Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk bigraphy, stories - English sailor, politician, and courtier

Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk : biography

24 August 1561 - 28 May 1626

Admiral Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, KG, PC (24 August 1561 – 28 May 1626) was a son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk by his second wife Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk, the daughter and heiress of the 1st Baron Audley of Walden.

Naval exploits

In December 1584, he was restored in blood as Lord Thomas Howard. Lord Thomas commanded the Golden Lion in the attack on the Spanish Armada. On 25 July 1588, the Golden Lion was one of the three ships that counter-attacked the Spanish galleasses protecting the Saint Anne. He was knighted the next day aboard Ark Royal by his kinsman, Admiral Lord Howard of Effingham.

In 1591, he was sent with a squadron to the Azores which was to waylay the Spanish treasure fleets from America. However, one fleet reached Spain before his arrival, and the second would not arrive in the islands until September. Forced by the long delay to land his sick and repair his ships, he was barely able to reballast and get to sea off Flores in time when his scouts reported an arriving fleet. To his horror, this proved to be, not the treasure fleet, but a powerful Spanish force dispatched from Ferrol to destroy his squadron. All of Howard's fleet escaped, by the barest of margins, except Revenge, commanded by the squadron's vice-admiral, Sir Richard Grenville. Revenge, some distance from the remainder of the fleet, attempted to break through the Castilian Squadron and was forced to surrender after a long fight, in which Revenge was virtually destroyed and Grenville mortally wounded.

In 1596, Howard served as vice-admiral of the expedition against Cadiz, which defeated a Spanish fleet and captured the town. Favored by Queen Elizabeth, he was installed as a Knight of the Garter in April 1597, and in June sailed with the unsuccessful expedition to the Azores, which he had partly funded.


  • Theophilus Howard, 2nd Earl of Suffolk (13 August 1582 – 3 June 1640) married: Elizabeth Hume had issue
  • Elizabeth Howard (c. 1583 - 17 April 1658) married: (1) William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury had issue (2) Edward Vaux, 4th Baron Vaux of Harrowden (some say that Elizabeth's and William's children were illegitimate)
  • Sir Robert Howard (1584–1653) married: Catherine Nevill
  • Gertrude Howard (born c. 1585)
  • Sir William Howard (1586 – bef. 1672)
  • Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Berkshire (8 October 1587 – 16 July 1669) married: Elizabeth Cecil had issue
  • Catherine Howard (c.1588–1673) married: William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Salisbury had issue
  • Emily Howard (born 1589)
  • Frances Howard (31 May 1590–1632) married: (1) Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex (2) Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset had issue
  • Sir Charles Howard (1591 – 21 June 1626), married Mary Fitz(john) and had issue
  • Henry Howard (1592–1616), married Elizabeth Bassett and had issue
  • John Howard (1593–1595)
  • Edward Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Escrick (d. 24 April 1675)
  • Margaret Howard (c.1599 - 1608)

Early life and marriage

After the death of his mother on 10 January 1564, the infant Thomas inherited Saffron Walden and other Audley properties. While imprisoned in the Tower before his execution in 1572, his father urged him to marry his stepsister Mary Dacre, the daughter of Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre and Elizabeth Leybourne, the Duke's third wife. He did so; but Mary died, childless, on April 1578 at Walden.

In or before 1582, Howard remarried to Katherine Knyvet, widow of Richard, son of Robert Rich, 2nd Baron Rich. A noted beauty, she was also the eldest daughter and heiress of her father, Sir Henry Knyvet of Charlton.

Arrest and fall

Through the agency of Buckingham, James was made aware of Suffolk's misconduct in the Treasury, particularly allegations that Lady Suffolk harassed creditors of the crown, and extorted bribes from them before they could obtain payment. Suffolk was suspended from the Treasurership in July 1618. Early in 1619, his wife suffered an attack of smallpox which destroyed her famous beauty, and Suffolk himself pleaded ill health in an attempt to avoid trial. These efforts failed: in October 1619, he, his wife, and their crony Sir John Bingley, Remembrancer of the Exchequer were prosecuted on a variety of counts of corruption in the Court of Star Chamber. Sir Francis Bacon, the prosecutor, compared Lady Suffolk to an exchange woman keeping shop while her apprentice, Bingley, cried "Whad'ye lack?" outside. On 13 November 1619, they were found guilty on all counts. A fine of £30,000 was imposed, and they were sentenced to imprisonment at the King's pleasure.

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Living octopus

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