Monday, September 21, 2015

{38} The Second Family of the 6th Duke of Norfolk

Henry Howard in 1675, when Earl of Norwich,
about the time of his secret second marriage
On 23 January 1678, John Evelyn, a founding member of the Royal Society, noted of his good friend Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk, that he "now newly declared his marriage to his concubine, whom he promised me he would never marry." Evelyn and Howard had been friends for more than thirty years, since 1645, when they toured the art collections of Venice together. Howard's grandfather, the 14th Earl of Arundel, was an avid art collector, and his two eldest grandsons Thomas and Henry, were living with him in Padua. Tragedy struck when, after a fever, Thomas descended into a madness from which he would never recover. The following year, the Earl of Arundel died, and 18-year-old Henry Howard accompanied his father, the new 15th Earl of Arundel, in escorting his grandfather's body back to England for burial.

But Howard's father the 15th Earl was distrusted back home regarding his religion and royalist activity, and the family's estates were sequestered. In April 1652, the 15th Earl died, unsuccessful in settling up the heavy fines and troubled inheritance. Hon. Henry, now aged 24, was the de facto head of the premier ducal family in England, though the three earldoms--Arundel, Surrey & Norfolk--which his father & grandfather had held, passed to his mentally incapacitated elder brother. Six months after his father's death, Howard took an appropriately high-born noble lady to wife, Lady Anne Somerset, the 21-year-old eldest daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Worcester, and her death ten years later in 1662 sent him into "a deep melancholy," followed by (according to Evelyn), "base and vicious courses." He did manage to compound for and refinance most of the family debts, providing himself a healthy income said to be £25,000 a year. Denied a public role on the national level because of his Catholicism, Howard nevertheless remained a prominent figure in East Anglia. He spent time abroad in the mid-1660s, travelling to Vienna, Constantinople, and as far off as India. His friend Evelyn helped Howard to become a Fellow of the Royal Society, and thought he had great abilities and a smooth tongue but little judgement. By 1667, the widower Hon. Henry, approaching age 40, had all of the family responsibilities and none of the family titles, all, including the dukedom of Norfolk, revised by Parliament in 1660 at the Restoration, still held by his elder brother Thomas, mad and incarcerated in Padua.

Jane Bickerton, Duchess of Norfolk
It is in this state that Howard met the beautiful 23-year-old Jane Bickerton, daughter of a deceased clerk who had seen to the King's wine cellar. Exactly how they met is not clear: Howard's ODNB bio states she was an actress, but provides no details on her career. Their affair produced a son George, born in 1668, but was interrupted the following year when Henry was created Baron Howard of Castle Rising in March, and appointed Ambassador to Morocco, where he spent July 1669 to October 1670. On his return to England, he saw his career flourish--he was created Earl of Norwich in 1672--and his affair with the lovely Jane was resumed. It seems to be at this time that John Evelyn was first made aware of it. He wrote an entry in his diary, dated 17 October 1671, "that though he [Howard] kept that idle creature, Mrs. B[ickerton], and would leave £200 a year to the son he had by her, he would never marry her; and that the king himself had cautioned him against it." This advice coming not only from his king, but from a king well-versed in the intricacies of mistresses and bastard children, Howard apparently took it to heart. He continued his affair with Jane, but didn't marry her. Another child, daughter Catherine, was born a short time later, and a third, son James, followed in 1673. One bastard son by a mistress was fairly typical for a nobleman, and tolerated within the family, but Howard here was going beyond the norm with Jane. He was forming a second family with her, which did not engender a positive reaction at all from his siblings.

The death of Henry's mother Elizabeth, dowager countess of Arundel, in January 1674, seems to have opened the floodgates for a full family quarrel. Henry's younger siblings, who'd been grumbling for years that he was mismanaging the family finances and not giving them the full portions which their father the 15th Earl of Arundel had wished for them, now pursued legal actions. Later that year, they petitioned for the return to England of their eldest brother Thomas in Padua, claiming he was not really insane. The marriage of Henry's youngest sister Lady Elizabeth Howard (1651-1706) to Alexander MacDonnell (d. 1677), heir to an Irish baronetcy, which also occurred in 1674 after their mother's death, seems to have prompted her and two of her brothers, Hon. Edward and Hon. Bernard Howard, to sue Henry over their inheritance portions. Henry's passive-aggressive response to the death of his mother and the problems with his younger siblings, was marriage to his mistress Jane Bickerton, which also seems to have occurred, privately and secretly, in 1674. For starting in March 1675, and proceeding until September 1684, the parish register of Weybridge, Surrey, records the birth and christenings of five children of Henry Howard and Jane.
St James Church, Weybridge, Surrey
Henry's marriage and growing family with Jane launched new concern. In March 1677, his younger brothers Edward and Bernard Howard, filed a petition insisting that any children born before the marriage should not "oust the rightful heirs." Nine months later, in December, the mentally ill Thomas Howard, titular duke of Norfolk, finally died in Padua, and Henry succeeded as 6th Duke. Secure in his title and status, he made his marriage public, prompting Evelyn's diary lament in January 1678, and turning Jane Bickerton from a middle-class mistress into the Duchess of Norfolk, a title which no lady had held in over a hundred years.

Jane had a house in Weybridge that was her own, which the Duke proceeded to remodel extravagantly. "He has laid out in building near £10,000 on a copyhold," John Evelyn sniffed in his diary after being shown around it by the Duke, "and in a miserable barren sandy place by the street side; never in my life had I seen such expense to so small purpose." The diarist's father Richard Evelyn of Wotton (d. 1640) had served the Duke's grandfather the 14th Earl of Arundel as a trustee of
John Evelyn, the diarist
Albury in Surrey,  a residence for the Howard family in the suburbs outside of London. The Evelyn family had made their fortune in the production of gunpowder, so this was the son of new money expressing dismay at what he perceived was the waste of old money. That Evelyn privately felt superior both intellectually and culturally to his colleague the Duke is clear from his diary entries (which he had no idea would ever be published), and his having to publicly acknowledge the Duke's superiority simply because of the blue blood flowing through the Howard veins must have been quite taxing. In regards to the Duke's marriage to a woman of such lower social status, Evelyn's diary entries contain a strong sense of schaudenfreude.

Henry and Jane enjoyed their titles of Duke and Duchess of Norfolk for six years. Most of the Duke's estates were entailed and could only pass to his eldest son, but the Duke did take the few which were not - chief of which were Holmes Hall outside of Rotherham, Yorkshire, and Glossop House in Derbyshire - and in his will granted them to the Duchess Jane for life, with remainder to their elder son Lord George Howard and his heirs male, remainder to their younger son Lord James Howard and his heirs male, and then to "any son that might be born of which his wife might be enceinte at the time of his decease", and then to their three daughters. He was doing the best he could as a father, knowing the adversity his duchess and their children would face once he was gone. Their eldest was only sixteen, the youngest five, and the duchess was again pregnant. Whatever contemporaries thought of Norfolk's unequal second marriage, the evidence that comes through clearly is that it was a loving one that brought the Duke much joy and comfort in his final years. John Evelyn, as determined as ever to get as much of the Duke's art and antiquities collection as he could into the hands of the Royal Society, wrote in May 1683: "Went to visit the Duke of Norfolk and to know whether he would sell me any of his cartoons and other drawings of Raphael and the great masters." The response from the Duke was, "that he would part with and sell anything for money but his wife the Duchess." To this, Evelyn dipped his quill in the fountain of disdain, and added a catty comment in his diary, "and I thought with myself that if I were in his condition she should be the first thing that I would be glad to part with." Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk, died in January 1684.
Full heraldic achievement of the Dukes of Norfolk

The low opinion of her held by John Evelyn was the least of the worries of the forty-year-old widowed Duchess. "I am amazed at what you write of my two brothers [probably Edward and Bernard Howard, though Charles, the other surviving brother, had been embroiled in a dispute with the Duke over Greystoke Castle, still unresolved at the Duke's death]," her brother-in-law Cardinal Howard wrote to her in March 1684, "stirring in that which I conceive can bring them no good, but discredit, in adding affliction on the poor innocent." Philip Howard had long ago renounced all claim to the family lands and titles, becoming a Dominican priest in the summer of 1645 in Cremona, Italy, while his eldest brother began his descent into madness in nearby Padua. He was made Cardinal by the Pope in 1675, two years before his brother Henry succeeded their brother as 6th Duke of Norfolk. With no stake in the succession, Cardinal Howard was the only one of the surviving siblings to maintain a positive relationship with the Duke, and with his children by the Duchess. The Cardinal already had the 16-year-old Lord George Howard in his household in Rome when the Duke died, and sent comfort to Lady Catherine Howard, the 13-year-old next oldest child as well, writing to her that he hoped her mother "will find good friends and no enemies, although at first she had some reason to apprehend the contrary." But the situation remained the same during the summer of 1684. "I am sorry to understand that you have some false friends, and secret enemies," the Cardinal wrote to the Duchess in August, "but I hope God Almighty will protect both the widow and fatherless children, unto which all that I can, at this distance, add." The following month the Duchess gave birth at Weybridge to the Duke's posthumous son, Lord Frederick Henry Howard, and insured that her late husband's heart was buried at Princenhoff in Flanders, per his wish, along with the heart of their deceased infant son Lord John Howard, and instructions that her own heart should be buried there as well when the time came.
The Gateway to Portmore Park was all that remained in 1903 of the Weybridge home
of Jane, Duchess of Norfolk. The rest had been pulled down in the 19th century.
In February 1685, Charles II died, succeeded by his brother James II, whose desire was to create religious liberty for English Roman Catholics. Jane, Duchess of Norfolk, was Catholic, and remained a dedicated supporter of King James for the remainder of her life. Lady Catherine, eldest daughter of the Duchess, was clothed a Benedictine nun at Ghent in June 1685 in her 15th year, and professed a year later. The stigma of being born before the marriage of her parents would severely limit Catherine's own marriage prospects, and a cloistered life must have seemed the safest and most acceptable form of providing for her. The Duchess likely facilitated this personally, as she disappears from English records in the latter 1680s, and is thought by Howard family historians to have been on the continent during this period. We don't know the exact date of her marriage to Col. Thomas Maxwell, a Scottish officer from the family of the Earl of Nithsdale who was high in the service of King James, but as Maxwell remained loyal to the King following the revolution of 1688 that forced him from the throne, and followed him into exile to St Germain-en-Laye in France, if the Duchess was not already on the continent, she certainly would have been after the King's deposition.

Maj-Gen. Thomas Maxwell,
second husband of Jane, Duchess of Norfolk
Maxwell was promoted to Major-General in James's army, and commanded his dragoons in Ireland at the Battle of the Boyne on 1 July 1690, with his eldest stepson Lord George Howard also fighting on the King's side. Maxwell remained loyal to James even in defeat, and accompanied him back to exile in France. He continued an officer in the Jacobite army, commanding the King's Irish Dragoons at the battle of Marsiglia, Italy in September 1693, where he was killed. George Howard, meanwhile, made peace with the new King William III three weeks after the Battle of the Boyne, and this may have led to his mother's return to England early in 1691. The Duchess had sold her beloved home in Weybridge to Catharine, Countess of Dorchester, former mistress of James II, evidence of her continuing loyalty to that monarch. The Weybridge home became the Countess's seat, and that of her second husband the 1st Earl of Portmore, and their descendants, who gave it the name of Portmore Park. The dowager Duchess of Norfolk seems to have retreated to Holmes Hall, the Yorkshire estate the Duke had left her, far away from the royal court of William and Mary, and far away from Arundel Castle, the seat of her stepson the 7th Duke of Norfolk. Following her death at Holmes Hall aged 49 in August 1693, her stepson at least allowed her burial beside her Duke in the Fitzalan Chapel at Arundel. "Depositum Illustrissimae Dnae D. Janae, Ducissae Norfolciae" begins the Latin inscription on her coffin-plate there, the Howard family granting her for eternity in death the title that they were loathe to acknowledge was her legal right in life. She left six children, ranging in age from twenty-five to nine, only one of them settled.

JANE BICKERTON, b. 1644 (aged 49 at her death, per her coffin-plate); d. 28 Aug. 1693 Holmes Hall, near Rotherham, Yorkshire (per her coffin-plate), bur. Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel, Sussex, dau. of Robert Bickerton of St Martin in the Fields, by his wife Amy Hester [***]; m. 1st, secretly, c.1674, as his 2nd wife, HENRY HOWARD, 6th Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Arundel, Surrey, etc., b. 12 July 1628 Arundel House, Westminster; d. there 13 Jan. 1684, bur. Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel), second son of Henry Frederick Howard, 15th Earl of Arundel & Lady Elizabeth Stuart; m. 2nd, by 1690, Maj-Gen. THOMAS MAXWELL, d.s.p. in battle 4 Oct. 1693 Marsaglia, Piedmont, Italy.

Issue of Jane Bickerton and Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk:

1) Lord GEORGE HOWARD of Holmes Hall, b. 1668 (aged 54 at death, per his coffin-plate), d.s.p. 6 Mar. 1720/1 Croydon, Surrey, bur. 20 Mar. 1720/1 Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel; m. 1698 (separated 23 Jan. 1707), as her 2nd husband, ARABELLA (ALLEYN) THOMPSON, b. 5 Nov. 1655 Hatfield Priory, Hatfield Peverel, Essex, bap. 21 Nov. 1655 St Andrew Church, Hatfield Peverel; d. 9 July 1746, bur. St Andrew Church, Hatfield Peverel, widow of Francis Thompson of Humbleton, Yorks. (d. 27 Oct. 1693), and only dau. of Sir Edmund Alleyn, 2nd Baronet of Hatfield Peverel & Frances Gent.
[There will be more on Lord George Howard, his wife, and her first husband in an upcoming blogpost]
Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel

2) Lady CATHERINE HOWARD, b. 1671 London; d. unm. between 1725 and 1732 presumably in Ghent, Flanders [Belgium]; clothed a Benedictine nun at Ghent 7 June 1685, professed as Sister Constantia 21 June 1686. Per her entry in the Who Were the Nuns? website, Catherine was aged 15 when clothed and aged 16 when professed. As her father served as ambassador to Morocco from July 1669 to Oct. 1670, she was likely in her 15th year (i.e. age 14) when clothed. The most obscure of the grown children of Jane, Duchess of Norfolk, even Catherine's exact date of death apparently went unrecorded in the Abbey's chronicle.

3) Lord JAMES HOWARD, b. 1673 (said to be aged 22 in Aug. 1695); d. umm. 12 Aug. 1702 Sutton Wash, Lincolnshire. Little is known of the second son of the Duchess, aside from the fact that he fought a duel with Sir Richard Atkins on 1 Aug. 1695, and drowned while attempting to cross the Sutton Wash in Lincolnshire. A violent end to the firebrand of the family.
[See the 3rd footnote on p. 353 of H. Kent Staple Causton's The Howard Papers: with a Biographical Pedigree and Criticism]

4) Lady ANNE HOWARD, b. 4 Mar. 1675 Weybridge, Surrey, bap. same day St James Church, Weybridge [IGI Batch No.: P015211]; d. umm. 28 Nov. 1734 St Elizabeth English Convent, Bruges, Flanders [Belgium]; clothed an Augustinian nun at Bruges 21 Apr. 1692, professed as Sister Dominic 8 June 1693. Though apparently the first child born following the marriage of her parents, the secrecy surrounding their nuptials would nevertheless have cast doubt on Anne's legitimacy, making her prospects on the marriage market as limited as those of her elder sister. Clothed in Bruges just eight months after the death of her mother, when she was only age 17, sadly it seems the choice to lead a cloistered life was not Anne's to make. No doubt her elder brothers were following the wishes of their mother in having her do so. Per her entry in the Who Were the Nuns? website, Anne resented her fate: "Some time before her death she told one of our religious that she did not now repent her being a religious, and if it ware againe to do, it should be her own choice: that it was not so her first coming was wholly unknown to ye comunity tell after her profession or she would never have been professed here." She outlived all of her siblings, the last surviving child of Jane, Duchess of Norfolk.

5) Lady JANE HOWARD, b. 28 Mar. 1676 Weybridge, bap. same day St James Church, Weybridge [IGI Batch No.: P015211]; d. in infancy. This daughter is omitted from all of the published accounts of the Howard family, which suggests that she died in infancy before December 1677, when her father succeeded to the dukedom of Norfolk and made his secret marriage public.

Standish Coat of Arms
6) Lady PHILIPPA HOWARD, b. 19 Sept. 1678 Weybridge, bap. same day St James Church, Weybridge [IGI Batch No.: P015211]; d. 7 Apr. 1732 Standish Hall, Lancs., bur. same day St Wilfrid Church, Standish; m. 1697, as his 1st wife, RALPH STANDISH of Standish Hall, b. 1670; bur. 27 Oct. 1755 St Wilfrid Church, Standish, 2nd but eldest surviving son of William Standish of Standish Hall & Cecily Bindloss, and had issue.
[Lady Philippa Standish and her family will be covered in my next blog post]

7) Lord JOHN BRINO HOWARD, b. 27 Feb. 1682 Weybridge, bap. 15 Mar. 1682 St James Church, Weybridge [IGI Batch No.: P015211]; d. in infancy 2 Dec. 1682 (per his coffin-plate), bur. Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel, heart bur. Princenhoff.

8) Lord FREDERICK HENRY HOWARD of Holmes Hall, b. (posthumous) 23 Sept. 1684 Weybridge, bap. 7 Oct. 1684 St James Church, Weybridge [IGI Batch No.: P015211]; d.s.p. 16 Mar. 1727, bur. unknown; m. Dame CATHERINE (BLAKE) KENNEDY, b. c.1680; d. 22 Jan. 1731, widow of Sir Richard Kennedy, 4th Baronet of Mount Kennedy (d. Apr. 1710), and yst dau. of Sir Francis Blake of Ford Castle, Northumberland & Elizabeth Carr.
[Lord Frederick Howard, his wife, and her Edward III descents will be covered in an upcoming post]

[***] There is little information on Jane Bickerton's family. Her father Robert Bickerton married 7 February 1636/7 at St George Church, Southwark, Surrey, Amy Hester, only child of Robert Hester of St Giles in the Fields, whose will, dated 5 March 1641/2, was proved by Robert and Amy on 19 March 1641/2. The couple had two children who were baptized at St Margaret Church, Westminster: Robert Bickerton, on 10 December 1639, and "Elizabetha" Bickerton on 30 June 1642.  Another son Stephen Bickerton is mentioned in the will of Robert Hester. Jane's father Robert was the son of James Bickerton and his wife Anne, a daughter of William Stanhawe of Beddington, Yorkshire, and of Norwich, Norfolk. In 1609/10, William Stanhawe was granted 1500 acres in co. Armagh, Ireland, which land came to be the manor of Clontilew. Stanhawe, by a deed made 20 June 1640, conveyed half of Clontilew to his grandson Robert Bickerton of St Martin in the Fields. A Chancery Bill of 30 May 1671 details that this Robert Bickerton died in 1647, which means Jane was only a toddler when she lost her father. In 1661, Jane's brother Robert Bickerton (b. 1639) successfully petitioned for his half of Clontilew, and removed there, where he married Anne, daughter of Henry Bellingham of Gernonstown, co. Louth, and had issue. A manuscript (Egerton MS., 1075) in the possession of the Howards in the 19th century, states that Jane's father was "sometime yeoman of the cellar at Whitehall, or some such office," and gives the coat of arms of Bickerton as "Az. an eagle displayed gu, beaked S." Robert Hester, in his will, describes both himself and his son-in-law Robert Bickerton as "gentleman." Whatever the actual status of Jane's father and grandfather, it's clear, from their obscurity in surviving records, how much lower on the social scale they were from the Howards of Norfolk.

Cheers,                               ------Brad

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