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CHARLES HOWARD, 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham, Earl of Nottingham (1536-1624), lord high admiral, was the eldest son of William, first baron Howard of Effingham (1510?-1673, by his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Gamage of Coity in Glamorganshire and of Margaret, daughter of Sir John St. John of Bletsoe. He is said to have served at sea under his father during the reign of QueenMary. On the accession of Elizabeth he stepped at once into a prominent position at court. His high birth and connections — the queen was his first cousin once removed — are sufficient to account for his early advancement, even without the aid of a handsome person and courtly accomplishments.

In 1559 he was sent as ambassador to France to congratulate Francis II on his accession. In the parliamentof 1562 he represented the county of Surrey, and in 1569 was general of the horse, under the Earl of Warwick, in the suppression of the rebellion of the north [see the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland. In 1570, when the young queen of Spain went from Flanders, Howard was appointed to command a strong squadron of ships of war, nominally as a guard of honour for her through the English seas,but really to provide against the possibility of the queen's voyage being used as the cloak of some act of aggression. Hakluyt adds that he 'environed the Spanish fleet in most strange and warlike sort, and enforced them to stoop gallant and to vail their bonnets for the queen of England.'1 It is supposed that it was at this time that Howard was knighted.

In the parliament of 1572 he was againknight of the shire for Surrey; and on the death of his father, 29 Jan. 1572-3, he succeeded as second Lord Howard of Effingham. On 24 April 1574 he was installed a knight of the Garter, and about the same time was made lord chamberlain of the household, a dignity which he held till May 1585, when he vacated it on being appointed lord admiral of England in succession to Edward Fiennes de Clinton,earl of Lincoln, who died on 16 Jan. 1584-6, In 1586 Howard was one of the commissioners appointed for the trial of Mary Queen of Scots, and, though not actually present at the trial, seems to have conducted some of the examinations in London. According to William Davison, it was due to his urgent representations that Elizabeth finally signed Mary's death-warrant. From Friday, 17 Nov. 1587, tillthe following Tuesday night, Howard entertained the queen at his house at Chelsea. Pageants were performed in her honour, and in the 'running at tilt' which she witnessed 'my Lord of Essex and my Lord of Cumberland were the chief that ran.'2 In December 1587 Howard received a special commission as 'lieutenant-general and commander-in-chief of the navy and army prepared to the seas against Spain,and forthwith hoisted his flag on board the Ark, a ship of eight hundred tons, which, having been built by Ralegh as a private venture and afterwards sold to the queen, seems to have been called indifferently Ark Raleh, Ark Royal, and Ark. Howard's second in command was Sir Francis Drake, whose greater experience of sea affairs secured for him a very large share of authority, but Howard's officialcorrespondence through the spring, summer, and autumn of 1588—much of it in his own hand—shows that the responsibility as commander-in-chief was vested in himself alone. His council of war, which he consulted on every question of moment, consisted of Sir Francis Drake, Lord Thomas Howard, Lord Sheffield, Sir Roger Williams, Hawkyns, Frobisher, and Thomas Fenner.

When looking out for the approachof the Spanish fleet on 6 July, Howard divided the fleet into three parts, himself, as commander-in-chief, after prescriptive usage, in mid-channel, Drake off Ushant, and Hawkyns off Scilly, according to their ranks as second and third in command respectively. In the several encounters with the Spaniards off Plymouth, off St. Alban's Head, and off St Catherine's, Howard invariably acted as...
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