John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk

John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk
The Duke of Norfolk
Spouse(s) Margaret Chedworth
Catherine Moleyns
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
Anne Howard
Isabel Howard
Joan Howard
Margaret Howard
Nicholas Howard
Katherine Howard
Noble family House of Howard
Father Sir Robert Howard
Mother Margaret de Mowbray
Born 1421
Died 22 August 1485

John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, KG, Earl Marshal (1421[citation needed] – 22 August 1485) was an English nobleman, soldier, and the first Howard Duke of Norfolk. He was a close friend and loyal supporter of King Richard III of England[1] with whom he died in combat at the Battle of Bosworth Field.



John Howard was the son of Sir Robert Howard (1385–1436) and the former Lady Margaret de Mowbray (1388–1459), eldest daughter of Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk (of the first creation) (1366–1399) and Lady Elizabeth FitzAlan (1366–1425). His paternal grandparents were Sir John Howard of Wiggenhall, Norfolk and Alice Tendring; by whom he descended from Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, through his illegitimate daughter Joan of Cornwall.[2][3]

Howard was known as "Jack (or "Jock", hence "Jockey") of Norfolk", and he was described as being a "man of average height, with a strong, square face".[4] The Howards were staunch adherents of the House of York during the Wars of the Roses, and John Howard, backed by his powerful Mowbray relations, upheld the Yorkist cause in Norfolk. After demonstrating his military prowess on the field during the Battle of Towton, he won the admiration of Edward IV of England who made him Constable of Norwich Castle, High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, and Treasurer of the Royal Household. He was summoned to Parliament as Lord Howard on 15 October 1470.[5] He was appointed Lord High Steward and walked in front of King Richard III of England, carrying the crown at his coronation. However, John was the eldest (although maternal) grandson of the 1st Duke of the 1st creation. His eldest son, Thomas, Earl of Surrey carried the sword of state.

For his support of King Richard III during the deposition of King Edward V in 1483, he was created The Duke of Norfolk, third creation, on 28 June 1483.[5] The first creation of the Dukedom of Norfolk had become extinct on the death of the 4th Duke in 1476, and the second creation had been invalidated by the illegitimisation of the 1st Duke of York (one of the Princes in the Tower, who was also 1st Duke of Norfolk) on 25 June 1483. Norfolk was also created Earl Marshal, and Lord Admiral of all England, Ireland, and Aquitaine.

Domestic life


John Howard was married firstly in 1442 to Katherine Moleyns (1429 – 3 November 1465), the daughter of William de Moleyns and Anne Whalesborough of Cornwall by whom he had six children;[5] and then secondly sometime before 22 January 1467 to Margaret (1436–1494), the daughter of Sir John Chedworth and his wife, Margaret Bowett,[6] and widow, firstly of Nicholas Wyfold (1420–1456), the Lord Mayor of London and, secondly, of Sir John Norreys (1400–1566), Keeper of the Wardrobe. The Duke's main home was at Stoke-by-Nayland (and later Framlingham Castle) in Suffolk.[7] However, after his second marriage, he frequently resided at Ockwells Manor at Cox Green in Bray as it was conveniently close to the Royal residence at Windsor Castle.[7]


By his first wife, Katherine Moleyns he had the following six children:[5]

Effigy of Lady Anne Gorges, Gorges tomb, Wraxall Church
  • Anne Howard, married Sir Edmund Gorges(d.1512) of Wraxall by whom she had issue.
  • Isabel Howard, married Sir Robert Mortimer by whom she had issue.
  • Joan Howard (died 1508), married in 1481 Sir John Timperley of Hintlesham, Suffolk.
  • Margaret Howard, married Sir John Wyndham of Crownthorpe by whom she had issue.
  • Nicholas Howard.

By his second wife, Margaret Chedworth he had one daughter:


John Howard died at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485 along with his friend and patron King Richard.[8] Howard was the commander of the vanguard, and his son, the Earl of Surrey, his lieutenant. Howard was killed when a Lancastrian arrow struck him in the face after the face guard had been torn off his helmet during an earlier altercation with the Earl of Oxford.[9] He was slain prior to King Richard, which had a demoralising effect on the king. The night before, someone had left John Howard a note attached to his tent warning him that King Richard III, his "master," was going to be double-crossed (which he was):

“Jack of Norfolk, be not too bold,
For Dickon, thy master, is bought and sold.” [10]

He was buried in Thetford Priory, but his body seems to have been moved at the Reformation, possibly to the tomb of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk at Framlingham Church. The monumental brass of his first wife Katherine Moleyns can, however, still be seen in Suffolk.

Howard was the great-grandfather of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the second and fifth Queens consort, respectively, of King Henry VIII. Thus, through Anne Boleyn, he was the great-great-grandfather of Elizabeth I. His titles were declared forfeit after his death by King Henry VII, but his son, the 1st Earl of Surrey, was later restored as 2nd Duke (the Barony of Howard, however, remains forfeit). His senior descendants, the Dukes of Norfolk, have been Earls Marshal and Premier Peers of England since the 17th century, and male-line descendants hold the Earldoms of Carlisle, Suffolk, Berkshire and Effingham.

See also


  1. ^ Paul Murray Kendall, Richard The Third, pp. 193-96
  2. ^ Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, Genealogical Publishing, 2005. pg 232-33.
  3. ^ Sir Bernard Burke. A genealogical history of the dormant, abeyant, forfeited, and extinct peerages of the British empire, Harrison, 1866. pg 284. Google eBook
  4. ^ Neil Grant, The Howards of Norfolk, p.13
  5. ^ a b c d Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Dukes of Norfolk (Howard)
  6. ^ Margaret Bowett's maiden name is sometimes thought to have been Wyfold, but this is an error of confusion since it was her daughter, Margaret Chedworth, who had originally married Nicholas Wyfold in 1455. Margaret Bowett's parents were Nicholas Bowett of Rippingale, Lincolnshire, England and Elizabeth La Zouche of Harringworth, Northampton, England.
  7. ^ a b Ford, David Nash (2011). "John Howard, Duke of Norfolk (c.1425-1485)". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Paul Murray Kendall, Richard The Third, p.365
  9. ^ Neil Grant, The Howards of Norfolk',p.16
  10. ^ Neil Grant, The Howards of Norfolk, p.15


Further reading

  • John Ashdown-Hill: Richard III's "Beloved Cousyn": John Howard and the House of York The History Press 2009 ISBN 9780752451312
Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Gloucester
Lord High Admiral
Succeeded by
The Earl of Oxford
Preceded by
The Duke of York
Earl Marshal
Succeeded by
The Earl of Nottingham
Peerage of England
New creation Duke of Norfolk
Succeeded by
Thomas Howard
Preceded by
In abeyance - last held by Anne de Mowbray
Baron Mowbray
c 1484–1485

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