Charles Howard came from a family skilled in the mechanical arts who moved into being small-time merchants and landowners. His ancestor, Jonas Howard (1664-1713) of Thorne in Yorkshire, was a ship's carpenter whose son, Joseph Howard (1687-1733) was a 'keelman'. His son, Richard Howard (1714-1787), was Charles's grandfather, who became a wine merchant in Hull and lived in Sutton Hall. Richard married Ann, the daughter of John Garton, a Beverley maltster and their son, John Howard, was born in 1847. John Howard was given a liberal education which was completed at Leiden University (his father had business connections in Holland) and he was to have been a physician. However, he followed his father into business, spending some of his early years in Russia and dealing in tar and tiles.
John Howard married Jane (1750-1806) the daughter of Isaac Broadley, a wine merchant of considerable standing in the local community with a large house called Brantingham Thorpe. Charles Howard was their third child and he was born in 1778. The autobiographical notes of Charles Broadley mention that as a child his trips to the house of his maternal grandfather were considerably more fun than those to Sutton Hall, the house of his paternal grandfather! John Howard was not a healthy man and he died at the age of 46 in 1792 leaving his wife with a very large family to bring up in their house in North Street in Hull.
Charles Howard went to Hull Grammar School, but was expelled the year after his father's death, whereupon he was boarded out with a number of people in the countryside. This was to shape his future and he purchased a cottage and 86 acres of farmland in 1798. Two years later, instead of going into the army to serve in Canada, he married the niece of a woman residing in his mother's house and they started farming as tenants of Sir Henry Vavasour at Melbourne near Pocklington. In 1813 they moved to Sutton farm at Sutton on Derwent near York, still as tenants of the Vavasours, and there is correspondence in the collection from members of the Vavasour family as well as the Constable family who were at nearby Everingham Park. Charles Howard was fairly active at the local community level; in 1813 he was lieutenant of the Everingham troop of yeomanry and he became the first honorary secretary of the Yorkshire agricultural society.
Charles and Mary Howard had eight children. Their eldest son, Charles (b.1801) was drowned at sea while on an educational trip to France in 1813. Their second son, William (b.1802), became steward of the York Lunatic Assylum. Their third son, Richard (b.1805), died as an infant. Isaac (b.1806) also died as an infant. The fifth son, another Richard (b.1807), became a physician and died young in 1848. John Broadley Howard (b.1809), had a minor customs post in Australia and died there in 1858 leaving descendants. Their daughter, Mary (b.1810), was expected to stay home and look after them in their old age, but ran away and married an apothecary, Thomas Cole Peacock. Her diaries are the most extensive in the collection. Their daughter, Mary Howard Peacock, was born in 1837 and died unmarried in 1886.
In 1824 Charles and Mary Howard moved back to Melbourne, building a new house there. This created financial difficulties for them and in 1831 Charles had to raise the money to reduce his acreage. He died at Melbourne in 1854, just a few weeks after his wife.
Charles and Mary Howard's youngest child, Joseph (b.1812), became station master at Darfield and married Lavinia Skipwith. He died in 1861 and the records of the family passed to his daughter Harriet Jane Howard who died in 1923. When she died intestate they passed to Alyn Guest-Williams, a great grandson of Charles Howard's sister, Ann Elizabeth Gray. He was a keen genealogist and he worked on the papers and preserved them until his own death in 1974 when they were passed to a second cousin, Irvine E Gray.
The papers of Charles and Mary Howard and their family were donated to the Brynmor Jones Library in 1975 by Irvine Gray. They mostly comprise correspondence, diaries and some genealogical material.
The early correspondence (DHD/1-5) is that of the Broadley family and must have been in the possession of Mary Howard whose mother was a Broadley. However, the bulk of the correspondence is addressed to Charles Howard (1778-1854), to his wife Mary (d.1854) and to his daughter, Mary (1810-1887), and her daughter, also Mary (1837-1886). Amongst the miscellaneous letters is one from John Garton Howard (son of Charles Howard) to his sister about the impending marriage of his daughter, Mary Jane, to the Reverend F G Lugard, chaplain of Madras. Their son became Lord Lugard, a distinguished colonial administrator.
Only four diaries survive for Charles Howard (1820, 1822, 1824, 1831) and a fragment (1832) but they are of interest for their detailed despcriptions of farming operations in the East Riding. His wife's diaries also cover an earlier period, but are, again, quite fragmentary; they have value as a record of the daily life of a farmer's wife with a large family. The most extensive diaries are those of their daughter (married Thomas Cole Peacock) and they survive from when she was eleven (1821) to 1885, a couple of years before she died. Quite a number are fragments only, and the full diaries record a few sentences for each day. They have value as a record of local social life and family affairs.
The genealogical material was assembled by Alyn Guest-Williams and includes material on local families such as that of Broadley and Bethell. There is correspondence to Harriet Jane Howard (through whom the papers descended) about the Lugard family. Miscellaneous material includes a postcard with miniatures of Richard Howard (1714-1787) and John Howard (1747-1793); a draft of the will of Elizabeth Hancock of Beverley (1782); the probate copy of the will of Ann Howard (1794); the opinion of P Johnson of York on the will of Christopher Bayles with regard to the upbringing of Elizabeth Leeke; a list of pupils at Ripon Grammar School (1818); some memorial cards including those of Charles and Mary Howard and pictures of Brantingham Thorpe, the home of the Broadley family.