Francis Howard, baron Howard of Effingham

Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham (bap. 1643–1695)

Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, served as royal governor of Virginia from 1683 until 1692, and during his tenure brought Virginia under stronger English control. Born into a prosperous rural family in Surrey County, England, Effingham inherited the barony Effingham unexpectedly in 1681. The title provided him influence at court and soon led to his appointment as governor of Virginia. The monarchy strove for firmer authority over its dominions, and Virginia drew special attention after Bacon's Rebellion (1676–1677). Unlike his two predecessors, Effingham successfully asserted the power of the governor's office, constraining the House of Burgesses by taking away its right to name its clerk and removing two powerful opposition figures from the governor's Council. Eventually the gentry accepted tighter royal oversight. Effingham resided in Virginia for just five years of his tenure, with ill health forcing him to accept the appointment of a lieutenant governor in 1690. He died in 1695, in England. MORE...

 

Early Years

Howard was the eldest son of Sir Charles Howard, baronet, and Frances Courthope Howard. He was born probably at their manor of Eastwick, near Great Bookham, in Surrey County, England, and was baptized there in the Church of Saint Nicolas on September 17, 1643. An offshoot of a great and numerous family whose destiny intertwined with that of England, the Howards of Surrey County were Anglicans who were neither as wealthy, politically potent, nor as notorious as their distant relatives, the Catholic Howards of Norfolk County. His parents enjoyed the prosperous existence of the well-connected rural gentry, which assured him and his younger siblings a comfortable rise to adulthood. Howard matriculated at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, in 1661, but like many young gentlemen of the time he did not pursue serious scholarship. He remained for one year, making valuable acquaintances that could advance him in later years.

On March 20, 1673, Howard's father died, and he inherited the baronetcy and the family estates around Great Bookham. He soon thereafter became a justice of the peace for the county and a deputy to the lord lieutenant. On July 8, 1673, Howard married Philadelphia Pelham, of Sussex County. Although the wedding was a marriage of convenience that linked two gentry families in a time-honored way, the marriage turned into a deeply loving one, and he was a doting father to their five daughters and three sons, of whom one daughter and two sons survived to adulthood.

Howard might have remained in obscurity but for the death on April 26, 1681, of his cousin Charles Howard, third earl of Nottingham and fourth baron Howard of Effingham, which left him heir to the barony of Effingham. As a new baron, Effingham received little in the way of additional land or income, but he gained a visible presence at court. Two of his relatives, Henry Howard, sixth duke of Norfolk, and Henry Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough, introduced him to two of the most influential men in the emerging English imperial center, William Blathwayt and the king's brother, James, duke of York. At their urging on September 28, 1683, Charles II commissioned Effingham to replace the disgraced Thomas Culpeper, second baron Culpeper of Thoresway, as governor of Virginia.

Virginia

Effingham jumped at the prospect. The appointment to high office carried a salary of £2,000 and other remunerative perquisites, which were appealing because the ever-needy Effingham maintained a sizeable household, and the steady income could sustain the family for years to come. When he sailed for Jamestown late in November 1683 he left behind his children and his wife, who was recovering from the recent birth of their eighth child. On February 10, 1684, Effingham's ship anchored in the York River. The colony's great men arranged a welcoming reception attended by nearly 300 dignitaries. They greeted the new governor with a mixture of caution and hope. Both Culpeper and his predecessor, Lieutenant Governor Herbert Jeffreys, had antagonized the colony's principal political leaders. Writing to the London firm of Perry and Lane on February 25, 1684, council member William Byrd I expressed his hope that under Effingham the colony's government would function "more for the countrys interest then formerly."

Instead of a blustery army officer or a venal courtier as governor, in Effingham the Virginians had a minor peer of average intellect but one who was determined to succeed as his predecessors had not. Nothing deterred him—not the fierce opposition of the House of Burgesses, not repeated bouts of kidney stones that nearly killed him, not even the death of his beloved wife, who joined him in Virginia in the autumn of 1684 and died on August 13, 1685. That resolution drew equally resolute backing from Charles II and his successors, James II, and William and Mary. Effingham gave his royal masters what they wanted most, a diminished General Assembly and the return of the office of governor-general to its central place in colonial administration.

Effingham governed at a critical moment in Virginia's development. During his tenure the colony built a new brick statehouse to replace the one burned during Bacon's Rebellion, and he overcame determined resistance from men who attempted to obstruct him in carrying out his royal instructions. Following a prolonged struggle Effingham disqualified one of the leaders of the resistance, Robert Beverley, from serving in any public office. He also dismissed another of the resistance leaders, Philip Ludwell, as a member of the Council of State. In 1688 Effingham seized an opportunity to appoint the clerk of the House of Burgesses, depriving the legislators of the appointment of their own clerk. Effingham eventually forced the great planters to become more amenable to the later Stuart kings' vision of an empire more closely controlled from London, and he left the colony more firmly under royal control than it had been since it became a royal colony in 1625. Effingham's time as governor illustrates how the chance juxtaposition of pressing events with someone of modest talents but steadfast perseverance decisively altered the direction of Virginia history.

Later Years

Ill health afflicted Effingham throughout the five years he resided in Virginia. He vacationed in New York in the summer of 1684 prior to attending a major conference with the Iroquois at Albany and again in the summer of 1687 before another conference with the Iroquois at the same place. His poor health compelled Effingham to return to England early in 1689. By then he knew of James II's overthrow, which put his political future in some doubt, as the House of Burgesses had sent Ludwell to England to lobby for his dismissal. Effingham took his seat in the House of Lords on May 3, 1689, and was reappointed governor by the new king and queen in 1690.

On January 20, 1690, Effingham married Susannah Felton Harbord, a widow. They had no children. His marriage and his physical condition worked against his return to Virginia, which explained his willingness to accept the appointment of Francis Nicholson as lieutenant governor to preside in Jamestown during his absence. Effingham resigned his commission by February 1692. Dogged by illness, Effingham signed a new will on December 20, 1694, and died on March 30, 1695. He was buried near the body of his first wife in the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in Lingfield, Surrey.

Time Line

  • September 17, 1643 - Francis Howard, the eldest son of Sir Charles Howard and Frances Courthope Howard, is baptized in Surrey County, England, in the Church of Saint Nicolas.
  • 1661 - Francis Howard matriculates at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. He remains for one year and does not take a degree.
  • March 20, 1673 - Sir Charles Howard dies, and his son, Francis Howard, inherits the baronetcy and the family estates around Great Bookham in Surrey County, England.
  • July 8, 1673 - Francis Howard marries Philadelphia Pelham, of Sussex County. They will have five daughters and three sons, of whom one daughter and two sons will survive to adulthood.
  • April 26, 1681 - Charles Howard, third earl of Nottingham and fourth baron Howard of Effingham, dies. His heir is Francis Howard, who becomes the fifth baron Howard of Effingham.
  • September 28, 1683 - Charles II commissions Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, to serve as governor of Virginia.
  • Late November 1683 - The newly appointed royal governor, Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, departs England for Virginia.
  • February 10, 1684 - The newly appointed royal governor, Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, arrives in Virginia, his ship anchoring in the York River.
  • February 25, 1684 - In a letter to the London firm of Perry and Lane, William Byrd I expresses hope that under Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, the colony's government would function "more for the countrys interest then formerly."
  • July 1684 - Francis Howard, baron Howard of Effingham, Edmund Jenings, and Ralph Wormeley travel to Albany, New York, to meet in a Grand Assembly with leaders of the Five Nations and the governor and Council of New York.
  • Autumn 1684 - Philadelphia Pelham Howard joins her husband, Governor Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, in Virginia.
  • August 13, 1685 - Philadelphia Pelham Howard, wife of Governor Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, dies in Virginia.
  • Summer 1687 - For a second time, Governor Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, travels to Albany New York, to meet in a Grand Assembly with leaders of the Five Nations and the governor and Council of New York.
  • Early 1689 - Governor Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, returns to England from Virginia due to poor health.
  • May 3, 1689 - Governor Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, takes his seat in the House of Lords.
  • 1690 - Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, is reappointed governor of Virginia by King William and Queen Mary.
  • January 20, 1690 - Governor Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, marries his second wife, Susannah Felton Harbord, a widow. They will have no children.
  • June 3, 1690 - Francis Nicholson is appointed lieutenant governor of Virginia, where he will govern in the absence of Governor Francis Howard, baron Howard of Effingham.
  • February 1692 - Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, resigns his royal commission as governor of Virginia.
  • December 20, 1694 - Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, signs a new will.
  • March 30, 1695 - Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham, dies. He is buried near the body of his first wife in the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in Lingfield, Surrey County, England.

References

Further Reading
Billings, Warren M., editor. The Papers of Francis Howard, Baron Howard of Effingham, 1643–1695. Richmond: Virginia State Library and Archives, 1989.
Billings, Warren M. Virginia's Viceroy, Their Majesties' Governor General: Francis Howard, Baron Howard of Effingham. Fairfax, Virginia: George Mason University Press, 1991.
Billings, Warren M. A Little Parliament: The Virginia General Assembly in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2004.
Evans, Emory G. A "Topping" People: The Rise and Decline of Virginia's Old Elite, 1680–1790. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Billings, W. M., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham (bap. 1643–1695). (2013, October 27). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Howard_Francis_fifth_baron_Howard_of_Effingham_bap_1643-1695.

  • MLA Citation:

    Billings, Warren M. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham (bap. 1643–1695)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 27 Oct. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: July 1, 2013 | Last modified: October 27, 2013