Howard was born in Dublin, Ireland. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with an M.A. and was ordained in Ireland as deacon in the Church of England. Removing to the diocese of Chester he was ordained priest, and was curate at Broughbridge, Yorkshire, and afterwards incumbent of Hambleton. He was then appointed colonial chaplain in South Australia, sailed with Governor Hindmarsh on the Buffalo in July 1836, and arrived at Adelaide on 28 December. There was no building in Adelaide suitable for the holding of a service, so Howard borrowed a large sail from a ship, with his friend Osmond Gilles, the colonial treasurer, dragged it seven miles from the sea on a hand cart, converted the sail into a tent, and held service in it. A wooden church was afterwards sent out from England, but its frame was so flimsy that Howard decided to have a stone church built. On 26 January 1838 the foundation stone was laid of the Church of the Holy Trinity. For nearly a year he was the only clergyman in South Australia and his only religious controversy was with Bishop Broughton who claimed jurisdiction in the province. Howard laboured alone for his church until 1840, when he was joined by the Rev. James Farrell, afterwards dean of Adelaide. In July 1843 Howard became ill, and he was also much worried by a demand for the payment of the debt on the church, for which he had made himself jointly responsible. He died at Adelaide on 19 July 1843 leaving a widow and young family.
Howard was fitted in the highest degree for his position. Broad-minded, scholarly, earnest and sympathetic, he was devoted to his work.