The surname Howard comes up often on this blog, and just like any other post on the Howard family, our challenge today is to keep all the people named Thomas, Henry, Elizabeth, Anne, Margaret, and Mary straight, not to mention the Earls, Dukes, and Lords so that the whole story makes sense and we can understand the impact of all these relationships and plots!
Today's Howard was born on March 10, 1536. He was the grandson of Thomas Howard, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, who was uncle to two of Henry VIII's consorts, Anne Boleyn (Elizabeth Howard married Thomas Boleyn) and Catherine Howard (Edmund Howard's daughter).
The 4th Duke of Norfolk's father was Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, who was executed just days before Henry VIII died. Thomas Howard the 4th thus succeeded to the family title when his grandfather died in 1554. His mother, by the way, was Frances de Vere of Oxford.
John Foxe, the great Protestant martyrologist and hagiographer, was a teacher of today's Thomas Howard. Howard and his brother Henry Howard, lst Earl of Northampton were under the care of their evangelical aunt, Mary Howard FitzRoy, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset, widow of Henry FitzRoy, Henry VIII's only recognized illegitimate son. Howard continued to patronize Foxe, but Howard also began to involve himself in political efforts to promote Catholicism in England. (His brother Henry would be known as a crypto-Catholic and fall out of Elizabeth's favor.) Note that when Thomas Howard the 3rd was released from the Tower of London at the beginning of Mary I's reign he told John Foxe to find new employment.
Thomas Howard the 4th married thrice and the fourth marriage he attempted got him into big trouble, to say the least. His first wife was Mary FitzAlan, heiress to the Arundell estates. Their son was Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundell and Catholic martyr/saint. (Mary died after his birth in 1557.)
His second wife was a widow-heiress, Margaret Audley (Lady Jane Grey's first cousin). Their eldest son, another Thomas Howard, later 1st Earl of Suffolk, was one of Queen Elizabeth's admirals in the battle against the Spanish Armada and survived to serve James I for many years. The younger son was William Howard, who would be imprisoned as a Catholic by Elizabeth I like his half-brother Philip.
His third wife was another widow, Elizabeth Leyburne Dacre, whose first husband was Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre. Elizabeth Leyburne's family were recusant Catholics. By her first marriage she had three daughters and Thomas Howard the 4th arranged marriages between her three daughters and his three sons after her death in 1567:
Anne Dacre married Philip Howard (their son was named Thomas)
Elizabeth Dacre married William Howard
Mary Dacre married Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk (and died soon after)
Thomas Howard the 4th's sister Jane was married to Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmoreland, a Catholic peer in the North of England. Neville joined Thomas Percy, the 7th Earl of Northumberland in the Northern Rebellion against Elizabeth I in 1569.
Jane Howard Neville encouraged her brother to marry the former Queen of Scotland who was now Elizabeth's prisoner or guest, having sought refuge in 1568, hoping for assistance in regaining her throne. But Elizabeth first wanted to find out if Mary was at all implicated in the murder of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. So by November of 1569, Mary's position was precarious--and this idea of the Earl Marshall of England marrying the Catholic threat to Elizabeth's throne, while the North of England was rebelling, led to Thomas Howard the 4th's imprisonment in the Tower of London.
At the same time, of course, Mary, the ertswhile Queen of Scot was still Elizabeth's most likely successor, since she had rejected the claims of the Grey family. Since Elizabeth was not married, and did not seem likely to be married, any discussion of or action that might influence the succession was very dangerous, as the surviving Grey sisters, Catherine and Mary, found out when they married without Elizabeth's approval.
In the meantime, of course, the Northern Rebellion had fallen apart; Percy and Neville had fled to Scotland and Elizabeth's retribution on the rebels was proceeding apace. Evidently, imprisonment in the Tower somehow led Thomas Howard the 4th to greater designs against Queen Elizabeth. Upon his release he became involved in the Ridolfi Plot of 1570 which aimed at executing the Queen and placing Mary, Queen of Scots (and her consort, Thomas I, King of England?) on the throne. The plot was discovered by Elizabeth's spy network and Thomas Howard the 4th was executed for treason on June 2, 1572. His lands and titles were forfeit to the throne, of course.
His son Philip Howard, however, would succeed to his maternal grandfather's title, the Earl of Arundel, when Henry FitzAlan died in 1580--but he ended up dying in the Tower of London, perhaps just because Elizabeth feared a Howard in exile, supported by the Pope and Catholic monarchs. Nevertheless, Elizabeth restored Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk to the blood in 1584 and he served her in various offices and efforts, including the trial of Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, but ended up leaving office under James I in some disgrace. Thomas Howard the 4th's youngest son, William Howard became a Catholic in 1584, lived in retirement and recusancy in Naworth Castle, Cumberland and died in 1640.