A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.


William Howe

10 August 1729 - 12 July 1814

William Howe was born on 10 August 1729 in England. He joined the military at age 17, and his ability was so apparent that he made Lieutenant within a year. In 1758, Howe entered the realm of politics as a Parliamentary representative for Nottingham (an office he held for 22 years). In October 1775, Howe replaced Thomas Gage as Commander-in-Chief of British forces in North America. He expected an easy victory against the colonies, but when the colonists proved formidable enemies at the Battle of Bunker Hill, he lost confidence in himself and his army. In 1778, Howe was replaced by General Henry Clinton and resigned from the army under criticism. He returned to England in 1782 where he was elected to the King's Privy Council. In 1799, he inherited his elder brother's Irish title and became fifth Viscount Howe. He died of illness on 12 July 1814 in Plymouth, England.