The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Some years ago, the St George’s annual Parish trip went to Arundel Castle where we learnt a little of the history of the Dukes of Norfolk. This series of articles follows on from that trip to put in greater detail some of the history behind this famous family.

Sir Robert Howard born 1385 died 1426

Sir John Howard  1st Duke born 1420 died 1483 at Bosworth Field

Thomas Howard 2nd Duke born 1444 died 1524

Thomas Howard 3rd Duke born 1473 died 1554

Thomas  Howard 4th Duke born 1538  beheaded 1572 attainted

Sir Philip Howard Earl of Arundel born 1557  died 1595 (Saint Philip)

Thomas Howard Earl of Arundel born 1585 died 1646 (Collector Earl)

Henry Frederick Earl of Arundel born 1608  died 1652

Thomas 5th Duke (from 1660) born 1627 died 1677

Henry 6th Duke born 1629 died 1684

Henry 7th Duke, born 1655, died 1701

Thomas 8th Duke born 1683 died 1732

Henry, 7th Duke had no children and so the Dukedom passed to his brother’s eldest child, Thomas.

Thomas’ father, Lord Thomas of  Worksop,  had been drowned at sea off Brest in 1689 whilst on the service of James II. Lord Thomas, like his older brother the 7th Duke, had obtained a commission in the Kings Life Guards which was well known as a place of refuge and retreat for ‘papists and  men popishly inclined’!! He was a firm and committed Catholic who spent the early part of his life abroad with his Uncle, the Cardinal Norfolk. He spent the last years of Charles II reign quietly at Worksop which had become the family home. Charles II died in 1685 and was succeeded by his Catholic brother James II. Lord Thomas emerged from his retirement to take his place in the Coronation ceremony. As a Catholic nobleman he came to James’ attention and became one of the Kings’ staunchest supporters. He was made Master of the Robes in 1687 and Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire, a county in which he had acquired an interest through his marriage to Mary Savile.

The following year he was appointed to succeed Lord Castlemaine as James’ special ambassador to Rome with the task of bringing the reconciliation of England, Ireland and Scotland with the Holy See.  However he had little time to use this new authority as the king fled the country in December 1688. The Catholic revival in England was short lived and supporters fled abroad to be with the exiled King. Lord Thomas himself took ship to Ireland to give encouragement to the Jacobite cause there. However on returning to France to be with James, his ship ‘La Tempete’ foundered in the channel with all hands.

His four sons (Thomas, Henry, Edward and Richard)  had all been sent abroad to be educated and the new Duke, Thomas, returned to England once all the anti Catholic furore had died down. Interestingly the four boys all had little accounts books showing every amount spent on toys, travel, clothes and nurses’ wages. Two of the boys later became Priests.

At the time of his accession Thomas was only 18 and he immediately set out on his Grand Tour of Europe. He returned in 1705, in his 22nd year,  to kiss her Majesty’s (Queen Anne)  hand. There was no doubt that the Duke was a zealous Papist and as a young man may have been a Jacobite. His younger brother Edward (later the 9th Duke) was directly involved in the Earl of Mar’s rebellion, and was placed in the tower (the last Duke of Norfolk to be so treated)  and was tried for high treason. Amazingly his wife persuaded The Earl of Carlisle to stand his bail and he was released in 1723.

There are a number of pieces of evidence that Thomas was a Jacobite at heart and it was rumoured that he melted down the family plate to provide funds to support the Old Pretender. This may not be true but there is certainly no family plate earlier than the eighteenth century in the current Norfolk possession. His wife, however, was a well known out-and-out Jacobite and she never forgave her husband for his support of ‘the usurper’, George I in 1715 and they never lived together again.

In his religious views the Duke was a moderate sensible Catholic and certainly not bigoted, and he supported Dr Strickland’s compromise for Catholics in England whereby the King would alleviate the lot of his Catholic subjects on condition that the then leading Catholic nobility and gentry should sign a letter to the Pope suggesting a concordat and should sign an acceptable form of the Oath of Allegiance. But this constructive scheme came to nothing because the Catholic community as a whole would not support it.

It is difficult not to feel sorry for the 8th Duke. He was a good honest and upright man, denied the public life which was his birthright, enmeshed in a mix up of conflicting loyalties, religion, rank, his wife, his relations and his duty as a subject. However during his lifetime he made considerable improvements to the Norfolk estates and houses and chapels. He died on 23rd December 1732 after a long and horrible illness. It was widely thought that he had been poisoned as his case puzzled all his Doctors; but why and by whom? He suffered ‘as much pain as was possible for any mortal to undergo’ for several weeks before his death. He was only 49.

Having no children, he was succeeded by his brother Edward as the 9th Duke of Norfolk.

Tony Rice-Oxley

Summer Edition 2011

The Dukes of Norfolk