The story of Henry Howard and his influence on Rotherham

The story of Henry Howard and his influence on Rotherham

By Gareth Dennison | 20/07/2021

The story of Henry Howard and his influence on Rotherham


This was Major General Kenneth Howard, who took the title Lord Howard along with the lordships of the manors of Rotherham and Kimberworth.

Kenneth was a career soldier who fought Napoleon in the Peninsular War and spent most of his time on the South coast.

He married Charlotte Primrose, daughter of the Earl of Roseberry, and had five children in between his military engagements. His wife would later marry again at the age of 80 — to a man 50 years her junior.

Kenneth and Charlotte’s heir was Henry Howard, who would go on to have a remarkable influence on Rotherham.

Henry left the army after marrying Eliza Drummond and moved into Barbot Hall at Greasbrough, while his mother’s household lived at a refurbished Thundercliffe Grange.

When his father had refused to provide land for the new Rotherham Gas Light Company, Henry persuaded him otherwise.

Historian Peter Feek said: “Effectively, he acted as his father’s substitute as lord of the manor and could be found dining the movers and shakers of the town at the crown in an event, for example, to celebrate the coming of age of Queen Victoria.

“Various establishments saw his engagement with local people including the Three Cranes on High Street and at the Ship Inn, where he dined the members of the local Yeomanry and the Feoffees.

“He had only been in Rotherham for seven years when he faced a revolutionary challenge.

“The late 1830s saw the emergence of Chartist movement with its demands for voting by secret ballot for all men over the age of 21 and, amongst other demands, the abolition of property qualifications for Members of Parliament. Among their supporters were Ebenezer Elliott, the Corn Law Rhymer.

“However, the movement was to split between those wanting to use violence to achieve their ends and those who wished to use persuasion to bring about change.

“In Sheffield, the Physical Force Chartists, led by Samuel Holberry, began to make plans for a violent uprising.

“In Rotherham the Chartists met at the Station inn on Westgate and were connected to Sheffield conspiracy.

“Unfortunately for them, the authorities had an informer in their ranks, James Allen, Landlord of the Station.

“Allen revealed the plot to Rotherham’s chief constable, John Bland, who informed Henry Howard, by now a local magistrate.

“Henry took horse to Sheffield where the authorities, now informed, rounded up the ringleaders and frustrated the plot which, though centred on Sheffield, had included plans for the sacking Clifton House and Barbot Hall, as well as seizure of the courthouse.

“Holberry was given four years and died in jail. It is said that no less than 20,000 people attended his burial. It was this popularity that led to Lady Howard’s demand that Henry’s part in this was kept secret for fear of retribution.”

Henry’s erudite qualities were seen through his chairing the Yorkshire Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, as well as the West Riding Geological and Polytechnic Society.

To erudition can be added compassion. He donated what today would be over £1,000 to the Masbrough Boat Disaster Fund in 1841.

And along with Henry Walker of Clifton House, he raised about £1,500 to provide blankets for the poor of the town.

Henry became MP for Shaftesbury in 1841, despite talk at the time of him being “too liberal and intelligent” for a southern seat.

This new role meant giving up his Barbot tenancy and spending more time in London. The Sheffield Independent said his leaving would be “a severe loss to the poor, who have for some years now have enjoyed the benefit of his liberal and open handed charity.”

But Henry continued to visit Rotherham.

In 1843, he was here to watch Mr Brown’s balloon launch in the town centre. The balloon eventually landed in Whiston, although there was no word on the fate of Mr Brown.

Henry became the Earl of Effingham on his dad’s death in 1845 and resigned as an MP to take up his seat in the House of Lords.

“This was clearly beneficial for the town,” said Mr Feek. “Indeed, this was to continue even after he left the town for a new home at Tusmore in Oxfordshire around 1858.

“From Tusmore he lobbied John Russell, the prime minister, for political representation for Rotherham and lived long enough to witness the election of Arthur Acland as the town’s first MP. “This would have been particularly pleasing for him as Acland shared his allegiance to the Liberal party.

“It was not only in the important national issues of the day that he was active On one occasion, he asked Chief Constable Bland to appoint an extra constable for Scholes as it was ‘a complete scene of disturbance and riotous proceedings’.”

Henry became an honorary member of Rotherham Cricket Club and vice president of the Rotherham Savings Bank and Yorkshire Gentlemen’s Cricket Club.

From the middle of the 19th century, he became involved in Rotherham’s expansion to the east — then called New Rotherham but now Eastwood.

He was also involved with — and opened — the Rotherham and Masbrough Literary and Mechanics Institute, later donating land for its expansion. It became a foremost centre for the education of working people, offering lectures on a wide range of topics.

He was still being elected president of the institute years after he left Rotherham, showing just how significant his standing continued to be here. In 1857, he had bought the 5,000-acre Tusmore Estate in Oxfordshire and left Thundercliffe Grange.

After the cholera epidemic of 1848, Henry gave land off Doncaster Road for the extension of the burial ground. There were many other charitable donations.

Mr Feek (right) said: “It would not have entirely been a bed of roses as the ‘town fathers’ flexed their muscles and challenged some of the hereditary rights of the lord of the manor. However, they were quick to lobby for his support for various projects when needed.

“In 1866 he gave up rights to collect tolls from the town’s markets after a period of tortuous negotiations.

“His still-wide interests in Rotherham were left in the hands of Michael Ellison and Fretwell W Hoyle. Through these men he continued to support the town, though now infrequently visiting.”

Land was sold for the building of what would become the Doncaster Gate Hospital and a £1,000 donation was provided for the purpose.

He offered Boston Park to the town on a 40-year lease and it became Rotherham’s first public park.

When Effingham Bridge became dangerous and Crinoline Bridge needed repairs, the Corporation turned to Henry for the funding.

He supported the opening of Rotherham’s first coffee house in 1866, donated to soup kitchens at times of industrial unrest and continued to contribute to the town from his new Oxfordshire home. He died in 1889 and his buried at a small church in Hardwick.

Thomas Badger, a solicitor of the era, said Henry had done all he could to promote the interests, welfare and prosperity of Rotherham.

“A more humble, kind hearted and liberal man than his lordship did not exist,” he added.

Mr Feek said: “His simple monument in the Hardwick churchyard provides further confirmation of this.

“Roseberry Street, Hartington Road, Frederick Street, Effingham Square, Russell Street, Baring Road, Drummond Street, Kenneth Street, Tusmore Street, Howard Street and various Effingham Arms bear testimony to Effingham’s relatives, their homes and political friends.

“Oh, and we shouldn’t forget Henry Street, where the Advertiser was based for so long.”