HOWARD, Philip Henry (1801-1883), of Corby Castle, Cumb.

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



1830 - 1847
14 Mar. 1848 - 1852

Family and Education

b. 22 Apr. 1801, 1st. s. of Henry Howard of Corby and Catherine Mary, da. of Sir Richard Neave, 1st. bt., of Dagnam Park, Essex. educ. Stonyhurst 1815-18.1 m. 11 Nov. 1843, Elizabeth Minto, da. of Maj. John Canning Howard, E.I. Co., 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 1842. d. 1 Jan. 1883.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Cumb. 1860-1.


Howard’s father, a kinsman of the dukes of Norfolk, was the Catholic owner of the Corby Castle estate and founder in 1803 of the Cumberland Rangers volunteers. He remained a staunch supporter of the Cumberland and Westmorland Whigs in their long struggle against the Tory Lowthers, who made his right to vote without swearing allegiance to the established church a major issue at the Westmorland election of 1826.2 Excluded from the universities on religious grounds, Howard was tutored privately and at Stonyhurst, and spent much of his early life on the continent.3 He failed to impress when he toured the North of England with his father in 1823,4 and had difficulty in persuading the Carlisle Whigs to back him at the first post-emancipation general election in 1830, when his father managed his campaign and a poll was narrowly averted.5 On the hustings and at Whig dinners he promised to follow the political leadership of the county Member Sir James Robert George Graham: to promote retrenchment, ‘a temperate but decisive reform in Parliament’ and the gradual abolition of colonial slavery.6 Graham thought Howard had ‘obtained a seat, which by conduct and steady adherence to Whig principles he may keep for life’; his mother that he had realized ‘the summit of his very earliest ambition’.7

Howard soon established himself as a regular contributor to debates and arranged for copies of the Mirror of Parliament to be dispatched to the Carlisle Commercial Newsroom to prove his diligence and counter any misreporting.8 His maiden speech, 11 Nov. 1830, commonly misattributed to Viscount Boyle, was for Sadler’s motion for a select committee on the state of the Irish poor, a sensitive issue in Carlisle on account of its proximity to the Solway ports. He stressed the unwelcome burden that the upkeep of the transient Irish placed on the English middle classes and the threat they posed to the status of English labourers, and called for a tax on absentee Irish landlords for their maintenance. He voted in Daniel O’Connell’s minority for repeal of the Irish Subletting Act that day. The Wellington ministry had considered him as one of the ‘bad doubtfuls’ likely to vote with ‘opposition’, and he did so when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He expressed qualified support for the Cumberland reform petition presented by Graham, 9 Feb. 1831, ‘though the admission of inhabitant householders ... may seem to militate against the peculiar privileges of those ... I represent’; but he refused to endorse its plea for the ballot, and substantiated his case against it with illustrations from the classics and references to his personal experience of its operation in France. Countering, Warburton accused him of citing one side only of Cicero’s Dialogue, but Sir Charles Wetherell praised his speech. He endorsed a Carlisle petition for repeal of the newspaper tax, 9 Feb., and called on ministers to amend the game bill so that the £5 fee for shooting licenses was dropped, 15 Mar. He divided for the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. He objected to the anti-reformers’ time wasting speeches when he brought up a petition against taxing packet steamer passengers, 28 Mar. On his agents’ advice, when the Carlisle guilds adopted hostile petitions, he warned ministers that they needed to reassess the impact of removing freemen’s hereditary voting rights, 18 Apr. 1831.9 He had to campaign jointly with the radical William James to safeguard his seat at the general election in May.10 He informed his father afterwards that he ‘was put out of his first speech by James, who had no sheet and somehow hit on all his ideas’.11 He notified Graham, as one of the architects of the reform bill, that he had been made to promise to try to guarantee the voting rights of all freemen’s children born of marriages solemnized before the measure was carried, and suggested minor alterations in phrasing to make the bill’s wording on contingent parishes, wards, hundreds, rapes, wappentakes, and statutory miles less ambiguous.12

He divided for the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, against adjournment, 12 July 1831, and steadily for its details. He protested at attempts to delay its progress, 29 July, 27 Aug., and dismissed the proposed enfranchisement of £50 tenants-at-will as unconstitutional, 27 Aug. Endorsing a petition from Leath Ward that day against dividing the Cumberland constituency, he said that indisposition alone had prevented him from voting against the proposed county divisions (11 Aug.). He explained before dividing against Edmund Peel’s amendment to preserve freemen’s voting rights, 30 Aug., that he now considered the combination of a £10 householder vote and the enfranchisement of freemen resident within seven miles ‘perfectly adequate’. He joined in the clamour against the anti-reformers’ attempt to ‘create collision’ between the agricultural and commercial interests and cited extracts from the statutes of Henry VI and VIII as proof that non-resident freemen were not permitted to vote until 1774. He divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He objected to receiving a petition blaming the bishops for the bill’s defeat in the Lords and urging their disfranchisement, 18 Oct. According to a hostile witness, Howard ‘cut a sorry figure’ at the Cumberland reform meeting at Wigton, 15 Nov.13 He divided for the revised reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and, apart from a minority vote against enfranchising £50 tenants-at-will, 1 Feb. 1832, he generally supported its details. However, he was taken to task by the Carlisle Reform Association after the Carlisle Journal alleged that he had voted in the minority for the enfranchisement of £10 urban ratepayers, 3 Feb., which they interpreted as a sign that he aimed to promote the influence of ‘aristocracy and wealth’ in the constituency and ‘exclude that of the mechanics and small tradesmen’.14 He divided for the reform bill’s third reading, 22 Mar., and the address requesting the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May. He voted against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish reform bill, 1 June. He had no qualms about supporting James and the Cumberland reformer William Blamire in their abortive attempt to alter the boundaries of Whitehaven to reduce the Lord Lonsdale’s influence there, 22 June. Howard and his relations openly admitted that their pleasure at the passage of Catholic emancipation had been ‘much dampened’ by the restriction of the Irish freeholder franchise, and they regarded the removal of legal differences and restoration of the 40s. freeholder vote as welcome steps towards the greater assimilation of Ireland into the United Kingdom.15 Howard therefore supported O’Connell’s amendments for the enfranchisement of Irish 40s. and £5 freeholders, 13, 18 June, but he rebutted his charge that those who had benefited by emancipation now ‘confederated with the opponents of reform in the attempt to crush the spirit in Ireland’, 13 June 1832. He divided with government on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. 1831, the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, information on Portugal, 9 Feb., and the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. 1832. He voted against them for printing the radical Waterford petition for disbanding the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug. 1831, but with them on military punishments, 16 Feb. 1832. He considered further inquiry into Peterloo ‘inexpedient’ 15 Mar. 1832.

Hoping to see district registries established according to the French plan, he initially declined to join Blamire in outright opposition to the locally unpopular general register bill, 27 Jan. 1832. He denounced central registration when presenting a hostile petition from Cumberland, 22 Feb., and criticized the appointment of a select committee on the English measure that day as a waste of time and money. He was in favour of committing the Irish registry of deeds bill, 9 Apr. He supported the principle of the factory regulation bill, but warned of its adverse effects in depressed textile towns like Carlisle, called for the exemption of 14-21-year-olds from its provisions and asked the select committee to consider its likely impact on poor rates, 14, 16 Mar. He disagreed with the Irish secretary Smith Stanley on the tithes question, 30 Mar., and claimed that he would never have voted for his resolutions had he realized that ‘there was to be no difference in the appropriation of church property’. He explained that although he acquiesced in the continuance of the Church of Ireland, his priority was the establishment of a stable administrative and educational hierarchy within the Irish Catholic church. He suggested amending the Irish clandestine marriages bill by substituting the words ‘Roman Catholic clergymen’ for ‘Popish priests’, 29 June. He made several interventions in support of the anatomy bill, which he perceived as the only means of extending good surgical practice, but he objected to the appointment of political agents as coroners, 11 Apr., and voted to hold coroners’ inquests publicly, 20 June. He endorsed Carlisle’s petition against the bill to remove Scottish and Irish vagrants, 17 July 1832.

After a difficult canvass in which his Catholicism and refusal to support the ballot were major issues, he was returned for Carlisle as a Liberal with James at the general election of December 1832.16 With a single interruption, brought about by his defeat at the voided election of 1847, when the appointment of Catholic bishops was the major issue, he represented Carlisle until he made way for Graham in 1852.17 He succeeded his father to Corby Castle in 1842, but spent little time there, preferring the Warwickshire estate of Foxcote, which his wife (d. 1865), on whom £20,000 was settled when they married in 1843, inherited from her uncle Major Francis Canning.18 Howard died at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight in January 1883 and was succeeded to his estates by his eldest son Philip John Canning Howard (1853-1924). His will was proved in London, 10 Apr. 1883, and resworn in November 1886.19

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Howard of Corby Castle mss D/HC/1/25.
  • 2. H. Lonsdale, Worthies of Cumb. iii (1872); Carlisle Patriot, 24 Feb. 1827; J.R. McQuiston, ‘Lonsdale Connection and its Defender’, Northern Hist. xi (1975), 164-5.
  • 3. Howard mss 1/25, passim.
  • 4. Add. 51597, Morpeth to Lady Holland, 25 Dec. 1823.
  • 5. Howard mss 1/21, corresp. 8-22 July; 1/27, passim.; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 19, 24 July; Brougham mss, Graham to Brougham, 16 Aug.; Carlisle Jnl. 17, 24, 31 Aug. 1830.
  • 6. Carlisle Patriot, 31 July; Hants RO, Carnarvon mss 75M91/L3, H. Howard to Lady Porchester, 9 Aug. 1830.
  • 7. Castle Howard mss J19/1/5/11; Howard mss 1/81, C.M. Howard, ‘Reminiscences for my children’.
  • 8. Howard mss 1/21, J. Steel to P.H. Howard, 5 Mar. 1831.
  • 9. Ibid. Dobinson to P.H. Howard, 8, 9, 19, 21 Mar. 1831.
  • 10. Ibid. Morley to P.H. Howard, 24 Apr.; Brougham mss, Blamire to J. Brougham [Apr.]; same to Lord Brougham, 30 Apr.; Northumb. RO, Hope-Wallace mss ZHW/2/16; Carnarvon mss L3, H. Howard to Lady Porchester, 4 May; Westmld. Advertiser, 7 May 1831.
  • 11. Carnarvon mss L3, H. Howard to Lady Porchester May 1831.
  • 12. Howard mss 1/21, P.H. Howard to Graham, 18 May 1831.
  • 13. Lonsdale mss, Hodgson to Lonsdale, 17 Nov.; Carlisle Patriot, 19 Nov., 10 Dec. 1831.
  • 14. Carlisle Journal, 11, 18, 25 Feb. 1832.
  • 15. Brougham mss, H. Howard to Brougham, 10 Mar. 1829.
  • 16. Ibid. H. Howard to J. Brougham, 6 Dec. 1832; Carlisle Pub. Lib. 3A/324.2; Wellington mss WP1/1240/4.
  • 17. R. Torrens, Sir James Graham, 554-9.
  • 18. Howard mss 1/29.
  • 19. The Times, 3 Jan. 1883.