John Howard

On his return to England, Mr. Howard went to reside on the small estate of Cardington, near Bedford, which had been left him by his father, and which he had increased by the purchase of an additional farm. He appears to have resided here for the next two years, leading the life of a quiet country gentleman, superintending his farms, and earning the respect and good-will of all the neighborhood, by his attention to the comforts of his tenants, and his charities to the poor. It was during this period also, on the 13th of May 1756, that he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society; an honor which did not necessarily imply that he possessed reputation as a scientific man, or even a man of brilliant abilities, but only that he was a gentleman of respectability, who, like many others of his class, took an interest in scientific pursuits. Howard's attainments in science do not seem to have ever been very great, and the only point of his character which connected him particularly with a scientific body, was his taste for meteorological observations.

On the 25th of April 1758, Mr. Howard contracted a second marriage with Miss Henrietta Leeds, eldest daughter of Edward Leeds, Esq., of Croxton, Cambridgeshire. The lady whom he had selected as his partner in life is described as amiable, affectionate, pious, and in every way worthy of such a husband. Her tastes were the same as his, and she cordially seconded all his charitable plans for the assistance and relief of those who depended upon his benevolence.

For seven years Mr. Howard enjoyed uninterrupted happiness in the society of his wife. During this period he resided first at Cardington, next for about three years at Watcombe in Hampshire, and latterly at Carding ton again. The even tenor of his existence during these years presents few incidents worth recording. Reading, gardening, and the improvement of his grounds, occupied most of his time. His meteorological observations were likewise diligently continued; and it is mentioned, as a proof of his perseverance in whatever he undertook, that on the setting in of a frost, he used to leave his bed at two o'clock every morning while it lasted, for the purpose of looking at a thermometer which he kept in his garden. His charities, as before, were profuse and systematic. His desire, and that of his wife, was to see all around them industrious and happy. To effect this, they used all the influence which their position as persons of property and wealth gave them over the villagers and cottagers in their neighborhood. One of their modes of dispensing charity was to employ persons out of work in making articles of furniture or ornament; and in this way, it is said, Mrs. Howard soon increased her stock of table-linen to a quantity greater than would ever be required by any household.

On the 31st of March 1765, Mrs. Howard died in giving birth to a son, the first and only issue of their marriage. This event was a source of poignant affliction to her husband. On the tablet which he erected to her memory in Cardington church, he caused to be inscribed the following passage from the book of Proverbs: - ' She opened her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue was the law of kindness.' Her miniature was ever after his constant companion by sea or land; and the day of her death was observed by him annually as a day of fasting, meditation and prayer.