Charles Howard, 1629-85

The youngest of Cromwell's Major-Generals who, despite his support for the Protectorate, attained high office after the Restoration.

The son and heir to Sir William Howard of Naworth in Cumberland, Charles Howard was brought up a Roman Catholic but apparently converted to Protestantism in 1645 and joined the New Model Army. He was wounded at the battle of Worcester in 1651. During the early 1650s, he was governor of Carlisle in his home county of Cumberland and represented Carlisle in the Nominated Assembly of 1653; he was also appointed to the Council of State and to various committees, and was elected MP for Cumberland in the First and Second Protectorate Parliaments. Howard took over command of Colonel Rich's regiment when Rich was cashiered and was made captain of Cromwell's lifeguard. During the Rule of the Major-Generals, Howard deputised for John Lambert in the northern counties of Cumberland, Northumberland and Westmorland.

Aged only 26 in 1655, Howard was the youngest of the Major-Generals and probably the least godly, seeking to advance his own career and to further the interests of his family. In July 1657, Howard received one of the two hereditary peerages conferred by Cromwell when he was created Lord Gilsland and Viscount Howard of Morpeth. Appointed to Cromwell's Upper House in December 1657, Howard was the only one of the Major-Generals unequivocally to urge Cromwell to accept the Crown. He supported Richard Cromwell as Oliver's successor in 1658, encouraging him to resist the hostile Army leaders by force and offering to take responsibility for arresting Fleetwood, Lambert, Disbrowe and Vane. Howard's advice was rejected, however, and he was deprived of his command when Richard fell from power. Howard was arrested on suspicion of complicity in Booth's Uprising and imprisoned in the Tower in September 1659, but was released without trial soon after.

In April 1660, Howard was elected MP for Cumberland in the Convention Parliament. He allied himself with General Monck, then found favour with Charles II who appointed him to his privy council in 1660. No recognition was made of the titles conferred by Cromwell, but Charles II raised him to the peerage as the first Earl of Carlisle in 1661. Howard continued his military career and served on several diplomatic missions. He was governor of Jamaica 1677-81. He died in February 1685 and was buried in York Minster, where there is a monument to his memory.


Christopher Durston, Cromwell's Major-Generals (Manchester 2001)

Gordon Goodwin, revised by Sean Kelsey, Charles Howard, Oxford DNB, 2004