Howe, the name of two brothers who commanded British forces during the American Revolution. Richard Howe was commander of the British fleet in North American waters, 1776–78. Sir William Howe was commander in chief of the British army in the American colonies, 1775–78. Both brothers favored conciliation with the American patriots and were authorized to act as peace negotiators.

Richard Howe,

Earl Howe (1726–1799), was the leading British admiral of his day. Howe entered the navy in 1740 and commanded vessels with distinction in the Seven Years' War (1756–63). He became fourth Viscount Howe in 1758 and was treasurer of the navy, 1765–70. During the Revolutionary War Howe gave naval support to his brother's Long Island campaign (1776) and forced a French fleet to abandon the siege of Rhode Island (1778).

Howe was made a full admiral in 1782. In that year he relieved Gibraltar from a siege by a superior force of French and Spanish ships. Howe was first lord of the admirality, 1783–88, and was made an earl in 1788. In 1794 he defeated a French fleet in the Battle of the Glorious First of June, near Ushant, a French island. One of Howe's greatest contributions was to create an effective signal system for the navy.

Sir William Howe,

Fifth Viscount Howe after 1799 (1729–1814), entered the army in 1746. Howe took part in the capture of Quebec in 1759, during the French and Indian War. He replaced General Thomas Gage as commander in chief in America after leading British troops in the Battle of Bunker Hill (1775). Howe abandoned Boston, but in 1776 he launched a campaign against New York City. Although Howe badly defeated the Continental Army in the battles of Long Island and White Plains, he failed to pursue. Howe captured Philadelphia in 1777, winning the battles of Brandy wine and Germantown, but again failed to crush the patriots. Irked by criticism, he resigned his command in May, 1778.

Historians have blamed Howe for not following up his successes, while conceding that he was an able general on the battlefield. Howe was made a full general in 1793 and succeeded his brother as Viscount Howe in 1799. He had been knighted in 1776.