Saint Philip Howard and His Dog

Two brothers honored a Catholic hero with their portrayal of Philip Howard and his dog in the Tower of London.

William Barraud (1810-1850), “Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel”
William Barraud (1810-1850), “Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel” (photo: Public Domain)

In a 19th century engraving (above), Sir Philip Howard, the 20th Earl of Arundel, leans against the wall above a fireplace. He has just inscribed the words “Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro.” (“The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next.”) He is young, handsome, well-dressed: he is in the Tower of London, looking toward the source of sunlight in his cell. On the floor behind him, a dog looks up at him, perhaps awakened by his master’s sigh. Someone who loves dogs—and is devoted to St. Philip Howard for his conversion, his fortitude and his example—sees the bond between owner and pet clearly in this drawing. Howard is often depicted with his dog in statues and stained glass portraits, and the group painting of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, commissioned when Howard and the others were canonized in 1970.

The engraving is attributed to William Barraud, a famous painter and illustrator, with his brother Henry, of animals: horses, cattle and dogs from sporting hounds and lap dogs. (An online search will yield many examples of his works; his brother always painted the humans in the pictures.) The painting on which this engraving is based is by Henry Barraud with William’s contribution of the greyhound. One of Henry’s sons, Francis, is famous for the painting of his terrier Nipper listening to a phonograph playing a recording from his deceased owner, used for years as the logo for EMI and RCA: His Master’s Voice.

So the brothers collaborated on this painting and engraving. But why did they choose to depict Sir Philip Howard and his dog in the Tower of London?


Jesuits in the Family

Although the Barraud family had come to England as Huguenot exiles from France after the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685 by Louis XIV less than two centuries earlier, two of William Barraud’s relatives became not only Catholics, but Jesuits. His nephew (his brother Henry’s son), Father Clement William Barraud, SJ was born in 1843. He attended Stonyhurst in Lancashire and St. Beuno’s College in North Wales (the latter with the convert and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins) and served in the West Indies. Father Barraud was an artist like his father, designing stained glass windows in the Gothic style for the Lavers, Barraud and Westlake firm before he joined the Jesuits, and was also a playwright and poet. After his work in the West Indies, he returned to St. Beuno’s and remained there until his death in 1926.

Another of William Barraud’s brothers, Edward (1817-1901), became a Jesuit lay brother in 1866 and served at Stonyhurst as an accountant for 33 years. Whether William became a Catholic or just witnessed the conversions of his nephew and brother, the records are not clear. Portraying Philip Howard—who had not even been beatified as a martyr—and his dog in the Tower of London gave the brothers the opportunity to honor a Catholic hero of the past with several connections to the Society of Jesus.


St. Philip Howard and the Jesuits

Sir Philip Howard, estranged from his wife Anne because of his activities at Elizabeth I’s court, was brought back to the Catholic Church first by hearing the Jesuit priest Edmund Campion dispute with several Anglican divines in the Tower of London at the end of August in 1581. His wife had already become a Catholic and Howard was influenced by her conversion. Then, on Sept. 30. 1584, Father William Weston, SJ reconciled Howard to the Catholic Church. He and his wife sheltered other Jesuit priests at Arundel Castle. Elizabethan authorities knew of Howard’s conversion and were watching him.

After Howard was arrested and confined to the Tower of London in 1585 because he had tried to escape England, Anne continued to welcome Jesuits to her household, including Father Robert Southwell. He wrote an Epistle of Comfort for Howard to read in the Tower. Southwell was held in solitary confinement there for a time during Howard’s ten-year incarceration. Howard’s dog carried messages between him and Southwell.

Howard lived every day under what he thought was a sentence of death, even though Elizabeth I never signed the warrant for his execution after he was found guilty of treason for supposedly praying for the success of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The dog brought him some comfort and companionship, but even more his life of prayer and asceticism sustained him and prepared him for death which finally came—not by the headman’s ax, but of dysentery—on Oct. 19, 1595.


The Loyalty of a Dog

Howard enjoyed the companionship of his dog and yet I think he must have known how hard it was for an active dog like a greyhound to share his imprisonment. Howard was a young man, in love with his wife, longing to see his son and daughter, used to exercise and activity, hunting, jousting and dancing at Court; yet he surrendered all those hopes and good things to be faithful in his prison cell to Jesus and His Church. Since I enjoy the company of dogs, I’ve written a poem about Howard and his dog:

Faithful old dog, do you recall

            The days of frolic and fun?

When walls were trees,

            Stone floors were earth and

            Low ceilings sky and sun?

When you and my other hounds

            Sighted the deer and coursed?

But captive now, your eyes follow me

            As I pace and pray, and wait

            And wait in this cell for death.

If you so dumb, can be so true,

            And trusted to carry words

To him whom my dearest love doth know—

            If you, so strong can be so meek,

            What else can I do—?

But bear affliction in this world for

            Glory with Christ in the next—but Oh!—

How I long to see you course

            And run as you once did run,

            Chasing the deer and finding him in the glorious sun!

Accounts of Howard’s life don’t tell us what happened to the dog after Howard died, or even what its name was. Perhaps it was returned to Arundel Castle, and lived out its days with Anne.