Ven. William Howard
Viscount Stafford, martyr ; born 30 November, 1614; beheaded Tower-Hill, 29 December, 1680. He was grandson of the Venerable Philip Howard , Earl of Arundel, mentioned above, fifth son of Earl Thomas (the first great art collector of England ), and uncle of Thomas Philip, Cardinal Howard. Brought up as a Catholic, he was made a knight of the Bath, at the coronation of Charles I, 1 February, 1626, and married Mary, sister of the last Baron Stafford, October, 1637; the title was revived for him 12 September, 1640, and he was immediately afterwards created a viscount. He is said to have joined the royal army during the Civil War, but perhaps erroneously, for in 1642 he was in Holland, attending the exiled royal family and his mother and father. He was also employed by the Emperor Ferdinand in missions to Flanders and Switzerland. After his father's death, 4 October 1646, many painful quarrels with his nearest relatives ensued. The Howard properties in England having been sequestrated by Parliament, the family was much impoverished, and William's eldest surviving brother, Earl Henry Frederick, was induced to commence a series of unjust and vexatious suits against his mother, and practically robbed her of her dowry. William, as her representative, was involved in these painful and prolonged quarrels, and even after both mother and brother had passed away, his cousins and their agents continued against him a quasi-persecution for several years.
The details of these transactions are obscure, but it would seem that the viscount was, under foreign law twice actually arrested, at Heidelberg, July to September, 1653, and at Utrecht in January, 1656, in the latter case he was acquitted with honour, though the charges, of which the particulars are not now known were insulting and vexatious (Stafford Papers, 15 January, 1656, see below). In these troubles his most dangerous opponents were perhaps Junius and other literary adherents of his father, who were claiming manuscripts and rarities from the Arundel Collections in payment of their debts, while Lord William successfully proved that those collections were not liable to such charges. Though they lost, they continued to write bitterly of him, and these complaints have found a permanent record in the diaries and other writings of Evelyn, Burnet, Dugdale, etc. After the Restoration, 1660, his rights were firmly established and his life within his large family circle must have been extremely happy. The brightest hours were perhaps those spent in conducting his nephew Philip to receive the cardinal's hat in Rome (1675).
Three years later Oates (q.v.) and his abetters included Lord Stafford in their list of Catholic lords to be proscribed, and eventually he was put first upon the list. It has been supposed that this was done because his age, simplicity, and the previous differences with other members of his family suggested that he would prove comparatively easy prey. On 25 October, 1678, he was committed to the Tower, and it was more than a year before it was decided to try him. Then the resolution was taken so suddenly that he had little time to prepare. The trial, before the House of Lords, lasted from 30 November to 7 December, and was conducted with great solemnity. But no attempt was made to appraise the perjuries of Oates, Dugdale, and Tuberville, and the viscount was of course condemned by 55 votes to 31. It is sad to read that all his kinsmen but one (that one, however, the Lord Mowbray, with whom he had had many of the legal conflicts above here noticed) voted against him. His last letters and speeches are marked by a quiet dignity and a simple heroism, which give us a high idea of his character. His fellow prisoner and confessor, Father Corker, O.S.B., says: "He was ever held to be of a generous disposition, very charitable, devout, addicted to sobriety, inoffensive in words, a lover of justice." A portrait of him by Van Dyck belongs to the Marquess of Bute.
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online