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Edward William Howes

Edward William Howes

Male 1906 - 1989  (83 years)

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  • Name Edward William Howes  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Birth Abt 1905  St Anne's on the Sea, Lancashire Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Birth Abt 1906  St Anne's on the Sea, Lancashire Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Born 16 Apr 1906  St Anne's on the Sea, Lancashire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Birth 16 Apr 1906  [2
    Birth Abt May 1906  Fylde RD, Lancashire Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Residence 2 Apr 1911  Rose Mount Lodge, Woldingham, Surrey Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence 19 Jun 1921  The Garage, Great South Hawke, Woldingham, Surrey Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Occupation Between 1927 and 1971  [6
    Butler 
    Death Abt Nov 1989  Scarborough RD, Yorkshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Death 20 Nov 1989  [1
    Name Edward Howes  [7
    Name Edward W Howes  [8
    Died 20 Nov 1989  Scarborough RD, Yorkshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Abt 25 Nov 1989  New Cemetery, Bangor, Caernarvonshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Notes 
    • Article in the Observer, April 1, 2018, reprinted from 1971:
      What the butler saw: It’s 1971 and a gentleman’s butler reveals many of the secrets of his trade
      =================================
      In 1971, being a gentleman’s butler was still a revered if endangered profession, and the Observer Magazine tracked down one of the last of his kind.

      Edward Howes, butler to Sir Michael Duff, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Caernarvonshire, was exactly what you’d imagine a butler to be like – basically Carson from Downton Abbey but balder.

      When our journalist met Edward, he was dressed in pinstriped trousers, black tails and shoes so polished they could probably damage a retina if the sun reflected off them.

      Edward had just retired after a lifetime’s service to Sir Michael, whom he counted as a close friend. ‘We’ve had arguments and discussions, but never a row,’ says Edward, and after 30 years of darning someone’s underwear that is no mean feat.

      Darning aside, being a butler sounds more fun than one would imagine. Edward recounts ‘with a chuckle’ the debauchery that often occurred downstairs when Sir Michael was out of town: ‘The master hardly had his back turned before there was a party in the house. Footmen, valets and maids from round about came and pushed back the drawing room furniture and danced to the early hours.’

      The servants also had access to an unlimited supply of beer. ‘The royal servants were always the biggest culprits,’ says Edward. ‘I like a beer myself, but I don’t care to be awash with it – I’m more serious about wine.’

      Beer and house parties? Butlering sounds all right. And if those weren’t perks enough, Edward was given his own small pile, Howes Hall, in the grounds of the Vaynol Estate, which he shared with his wife, a former housemaid.

      When asked whether he would miss his butlering days, our journalist notes that: ‘Edward looks into the middle distance – like a man who once saw the Grail,’ before concluding, ‘I prefer retirement.’
    • This article appeared in The Guardian in 2024, also apparently reprinted from the original Observer piece in 1971
      The last of England’s grand butlers, 1971
      As Edward Howes retired from his career as a manservant, so too the country’s social order was changing

      In 1971, the Observer bade farewell not just to Edward Howes – the second-last ‘genuinely grand’ butler in England – but to a whole way of life.

      Howes entered service in 1928 aged 15 as a ‘hall boy’ in Eaton Square. It was another time in many ways: manservants had to be at least 6ft tall and were forbidden to wear glasses, shoes were polished with a bone, and clothes were folded, never hung. ‘Coat hangers are recent,’ he said.

      Explaining how he came to work for Sir Michael Duff, aged 21, Howes used the language of quasi-possession. ‘I was Sir Michael’s first servant of his own… Lady Juliet… decided I would do for her son.’

      The two seem to have rubbed along happily for the intervening decades. ‘He’s been a good friend,’ Howes said of his employer. Sir Michael was ‘very wealthy and very eligible and we went to stay at every great house in England’. There were ‘glittering parties’ and high-profile encounters (the Prince of Wales ‘always had too much cuff showing’). Howes was promoted to butler at 27, married at 33 and settled in a ‘solid house, of style and size’ in the grounds of Duff’s North Wales mansion, Vaynol, until the war.

      After war work in a factory, it was back to business as usual for Howes, albeit with a skeleton staff. If ‘outside, the old social order was peeling’, inside, the fun wasn’t quite over. Howes abetted his employer by serving an entire meal backwards (‘liqueurs to start, soup to finish’) to tease the local gentry and welcomed the royal family to Vaynol on a short-notice visit: ‘the greatest thrill of his working life’.

      Of course, Howes served at his own retirement party. Having replied to his employer’s toast (‘his emotion was admirably regulated just enough to show’), he gave ‘Two signals: one to the footmen to resume table service, the other, invisible but equally obvious, to the guests to return to the natural order of things’. [7]
    Person ID I40981  ONS
    Last Modified 18 Mar 2024 

    Father Edward Howes,   b. 26 Oct 1879, Macclesfield, Cheshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Dec 1955, East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, Surrey Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years) 
    Mother Edna Eliza Hancock,   b. 9 Nov 1882, Birmingham, Warwickshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 May 1964, 61 Cromwell Road, Redhill, Surrey Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Married Abt May 1905  Leek RD, Staffordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [9
    Family ID F12560  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Eva Louisa Grainge,   b. Abt Aug 1897, Winslow RD, Buckinghamshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt Aug 1988, Bangor RD, Caernarvonshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 91 years) 
    Married Abt Aug 1933  Henley RD, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [8
    Children 
    +1. Living
    Last Modified 1 Apr 2018 
    Family ID F40793  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBirth - Abt May 1906 - Fylde RD, Lancashire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - Abt Aug 1933 - Henley RD, Oxfordshire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDeath - Abt Nov 1989 - Scarborough RD, Yorkshire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 20 Nov 1989 - Scarborough RD, Yorkshire Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Edward William Howes
    Edward William Howes

  • Sources 
    1. [S1358] BillionGraves.com, www.billiongraves.com, 4328791.

    2. [S480] BMD register (England & Wales) - deaths - multiple sources.

    3. [S476] BMD register (England & Wales) - births - multiple sources.
      available online from various sources

    4. [S156] 1911 Census - England & Wales.

    5. [S3714] 1921 Census - England & Wales.

    6. [S491] Probate records - mother.

    7. [S1684] The Guardian, 2024 Mar 17.

    8. [S475] BMD register (England & Wales) - marriages - multiple sources.

    9. [S475] BMD register (England & Wales) - marriages - multiple sources.
      available online from various sources