Select Howe Surname Genealogy

Here are some Howe stories and accounts over the years:

The Howe and Scrope Families at Langar

The Scrope family had held the Langar manor in Nottinghamshire since the late 14th century.  But the last Lord Scrope, Emanuel, died in 1630 and was buried at Langar church.  He died without issue by his wife Elizabeth, although he had sired four illegitimate daughters by his servant, Martha Janes.

The third of his daughters, Annabella, married John Grubham Howe, the second son of Sir John Howe of Compton in Gloucestershire, in 1677.  Annabella had previously been legitimized by an act of Charles II in 1663, granted Langar and all its privileges, and obtained the rank and precedence of an earl’s daughter.  John and Annabella had a son, Sir Scrope Howe, who was created Viscount Howe in 1701.

Emanuel Howe's Wife Sophia and Her Connections

The Howe family was said to have been the illegitimate offspring of King George I.  There were complications however.  The King had locked up his wife in a castle and had several mistresses, one of whom he had brought with him from Germany and married off to an impoverished Irish nobleman, Emanuel Howe.  Sophia Kielmansegge, the mother of Admiral Richard Howe, was believed to have been the King’s illegitimate daughter and she herself was the mistress of royalty to become Countess Howe. 

One of her children, Thomas, broke the family mold and married a black plantation owner's daughter Ann Risdon in St Kitts in the West Indies.  This African connection was apparently a closely guarded secret. Descendants were told that their swarthy complexion was due to a Spanish great

George Howe and His Printer Sons in Australia

George Howe travelled to Australia as a convict under the alias Happy George in order to avoid disgracing the aristocratic Howe name.  He arrived in Sydney in 1800, weakened by typhus (his wife had died of the disease during the voyage), and it took him about a year to recover. 

Two years later he was the government printer, the first in the new colony, even though he did not officially receive his freedom until 1806.  He published Australia’s first newspaper, The Sydney Gazette, but with some difficulty as his patrons would often fall behind with their subscriptions.  He tried various expedients to keep his household going, at one time keeping a school and at another time becoming a professional debt collector.  Eventually he began to do well and he died a prosperous man in 1821. 

His eldest son Robert helped his father as a boy, but rebelled as a teenager, enjoying drink and fathering a bastard child, before getting religion and returning to the business.  As publisher of the Gazette, Howe survived several libel suits, was horsewhipped and another time assaulted with a bayonet and seriously wounded.  He died in a boating accident in Sydney Harbor when he got entangled with his fishing lines after a sudden squall.  He was 34 years old. 

The printing business continued through his younger half brother George Terry Howe who had started as a printer in Tasmania but then returned home to Sydney.  He continued publishing the Gazette until 1842.  He was married and had six daughters and a son.  He also had a son as a result of a liaison with a daughter of a Maori chieftain during a trip to New Zealand to visit his sister there. 

All three Howes were of swarthy complexion that had come down in the family from their Caribbean heritage.  Another curious fact was that George, Robert and George Terry all married Birds, two of them Sarah Bird. 

Elizabeth Howe and the Salem Witch Trials

Elizabeth Howe got caught up in the Salem witch trials. 

"In 1692 Elizabeth Howe, about fifty-three, lived with her blind husband, James Howe, Jr., and their children, in Topsfield.  James had been without his sight for about seven years and Elizabeth had assumed the burden of managing the farm.  She was arrested that year and accused of witchcraft. 

Her husband's father, James Howe, Sr., about ninety-four, stated that Elizabeth was 'very dutiful, careful, loving, obedient, and kind, tenderly leading her husband about by the hand in his want of eyesight.'  However the court preferred to listen to Elizabeth’s brother-in-law John Howe who said that when he had asked her if she were a witch, she had become very angry." 

Elizabeth was found guilty and hanged as a witch.

Elias Howe, The Inventor of the Sewing Machine

Elias Howe was born in Spencer, Massachusetts in 1819, the son of a farmer and local doctor.  This Howe family were prolific inventers.  William Howe invented the wooden truss bridge that is still named after him. Tyler Howe patented ingenious bed springs to give you a better night’s sleep than straw.  However, it would be Elias Howe who would invent something that would change the world. 

Elias Howe had been playing with his sewing machine ideas for years and finally in 1846, after eight years of experimentation, he made his first fully working machine.  He patented his invention but then found that no one would buy it.  It was just too expensive. 

However, others in the next few years later entered the business, making sewing machines that were more affordable.  None of the machines on the market looked exactly like Elias's machine.  But they had all infringed on his patents.  Isaac Singer, for instance, had his needle and his machine using a two-thread lock stitch shuttle for which Elias had patents. 

Elias battled in the courts, claiming patent infringement.  Finally, after eight long years, he won.  Isaac Singer had to fork out over fifteen thousand dollars in back payments; as did several other infringers.  And every sewing machine made in America that used Elias Howe's patents had to pay him royalties, five dollars for each machine sold.  Elias Howe soon became one of the wealthiest men in America.

The Howes at Harmony Grove

In 1871 the descendants of the three Howe family branches were invited to meet for a family celebration.  They duly met at the Harmony Grove in South Framingham near Boston.  Their meeting was described as follows: 

"To this beautiful Harmony Grove every person bearing the name of Howe, or How, as well as everyone connected by ties of marriage with this family, or descended from this family, is most cordially invited for the purpose of spending the day above mentioned 'in union sweet and dear esteem,' of calling to mind the days of 'Auld Lang Syne,' and of telling one another how we love the good old family name of Howe."

Joseph Howe of Nova Scotia

The most lasting influence upon Howe was exercised by his father, loyalist John Howe, whom he once described as “my only instructor, my play-fellow, almost my daily companion.” 

The one member of his family who sided with Britain in revolutionary times, John Howe had a reverent, almost mystical, attitude towards the British connection and he passed this attitude on to his son.  Indeed it was one of two qualities which, more than any others, determined the son’s conduct and shaped his career. 

The second quality was “a restless, agitating uncertainty” which made an ordinary, humdrum existence intolerable.  “If I could be content,” Joseph Howe wrote, “to go along quietly and peaceably like my neighbors and at the end of some fifty or sixty years tumble into my grave and be dust, I should be happy – very happy.”  But that was not to be. 

In 1827, at the age of 23, Joseph Howe purchased the Nova Scotian, soon making it into a popular and influential newspaper.  Nine years later he was elected to the Nova Scotia Assembly, thereby beginning his long and influential political career.  He was instrumental in helping Nova Scotia become the first British colony to win responsible government in 1848 and he served as premier of Nova Scotia from 1860 to 1863.  He later joined the Canadian Federal Cabinet.

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