1689, George Howse, a gentleman, seeks employment and to serve William III

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1680s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online, George Howse, gentleman. SP 32/2 f. 4 (1689).

To the Kings most excellent majestie

The humble petion of George Howse gentleman 

Most humbly sheweth

That your petioner being ambitious to searve your majestie in your majesties kingdom of Ierland was cheifly [cons…?] with two others in raiseing of a thousand men privitly for your majesties service in the citty of Dublin in November and December last expecting your majesties forces would have bein landed by that time for which your petitioner made all the preperation that possable could be dun secretly in hopes to joyne your majesties armie but your petitioner being discovered was forced to make his escape in a [disguise?] for [severall?] leages at sea in a small boat and meeting a vessell by chance bound for England your petitioner was by Gods great mercy deliver =ed as well from the rageing seas as from the barbarous cruelty of the Irish losseing an estate to the value of 400 pounds per annum besides money stock and goods to the value of two thousand pounds starling and your petitioner being left in a deplorable con= =dition made him uncapable of goeing vollentere with your majesties forces for Ierland for being drove to so much poverty was not able to procure as much money as would carry him thear with the armie

Therefor your petitioner humbley prayeth that your majestie would be gratiously pleased to put your petitioner in to some imployment wherby your petitioner might be capable of searveing your majestie either in this kingdom or in any other place whersoever your majestie will be pleased to command him 

And your petitioner shall as in duty bound for ever pray

Report by Howard Greenwood

In his petition George Howse described how he secretly raised 1,000 men to serve the King in Dublin at the end of 1688, expecting his forces to have landed by then. Having been discovered he escaped in a small boat, in disguise, and boarding by chance a vessel bound for England was delivered from the raging seas and ‘the barbarous cruelty of the Irish’. He lost an estate valued at £400 per annum and money, stock and goods worth £2,000 and was now too poor to join the King’s forces and return to Ireland. He asked that the King grant him some employment so he might serve him in England or elsewhere.

The first thing to grapple with here is the surname, is it Howes or the more unusual Howse? Both are possible but neither route points to a person who could definitively be this petitioner.

What the petition describes is an uprising in Ireland near Dublin, in November/December 1688, in support of William III (who had deposed James II), or preparations for the same, prior to the arrival of William’s forces from England. The bad news is that it seems to have passed off without comment as far as general historical commentaries are concerned. George does not mention any actual fighting and this may have helped to diminish any significance his efforts may have had. Indeed, there were skirmishes in December 1688 between militia forces raised by Irish Protestants, in the main supporters of William, and forces loyal to James II but these took place in Derry.[1]

There is a mention of a petition from a George Howes in March 1694:

A Petition of George Howes was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, That James Beverly, Grandson of Sir James Beverly, is indebted to the Petitioner 29 l. 18s. on Simple Contract: That there is a Bill now depending in this House for vesting the Estate of the said Sir James Beverly in Trustees, to be sold: And praying, That the Petitioner’s said Debt may be secured, as the other Creditors are.

Ordered, That the Consideration of the said Petition be referred to the Committee, to whom the said Bill is committed.[2]

However, there is unfortunately no way of making a definitive connection between these two petitioners.


[1] ‘Siege of Derry’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Derry.

[2] ‘House of Commons Journal Volume 11: 22 March 1694’, in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 11, 1693-1697 (London, 1803), pp. 134-136. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol11/pp134-136.

This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of James II, William III and Mary II, 1685-1699’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.