(c. 1726 - c. 1785)
Born in London, John Howard was left independently wealthy at the age of sixteen by the death of his father, an upholstery magnate. While sailing to Lisbon in 1756, he was taken hostage by French privateers and held for a time in a Brest dungeon. Two decades later, having been appointed high sheriff of Bedfordshire, Howard undertook a comprehensive study of the sanitary conditions of English prisons. In 1785 he began touring European lazarettos for book research, shortly before dying of fever.