Martin Howard – Loyalist


Martin Howard (1725–1781) was a politician in colonial Rhode Island. An eminent lawyer and politician, and had been a delegate from Rhode Island to the Albany Congress. He was the only prominent American to publicly support the Stamp Act of 1765, in his pamphlet “A Letter from a Gentleman at Halifax to His Friend in Rhode Island,” (1765) in which he asserted that Parliament had the power to impose taxes on the colonies. Fleeing Rhode Island, he was appointed Chief Justice of North Carolina (1767–1775). A Loyalist, he returned to England when the Revolution broke out.

Howard was born probably in 1725 and grew up in Rhode Island where his family had moved in 1726. Although raised a Baptist, he became active in the Anglican Church in Newport. Elected to the assembly in 1756, he served on the committee that revised the colony’s laws in 1760.

In 1765, Howard was appointed by the Crown, jointly with Dr. Moffatt and Augustus Johnson, stamp masters for Rhode Island. They came under attack and their houses were burned. Tax protesters carried his effigy through the streets, hoisting it 15 feet high with a noose around the neck. Howard fled to England and was rewarded by the Crown with an appointment as Chief Justice of North Carolina at a salary of ₤1000.