HOWARD, see Henry Charles, Henry Charles, earl of Surrey (1791-1856), of 21 St. James's Square, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



4 May 1829 - 1832
1832 - 1841

Family and Education

b. 12 Aug. 1791, o.s. of Bernard Edward, 12th duke of Norfolk, and Lady Elizabeth Bellasyse, da. of Henry, 2nd earl of Fauconberg. educ. ?privately. m. 27 Dec. 1814, Lady Charlotte Sophia Leveson Gower, da. of George Granville Leveson Gower†, 2nd mq. of Stafford, and Elizabeth, s.j. countess of Sutherland [S], 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. styled earl of Surrey 1815-41; summ. to the Lords in his fa’s barony as Lord Maltravers 16 Aug. 1841; suc. fa. as 13th duke of Norfolk 16 Mar. 1842. d. 18 Feb. 1856.

Offices Held

PC 1837; treas. of household July 1837-June 1841; capt. yeoman of the gd. July-Sept. 1841; earl marshal 1842-d.; master of the horse July 1846-Feb. 1852; KG 4 May 1848; ld. steward of household Jan. 1853-Jan. 1854.

Lt. Clumber yeoman cav. Mar. 1819, capt. June 1819; maj. Arundel and Bramber yeoman cav. May 1831.


Surrey, whose father succeeded to the dukedom of Norfolk in 1815 as a collateral heir, was the sole issue of his parents’ ill-fated union which had ended in divorce in 1795. Details of his education are lacking, but he is known to have travelled in Sicily in 1811.1 In 1814 he married the daughter of the fabulously wealthy marquess of Stafford and the formidable countess of Sutherland. A Catholic and a Whig, like his father, he joined Brooks’s Club, 4 Apr. 1815. Thomas Grenville† described him about this time as ‘plain, unaffected, reasonable and good natured’. However, Henry Brougham* feared that ‘old mother Stafford’ was determined to make him ‘turn Protestant’, and by 1819 Lord Grey was being warned about ‘the state of Lord Surrey’s politics’, which were ‘entirely under the influence of Lady Stafford’. The following year Sir James Mackintosh* regretted to find him being ‘seduced ... into Court politics’, and on meeting him in 1823 concluded that he was ‘almost a Tory and altogether a puppy, perfectly unworthy of his excellent father’.2 Surrey’s Catholicism prevented him from discharging his duties as deputy earl marshal at the coronation of George IV - ‘a deprivation the more galling in proportion to the loyalty which fills my breast’, as he assured the king - but he was allowed to act as a trainbearer.3 His religion also barred his entry to the Commons until the passage of Catholic emancipation in 1829, directly upon which he was returned for his father’s borough of Horsham, the sitting Member having retired in his favour. In a somewhat incoherent speech to his constituents, he insisted that his patriotism was undiminished by his upbringing in ‘a religion in some trifling respects different to you’, and he hoped that Catholics and Protestants would ‘emulate each other ... in showing an attachment to the king and in maintaining the church as established by law’; the Catholic Orthodox Journal dismissed his remarks as ‘cant’.4

He took the newly appointed oath for Catholic Members, 6 May 1829, and thus became the first man avowedly of his faith to take his seat in the Commons since the seventeenth century. It was reported that ‘the circumstance occasioned some sensation, and the noble earl was warmly greeted by many of his friends’.5 He presented a petition requesting measures to relieve depression in the wool trade, 13 May 1829, and another from local residents against the Horsham and Guildford road bill, 26 Feb. 1830. He divided against Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform motion, 18 Feb., but for the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 Mar. He presented a Worksop petition in favour of Jewish emancipation, 13 May, and voted in this sense, 17 May 1830. It appears that his connection with the duke of Wellington’s ministry went further than the division lists suggest, and that prior to the general election that summer he sought a seat outside his father’s aegis. His brother-in-law Lord Francis Leveson Gower*, the Irish secretary, recommended to the home secretary Peel that support be given in the event of a vacancy at New Shoreham:

Lord Surrey has given proof of his dispositions towards government by very steadily voting with us at all hours, and has informed his father that he intends to continue the same course, with the only proviso that should a subject arise on which the duke’s political feelings were much excited and engaged he ... would refrain from voting at all.

However, it was subsequently reported that Surrey had abandoned the intention of switching seats, and he was again returned for Horsham, ‘unfettered and without any promise on my part’.6

The ministry listed him as one of the ‘good doubtfuls’, with the additional note that he was ‘a friend where not pledged’, but he was absent from the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. That winter he was closely involved in the measures taken to combat the ‘Swing’ riots in his Sussex locality. He instigated the revival of the Arundel and Bramber yeomanry and, as an Arundel clergyman noted, ‘made himself very popular here by taking an active part in the proceedings for keeping the peace, and by patrolling the streets at night’. On the other hand, he was a founder member of the Sussex association for improving the condition of the labouring classes.7 It is not clear whether these events influenced his subsequent political conduct, but he confounded Tory expectations by voting for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he offered for Sussex, with his father’s blessing, but withdrew in the face of opposition from the duke of Richmond’s brother Lord John George Lennox*. Richmond was willing to see Surrey as a county Member ‘if the reform bill should pass’, but in the meantime he was returned again for Horsham.8 He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and paired against giving urban freeholders the right to vote in boroughs, 17 Aug. 1831. However, he was noted as having been ‘absent’ from six divisions in committee, and his father was ‘exceedingly mortified’ to learn that this was being ‘ascribed to so unfounded a motive’ as lukewarmness on reform, when the real reason was that Lady Surrey had recently suffered a stillbirth.9 He voted for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He was granted three weeks’ leave ‘on account of the disturbed state of his neighbourhood’, 25 Nov. He returned to divide for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, the registration clause, 8 Feb., the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and Gateshead, 5 Mar., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted for the address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May. In a letter to lord chancellor Brougham, 30 June, he made the not altogether disinterested suggestion that Arundel be made an additional polling place for the western division of Sussex.10 He voted with ministers on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. 1832.

He was returned as expected for West Sussex at the general election of 1832 and sat until he was raised to the peerage in 1841, shortly before his father’s death. As duke of Norfolk he held various offices in the royal household and gained a reputation as an agricultural improver. However, his closure of the park at Arundel brought him much local opprobrium, and he was widely ridiculed for his speech at an agricultural dinner in 1845 when he recommended curry powder as a palliative for the starving poor: ‘a pinch of this powder ... mixed with warm water ... warms the stomach incredibly ... and a man without food can go to bed comfortably on it’. He continued to be classed as a Whig, though he opposed repeal of the corn laws in 1846. He gained some political renown in 1851 for supporting the ecclesiastical titles bill, which sought to prevent the reintroduction of the Catholic hierarchy in England, and outwardly he conformed to the established church, although he never formally renounced Catholicism.11 He died in February 1856 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Henry Granville Fitzalan Howard (1815-60), Liberal Member for Arundel, 1837-51. A deathbed reconciliation to the religion of his forebears did not prevent his son’s biographer from asserting that he was ‘a Catholic but in name’.12

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Howard Spencer


  • 1. G. Brenan and E.P. Statham, House of Howard, ii. 643-4; Arundel Castle mss C 300.
  • 2. HMC Fortescue, x. 392; Creevey Pprs. i. 245; Grey mss, Lambton to Grey, 4 Oct. 1819; Add. 52444, f. 92; 52445, f. 125.
  • 3. Geo. IV Letters, iv. 442.
  • 4. Orthodox Jnl. xi. (1829), 31-32; xii. (1830), 323.
  • 5. Parl. Deb. (n.s.), xxi. 1105.
  • 6. NAI, Leveson Gower letterbks. vol. 3; Add. 40338, f. 195; Brighton Gazette, 8 Aug. 1830.
  • 7. W. Suss. RO, Burrell mss, Cartwright to Burrell, 10 Dec. 1830; VCH Suss. i. 355; ii. 209.
  • 8. Arundel Castle mss, Richmond to Norfolk, 9 Apr. 1831.
  • 9. Add. 51836, Norfolk to Holland [Aug. 1831].
  • 10. Brougham mss, Surrey to Brougham, 30 June 1832.
  • 11. J.M. Robinson, Dukes of Norfolk, 195-7, 201-2; D. Roberts, Paternalism in Early Victorian England, 107.
  • 12. Comte de Montalembert, Biog. Sketch of duke of Norfolk, 62.