Northampton, Henry Howard, earl of (nôrthămpˈtən) [key], 1540–1614, English courtier; son of the poet, Henry Howard, earl of Surrey; member of the powerful Howard family. His public career under Elizabeth I was marked by a charge of intrigue with Mary Queen of Scots and imprisonment (1583–85) for suspected heresy and treason. He attached himself to Robert Devereux, 2d earl of Essex, at the height of that nobleman's ascendancy, as well as to Essex's enemy, Robert Cecil (later earl of Salisbury). James I made Howard a privy councilor (1603), earl of Northampton (1604), and lord privy seal (1608). He became (1612) the king's principal minister on Salisbury's death. He supported the divorce of his grandniece, Frances Howard, from the 3d earl of Essex, and was responsible for the imprisonment of Sir Thomas Overbury, although presumably not for his murder.
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