Geoffrey Howard (Liberal politician)

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The Honourable

Geoffrey Howard

Geoffrey Howard 1906 transparent.png
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
In office
6 February 1911 – 25 May 1915
Monarch George V
Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
Preceded by Sir John Fuller, Bt
Succeeded by Cecil Beck
Personal details
Born 12 February 1877
Died 20 June 1935
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Hon. Ethel Methuen
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

The Honourable Geoffrey William Algernon Howard JP (12 February 1877 – 20 June 1935) was a British Liberal politician. He served as Vice-Chamberlain of the Household under H. H. Asquith between 1911 and 1915.

Background and education[edit]

Howard was the fifth son of George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle, and the Honourable Rosalind Frances Stanley, daughter of Edward Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley.[1] He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a Master of Arts.[1][2] He was also joint Secretary of Cambridge University Liberal Club from 1897 to 1899.[3]

On the break-up of his father's estates (which had been left to his mother and subsequently to his sister Lady Mary, wife of Gilbert Murray), he was allocated Castle Howard.[4]

Political career[edit]

Howard was selected as Liberal candidate for the Eskdale division of Cumberland for the 1906 General Election. As part of the Liberal landslide victory he gained the seat for the party;

General Election 1906 Eskdale[5]

Electorate 10,811

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon Howard 4,467 51.4 +6.1
Conservative Claude William Henry Lowther 4,230 48.6 -6.1
Majority 237 2.8 12.2
Turnout 80.4 +6.8
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +6.1

In 1909 he was appointed private secretary to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, Harold Tennant. In 1910 he faced re-election at the General Election, and although the Liberal Party lost ground, he was able to hold his seat;

General Election January 1910 Eskdale[5]

Electorate 11,014

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon Howard 4,504 50.2 -1.2
Conservative Claude William Henry Lowther 4,470 49.8 +1.2
Majority 34 0.4 -2.4
Turnout 81.5 +1.1
Liberal hold Swing -1.2

After the election he was appointed private secretary to the Prime Minister H. H. Asquith. Another General Election followed 11 months later but this time Howard lost his Eskdale seat. Out of parliament, he was keen to make a return as soon as possible. In 1911 a vacancy occurred in the Westbury division of Wiltshire when the sitting Liberal MP resigned to take up a diplomatic appointment. Howard was chosen as the Liberal candidate for the by-election and retained the seat;

Westbury by-election, 1911[6]

Electorate 10,612

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon Howard 5,073 53.0 -1.8
Conservative George Llewellen Palmer 4,492 47.0 +1.8
Majority 6.0 -3.6
Turnout 90.1 +1.8
Liberal hold Swing -1.8

In 1911 Asquith appointed him Vice-Chamberlain of the Household,[7] a post he held until 1915.[8] He then served as a Junior Lord of the Treasury from 1915[9] to 1916.[1] In 1917 Asquith was replaced as Prime Minister by Lloyd George and went into opposition to the Coalition Government. Howard followed Asquith into opposition. As a result, when the Coalition was endorsing candidates for the 1918 General election, at Westbury, endorsement was given to his Unionist opponent and he was defeated;

General Election 14 December 1918: Westbury[10]

Electorate 29,208

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Brig-Gen. George Llewellen Palmer 9,261 49.1
Liberal Capt. Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon Howard 6,064 32.1
Labour Capt. Ernest Nathaniel Bennett 3,537 18.8
Majority 3,197 17.0
Turnout 64.6
Unionist gain from Liberal Swing

He was out of parliament from 1918-1922 and for the 1922 General election, he sought a return to parliament in his old stomping ground of Cumberland when he contested North Cumberland. However, he was unsuccessful in wrestling the seat away from the Unionist;

General Election 15 November 1922:[11]

Electorate 21,714

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Hon. Donald Stirling Palmer Howard 8,815 50.8 n/a
Liberal Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon Howard 8,544 49.2 n/a
Majority 271 1.6 n/a
Turnout 79.9 n/a
Unionist hold Swing n/a

In 1923 another General Election occurred and this time he fought the Bedfordshire division of Luton. The Liberals were experiencing something of a revival nationally and this helped him gain the seat from the Unionists;

General Election 1923

Electorate 38,799

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon Howard 15,569 51.4
Unionist Sir John Prescott Hewett 11,738 38.7
Labour Willet Ball 2,998 9.9 -13.4
Majority 3,831 12.7
Turnout 78.1
Liberal gain from Unionist Swing

Another General Election followed a year later in 1924 and with the Unionists in the ascendency, he lost his seat;

General Election 1924

Electorate 39,701

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Terence James O'Connor 15,443 47.1
Liberal Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon Howard 11,495 35.1
Labour Philip L Millwood 5,850 17.8
Majority 3,948 12.0
Turnout 82.6
Unionist gain from Liberal Swing

This effectively ended Howard's parliamentary career as he did not contest another parliamentary seat.

Apart from his political career Howard was also a Justice of Peace and a temporary lieutenant in the Royal Naval Division in 1914.[1] In 1931 he became Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire,[12] which he remained until his death four years later.[13]


Howard married the Honourable Ethel Christian Methuen, daughter of the Field Marshal Paul Methuen, 3rd Baron Methuen, on 15 May 1915. They had five children, two daughters and three sons, including Dame Christian Howard and the life peer George Howard, Baron Howard of Henderskelfe. His other two sons, Mark and Christopher, were both killed in action in 1944. Ethel Howard died in April 1932, aged 43. Howard died in June 1935, aged 58.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon Howard
  2. ^ "Howard, the Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon (HWRT895GW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Howard family
  5. ^ a b British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)
  6. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918, Craig, F. W. S. (1974)
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28463. p. 945. 7 February 1911.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29183. p. 5384. 4 June 1915.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29189. p. 5630. 11 June 1915.
  10. ^ British parliamentary election results 1918-1949, Craig, F. W. S. (1974)
  11. ^ British parliamentary election results 1918-1949, Craig
  12. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33755. p. 6104. 22 September 1931.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34182. p. 4772. 23 July 1935.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Claude Lowther
Member of Parliament for Eskdale
1906Dec. 1910
Succeeded by
Claude Lowther
Preceded by
Sir John Fuller
Member of Parliament for Westbury
Succeeded by
George Llewellen Palmer
Preceded by
Sir John Prescott Hewett
Member of Parliament for Luton
Succeeded by
Terence O'Connor
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir John Fuller, Bt
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
Succeeded by
Cecil Beck
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Bell, Bt
Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
The Lord Bolton