Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk

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His Grace
The Duke of Norfolk
Henry Fitzalan-Howard (about 1908)
Earl Marshal
In office
25 November 1860 – 11 February 1917
Preceded by The 14th Duke of Norfolk
Succeeded by The 16th Duke of Norfolk
Postmaster General
In office
6 July 1895 – 10 April 1900
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by Arnold Morley
Succeeded by The Marquess of Londonderry
Personal details
Born 27 December 1847 (1847-12-27)
Died 11 February 1917 (1917-02-12)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) (1) Lady Flora Abney-Hastings (1854-1887)
(2) Gwendolen Constable-Maxwell (1877-1945)
Children 5
Religion Roman Catholicism

Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk, KG, GCVO, VD, PC (27 December 1847 – 11 February 1917), styled Baron Maltravers until 1856 and Earl of Arundel and Surrey between 1856 and 1860, was a British Unionist politician and philanthropist. He served as Postmaster General between 1895 and 1900, but is best remembered for his philanthropic work, which concentrated on Roman Catholic causes and the city of Sheffield.


Norfolk was the eldest son of Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 14th Duke of Norfolk, and Augusta Mary Minna Catherine, younger daughter of Edmund Lyons, 1st Baron Lyons. Edmund Fitzalan-Howard, 1st Viscount Fitzalan of Derwent, was his younger brother.[1] The Duke was educated at The Oratory School.

Political career

Norfolk succeeded to the dukedom in 1860 on the death of his father. He also succeeded to the hereditary office of Earl Marshal held by the Dukes of Norfolk. In 1895 he was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Postmaster General[2] by Lord Salisbury, a post he held until the government was reorganised in 1900. In July 1897 he was appointed the first Lord Mayor of Sheffield, which he remained until November of the same year. In 1900 he became the first Mayor of Westminster.[3] In 1900, at age 53, he went to the Second Boer War.[citation needed]

Apart from serving as Earl Marshal between 1860 and 1917, Norfolk was Lord Lieutenant of Sussex between 1905 and 1917. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1886[4] and an honorary Freeman of the City of Sheffield in 1900.[citation needed]


As is common with the Dukes of Norfolk (but exceptional within the British aristocracy), Norfolk was a Roman Catholic. In his dual role as Premier Duke and most prominent Roman Catholic in England, he undertook a programme of philanthropy which served in part to reintegrate Roman Catholics into civic life. He was born a generation after the Catholic Relief Act 1829 but before the reconstitution of Roman Catholic dioceses in 1850. By the time he came of age as Duke in 1868, the process of Catholic Emancipation had made the establishment of Catholic institutions legal, but the reality of two hundred years of legislation in favour of the Church of England left Roman Catholics with few structures of their own.[citation needed]

Norfolk's first major benefaction commemorated his coming of age as Duke. At his ancestral seat of Arundel Castle (being also one of the Earls of Arundel), he sponsored the construction of the Church of Our Lady and St Philip Neri between 1868 and 1873. This church was later chosen to serve as Arundel Cathedral in 1965 and rededicated in 1971 to include Saint Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel, one of his ancestors.[citation needed]

In 1877, he married his first wife, Lady Flora Hastings. He later wrote, 'Shortly after my most happy marriage, I wished to build a church as a thank-offering to God.' To commemorate this occasion, he undertook construction of a church in his titular ancestral seat in Norwich, Norfolk. After commencing in 1882 with a gift of £200,000, construction would not be completed until 1910, nearly 23 years after Lady Flora's death in 1887. This church was also later chosen to serve as St John the Baptist Cathedral, Norwich when the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia was re-established in 1976.[citation needed]

From 1898 on, he edited, together with Charles Tindal Gatty, the hymnal Arundel Hymns, to which Pope Leo XIII contributed a preface in form of a personal letter.[5]

The 15th Duke also donated funds for the building of the University of Sheffield and was its initial Chancellor between 1905 and 1917. With Baron Anatole von Hügel, he also co-founded St Edmunds College, Cambridge. He was also a significant contributor to the Father Damien fund to fight leprosy. He also contributed funds to the construction of major Roman Catholic churches in Canada.[citation needed]


In 1877, Norfolk married as his first wife, Lady Flora Paulyna Hetty Barbara (1854-1887), daughter of Charles Abney-Hastings, 1st Baron Donington and Edith Rawdon-Hastings, 10th Countess of Loudoun, in 1877. They had one child:

  • Philip Joseph Mary Fitzalan-Howard, Earl of Surrey, Earl of Arundel (7 September 1879 – 8 July 1902), died unmarried.

After Lady Flora's death in April 1887, aged 33, he remained unmarried for nearly twenty-seven years.

In February 1904,[6][7] at age 56, he married, as his second wife, his first cousin once removed, the Hon. Gwendolen Constable-Maxwell, eldest daughter of Marmaduke Constable-Maxwell, 11th Lord Herries of Terregles and the Hon. Angela Mary Charlotte, daughter of Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Glossop. She was 30 years his junior, and aged 27 at their wedding. They had four children:

  • Lady (Mary) Rachel Fitzalan-Howard (1905–1992), married 1) (1939) Colin Keppel Davidson, 2) (1961) Anthony Hilton Pepys
  • Bernard Fitzalan-Howard, 16th Duke of Norfolk (1908–1975), married (1937) the Hon. Lavinia Mary Strutt, and had issue four daughters.
  • Lady Katherine Mary Fitzalan-Howard, (1912–2000), married (1940) (Joseph) Anthony Moore Phillips, and had issue
  • Lady Winefride Alice Fitzalan-Howard, (1914–2006), married (1943) Lt.-Col. John Edward Broke Freeman, and had issue.

In 1908 Gwendolen succeeded her father as Lady Herries of Terregles. The Duke of Norfolk died in February 1917, aged 69, and was succeeded in the dukedom by his only surviving son, Bernard. On his death, Lord Curzon said he was a man "who was diffident about powers which were in excess of the ordinary". The Duchess of Norfolk died in August 1945, aged 68. She was succeeded in the Scottish lordship of parliament by her son, Bernard.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 thepeerage.com Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk
  2. The London Gazette: no. 26642. p. 3876. 9 July 1895.
  3. "The London Borough Councils. Election of Mayors and Aldermen". The Times. 10 November 1900. p. 14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. The London Gazette: no. 25561. p. 848. 23 February 1886.
  5. Arundel Hymns online
  6. "Stately Homes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain: Everingham Park"
  7. thepeerage.com "Gwendoline Mary Herries, Lady Herries of Terregles"
Political offices
Preceded by
Arnold Morley
Postmaster General
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Londonderry
Preceded by
New Position
Lord Mayor of Sheffield
July 1897–Nov. 1897
Succeeded by
George Franklin
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Norfolk
Earl Marshal
Succeeded by
The Duke of Norfolk
Preceded by
The Marquess of Abergavenny
Lord Lieutenant of Sussex
Succeeded by
The Lord Leconfield
Academic offices
Preceded by
New position
Chancellor of the University of Sheffield
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Crewe
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Henry Fitzalan-Howard
Duke of Norfolk
Succeeded by
Bernard Fitzalan-Howard