-50 the 2nd Lord Egmont describes him as ‘miserably poor’ and necessarily ‘dependent on any Administration as his affairs stand’. He died 4 Feb. 1755, leaving Maesllwch encumbered by a mortgage of £26,000, and by the Treasury claim against it, which with interest, amounted in 1765 to £8,000.2