Portrait of Thomas Howard (1561-1626), Baron Howard de Walden (1597), 1st Earl of Suffolk (1603), Admiral (1599), Lord Chamberlain of the Household (1603-1614), Lord High Treasurer (1614-1618), Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners (1615-1616)
Admiral Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk (24 August 1561 – 28 May 1626) was a son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk by his second wife Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk, the daughter and heiress of the 1st Baron Audley of Walden. After the death of his mother on 10 January 1564, the infant Thomas inherited Saffron Walden and other Audley properties. While imprisoned in the Tower before his execution in 1572, his father urged him to marry his stepsister Mary Dacre, the daughter of Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre and Elizabeth Leybourne, the Duke's third wife. He did so; but Mary died, childless, in April 1578 at Walden. In or before 1582, Howard remarried, his second wife being Katherine Knyvet, widow of Richard, son of Robert Rich, 2nd Baron Rich. A noted beauty, she was also the eldest daughter and heiress of her father, Sir Henry Knyvet of Charlton. In December 1584, he was restored in blood as Lord Thomas Howard. Lord Thomas commanded the Golden Lion in the attack on the Spanish Armada. On 25 July 1588, the Golden Lion was one of the three ships that counter-attacked the Spanish galleasses protecting the Saint Anne. He was knighted the next day aboard Ark Royal by his kinsman, Admiral Lord Howard of Effingham. In 1591, he was sent with a squadron to the Azores which was to waylay the Spanish treasure fleets from America. However, one fleet reached Spain before his arrival, and the second would not arrive in the islands until September. Forced by the long delay to land his sick and repair his ships, he was barely able to reballast and get to sea off Flores in time when his scouts reported an arriving fleet. To his horror, this proved to be, not the treasure fleet, but a powerful Spanish force dispatched from Ferrol to destroy his squadron. All of Howard's fleet escaped, by the barest of margins, except Revenge, commanded by the squadron's vice-admiral, Sir Richard Grenville. Revenge, some distance from the remainder of the fleet, attempted to break through the Castilian Squadron and was forced to surrender after a long fight, in which Revenge was virtually destroyed and Grenville mortally wounded. In 1596, Howard served as vice-admiral of the expedition against Cadiz, which defeated a Spanish fleet and captured the town. Favored by Queen Elizabeth, he was installed as a Knight of the Garter in April 1597, and in June sailed with the unsuccessful expedition to the Azores, which he had partly funded. He was seriously ill in the autumn of 1597, and was created Baron Howard de Walden by writ of summons. While he recovered from his illness, he was unable to attend Parliament until January 1598. On 2 February 1598, he was admitted an honorary member of Gray's Inn. In 1599, he commanded the fleet in The Downs; in that same year he became an admiral. He was appointed Constable of the Tower of London on 13 February 1601 after the revolt of the Earl of Essex, and was one of the commission who tried Essex and Southampton. Still active in privateering ventures, he never obtained significant profit from them. A friend of Sir Robert Cecil, he became acting Lord Chamberlain at the close of 1602, and entertained the Queen at the Charterhouse, towards the end of her life in January 1603. Under James I, Howard immediately entered the King's favour, being appointed Lord Chamberlain on 6 April 1603 and a Privy Counsellor on 7 April. Later that year, on 21 July 1603, he was created Earl of Suffolk. He was also appointed a commissioner for creating Knights of the Bath, and from 1604 to 1618 a commissioner for the Earl Marshalcy. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk in 1605, having several years earlier been made Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire.
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