Howick has been owned by the Grey family since 1319. Lady Mary Grey, the elder daughter of Charles 5th Earl Grey, was the last member of the family to be called Grey. She inherited the Estate from her father in 1963 and died aged 94 in 2001, and it is now the home of her son Charles, 2nd Lord Howick of Glendale, and his wife Clare; they have four married children and 14 grandchildren so far. His father was Evelyn Baring, who had a distinguished career in the Colonial Service and the Commonwealth Development Corporation from 1942 until 1970, and he became the 1st Lord Howick of Glendale in 1960.
The 1st Earl Grey was a General who lacked a 'good' war to advance his career. He made his name in the early stages of the American War of Independence, particularly with one surprise night attack, when he made his men remove the flints from their muskets to prevent one being discharged accidentally, thereby warning the enemy, and made them instead rely on their bayonets; thereafter he was known as 'No-flint Grey'. He also introduced marching in step on manoeuvres as a method of moving an army around more quickly, which had not been used since the Romans. In 1793, early in the Napoleonic Wars, he was sent out to the West Indies with Admiral Sir John Jervis (later Lord St. Vincent) to capture Martinique and Guadeloupe, which they did successfully. He lived at Fallodon, four miles north of Howick.
His eldest son, Charles, became 2nd Earl Grey and he is the best-known member of the family. He was the leading Whig politician of the early 1800s, succeeding Charles James Fox, when the Tories were in the ascendant for 30 years under George III and IV, before becoming Prime Minister in 1830. He introduced the Great Reform Bill of 1832, the first major step towards modern parliamentary democracy, in the teeth of opposition from the Duke of Wellington, his predecessor in 10 Downing Street. He had 15 children from one wife, all of whom survived. He inherited Howick from his bachelor uncle, Sir Henry Grey, on the condition that he renounced all claim to Fallodon.
Henry, 3rd Earl Grey was another active Whig politician and for a time was Colonial Secretary in the 1840s, as a result of which there are a number of places called Howick in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. He retired suddenly to Howick in middle age and took no further part in public life. Although married, he had no children, and the title passed on his death in 1894 to his eldest nephew, Albert 4th Earl Grey, the son of General Sir Charles Grey who was Queen Victoria's first Private Secretary. Albert was a great believer in the British Empire, working in South Africa and Rhodesia, before ending up as Governor-General of Canada. Charles 5th Earl was his son and he spent most of his life paying off his ancestors' debts deriving from their political activities. He and his wife, Mabel Palmer, were great gardeners and transformed the gardens at Howick to what they now are.