The politician and antiquary, Henry Hoyle Howorth, was born in Lisbon, Portugal, on 1 July 1842, where his father, Henry Howorth, was operating as a merchant. He was educated at Rossall School, and was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple (1867) and joined the Northern Circuit. He was elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for South Salford in July 1886, and retired from Parliament in 1900.
He was a prominent figure in the literary and social life of Manchester and North-West England in general. He was an active member of the Manchester Literary Club, and served as its Vice-President. He was also Vice-President of the Manchester Conservative Association. He was one of the founding members of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society (1883) and was later made an Honorary Member; he was also one of the founding members of the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (1878), serving as a councillor (1878-95) and Vice-President (1892-5); he was also a member of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (1879), and served as a councillor (1881-9); as well as a member of the Chetham Society also serving as a councillor (1877-1900). He was one of the Governors of Owens College, Manchester. He was one of the Feoffees of Chetham’s Hospital, and also later its Honorary Librarian. At a national level, he was a Member of the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments, one of the Trustees of the British Museum, and President of the Royal Archaeological Institute. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society, and was the society’s President (1908-14). His contribution to national life was acknowledged by his creation as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (1892).
He was a prolific author, composing letters on politics, and writing numerous works on a variety of subjects, ranging from history, such as his History of the Mongols (1876), and History of Chinghis Khan and his Ancestors, to his archaeological and geological research on The Mammoth and the Flood (1887), The Glacial Nightmare (1893), and Ice or Water? (1905). He was particularly opposed to the glacial theory in geology. His interest in Christianity also led to his works on Augustine the Missionary (1913), and The Golden Days of the Early English Church from the Arrival of Theodore to the Death of Bede (1917). He was also the author of numerous papers and contributions to a variety of scientific societies, and a series of letters to The Times on various political and fiscal subjects. He also edited an account of The Vicars of Rochdale by Rev. Canon Francis Robert Raines which was published in two parts by the Chetham Society (1883). His research activities were recognised in the award of the honorary degree of Doctor of Canon Law by the University of Durham, and by his election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and later as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was living at Lexham Gardens, London, when he died, aged 81, on 15 July 1923, and he was buried at Putney Vale Cemetery, London.
He had married in 1869, and his wife - who predeceased him in 1921 - bore him a son, Sir Rupert Beswicke Howorth, K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., C.B., J.P., F.S.A. (1880-1964) who was Clerk to the Privy Council (1938-42), Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (1930-42), Secretary to the Imperial Conferences of 1923, 1926, 1930, and 1937, and later Secretary of the Commissions of the Peace (1945-6).
Manchester Evening News, 10 July 1923.
Manchester City News, 21 July 1923.
Observer, 5 Jan 1964.
- Raines, F.R., The Vicars of Rochdale: Part I, ed. H.H. Howorth, Chetham Society, new ser., 1 (1883).
- Raines, F.R., The Vicars of Rochdale: Part II, ed. H.H. Howorth, Chetham Society, new ser., 2 (1883).
Sunday Times, 5 Jan 1964.
The Times, 6 Jan 1964; 16 Jan 1964; 4 Feb 1964; 15 May 1964.
Who's Who of British Members of Parliament, II: 1885-1918, ed. M. Stenton and S. Lees (Harvester Press, Sussex, 1978), p. 182.
From the guide to the The Sir Henry Hoyle Howorth Collection, 1291-1537, (Chetham's Library)