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Howard
Howard
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to arrange for the expulsion of jesuits and seminary priests. In 1606 he supported the union of England and Scotland (cf. Somers' Tracts, ii. 132). When, in 1607, the commons sent up to the House of Lords a petition from English merchants, complaining of Spanish cruelties, Northampton, in a speech in the upper chamber, superciliously rebuked the lower house for interfering in great affairs of state. In 1611 he strongly supported the Duke of Savoy's proposal to arrange a marriage between his daughter and Henry, prince of Wales, in the very sanguine belief that a union of the heir-apparent with a Roman catholic might effectually check the aggressiveness of the democratic puritans. At the same time he did good service by urging reform in the spending department of the navy.

In 1613 Northampton, in accordance with his character, gave his support to his grandniece, Lady Frances, daughter of Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk, in her endeavours to obtain a divorce from her husband, the Earl of Essex. The lady was desirous of marrying the king's favourite, Robert Car, earl of Somerset, and Northampton doubtless thought, by promoting that union, to obtain increased influence at court. Northampton and Lady Frances's father represented the wife in an interview with Essex held at Whitehall in May 1613, in the hope of obtaining his assent to a divorce. Essex proved uncompliant, and Northampton contrived that the case should be brought before a special commission. When, however, the divorce was obtained, Somerset's intimate acquaintance, Sir Thomas Overbury, dissuaded him from pursuing the project of marriage with Lady Frances. Northampton thereupon recommended, on a very slight pretext, Overbury's imprisonment in the Tower, and contrived that a friend of the Howard family, Sir Gervase Helwys [q.v.], should be appointed lieutenant of the Tower. Helwys frequently wrote to Northampton about Overbury's conduct and health, but neither of them seems to have been made explicitly aware of Lady Frances's plot to murder the prisoner. Doubtless Northampton had his suspicions. In his extant letters to Helwys he writes with contempt of Overbury and expresses a desire that his own name should not be mentioned in connection with his imprisonment, but he introduced to Helwys Dr. Craig, one of the royal physicians, to report on the prisoner's health (Cott. MS. Titus B. vii. f. 479), When, in 1615, after Northampton's death, the matter was judicially investigated, much proof was adduced of the closeness of the relations that had subsisted between Northampton and his grandniece, and his political enemies credited him with a direct hand in the murder. But the evidence on that point was not conclusive (Amos Great Oyer of Poisoning, pp. 167, 173-5, 353).

In the king's council Northampton professed to the last his exalted views of the royal prerogative, and tried to thwart the ascendancy of protestantism and democracy. In February 1614 he deprecated with great spirit the summoning of a parliament, and when his advice was neglected and a parliament was called together, he, acting in conjunction with Sir Charles Cornwallis [q. v.], is believed, in June 1614, to have induced John Hoskins [q. v.], a member of the new House of Commons, to use insulting language about the king's Scottish favourites, in the hope that James would mark his displeasure by; straightway dissolving the parliament. Northampton remained close friends with James to the last. He interested himself in the erection of a monument to Mary Queen of Scots in Westminster Abbey, and wrote the Latin inscription. In 1613 he drew up James's well-known edict against duelling, and wrote about the same time ‘Duello foild. The whole proceedings in the orderly dissolveing of a design for single fight betweene two valient gentlemen’ (cf. Ashmole MS. 856, ff. 126-45), which is printed in Hearne's ‘Collection of Curious Discourses,’ 1775, ii. 225-242, and is there assigned to Sir Edward Coke.

Northampton long suffered from 'a wennish tumour' in the thigh, and an unskilful operation led to fatal results. One of his latest acts was to send Somerset expressions of his affection, He died on 15 June 1614 at his house in the Strand, and, as warden of the Cinque ports, was buried in the chapel of Dover Castle. A monument erected above his grave was removed in 1696 to the chapel of the college of Greenwich by the Mercers' Company (cf. Stow, London, ed. Strype, App. i. pp. 93-4).

According to Northampton's will, he died ‘a member of the catholic and apostolic church, saying with St. Jerome, In qua fide puer natus fui in eadem senex morior.’ Although the expression is equivocal, there can be little doubt that he lived and died a Roman catholic. To the king he left, with extravagant expressions of esteem, a golden ewer of 100l. value, with a hundred Jacobin pieces, each of twenty-two shillings value. The Earls of Suffolk and Worcester and Lord William Howard were overseers (cf. Harl. MS. 6693, ff. 198-202; and Cott. MS. Jul. F. vi. f. 440). He left land worth 3,000l. a year to Arundel. His London house, afterwards Northumberland House, by Charing Cross, he gave to Henry Howard, Suffolk's