Who was Ralph Neville?
...Grandson of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland
...Grandson-in-law of Earl of Warwick
...Son-in-law of Earl of Stafford
...Son-in-law of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, King of Castile
...Married to granddaughter of King Edward III of England
...Married to cousin of King Richard II of England
...Brother-in-law of King Henry IV of England
...Grandfather of King Edward IV of England
...Grandfather of King Richard III of England
...Grandfather of Henry Lord Scrope of Bolton
This is a short pedigree of Ralph:
Father: Sir John de Neville, 3rd Baron Neville b. c 1330 d. 17 Oct 1388
Paternal grandfather: Ralph de Neville, 2nd Lord Neville b. c 1291 d. 5 Aug 1367
Paternal grandmother: Alice Audley b. c 1304 d. 12 Jan 1373/74
Mother: Maud de Percy b. c 1335 d. 18 Feb 1379
Maternal grandfather: Sir Henry Percy, 2nd Lord Percy b. 6 Feb 1301 d. 26 Feb 1351/52
Maternal grandmother: Idoine de Clifford b. c 1300 d. 24 Aug 1365
Ralph Neville was my ancestor 21 generations ago on at least three lines. That’s not surprising, considering that he sired 23 children by his two wives. His Neville pedigree is known for 11 previous generations, going back to Neuville-sur-Touques [48-51'-40.92'' N by 0-16'-55.17" E], France, in the early ninth century. Google Earth shows this site as a long ridge surrounded by farmland.
There are several Ralph Nevilles over several hundred years, and because his son Ralph Neville married his step-sister Mary Ferrers (my ancestor on another line), I was confused about who this Ralph was. So here's a timeline of a very important personage in medieval England.
1364: Ralph Neville, 1st earl Westmorland, was born at Castle Raby, Durham, son of Sir John Neville, KG, 3rd Baron Neville, and Maud de Percy. Ralph was the fifth of eight children.
1380: Knighted by Thomas of Woodstock on Brittany expedition.
1382: Ralph and Lady Margaret de Stafford married, both about 18 years of age.
Margaret de Stafford (1364 – October 18, 1396) was the second daughter of Hugh de Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford and Philippa de Beauchamp, daughter of Thomas de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and Katherine de Mortimer. Margaret became the first wife of Ralph de Neville. See article on Margaret's grandfather, Ralph Stafford, 1st Earl Stafford, here.
Margaret was a maternal first cousin of the 1st Earl of Worcester and the 13th Earl of Warwick; as well as a maternal aunt of the soldier and commander William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk and a paternal aunt of the military commander Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham.
Lady Margaret, Baroness Raby, had nine children by Ralph de Neville, two of whom are my ancestors:
1. Maud de Neville (d. October 1438), married Piers de Mauley, 5th Baron Mauley
2. Alice Neville, married first Sir Thomas Grey of Heton; married second Sir Gilbert Lancaster
3. Philippa de Neville, married Thomas de Dacre, 6th Baron Dacre
4. John de Neville, Lord Neville (d. 1420)
5. Sir Ralph Neville, married Mary Ferrers, his step-sister, daughter of Sir Robert Ferrers and Joan Beaufort and had issue
6. Elizabeth de Neville, a nun
7. Anne de Neville, married Sir Gilbert Umfraville
8. Margaret Neville, Baroness Scrope of Bolton, married first Richard Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Bolton and had issue before he died two years later; married second William Cressoner.
9. Anastasia de Neville
1385: Joint Keeper of the castle and city of Carlisle
1386: Joint warden of west march of Yorkshire with his father.
1388: Ralph, age 24, became the fifth Baron Neville de Raby at the death of his father. Baron Neville de Raby, also referred to as Baron Raby, was an ancient title in the Peerage of England. It was first created around 1295 for his ancestor Ralph Neville, 1262-1331.
1389: Keeper of forests beyond the Trent
1396: Keeper of Wark Castle (Percy territory) until 1425
1396: Wife Margaret de Stafford died Oct. 18, aged 32, after bearing nine children (seven girls, two boys) in 14 years; she was buried in St Brandon’s Church, Brancepeth Castle, Durham.
1397: Feb. 3, Ralph Neville married Joan Beaufort Ferrers, daughter of Katherine Roet Swynford and John of Gaunt (son of King Edward III).
Joan de Beaufort was born about 1375. Joan, although granddaughter of a king, and daughter of the Duke of Lancaster, was illegitimate at the time of her first marriage to Robert de Ferrers, Baron Wemme, descendant of the earls of Derby, her third cousin once removed.
Along with her three brothers, Joan was privately declared legitimate by their cousin King Richard II of England in 1390, but their father secured another declaration from Parliament in January 1397. Joan was already an adult when she was legitimized by the marriage of her mother and father with papal approval. The Beauforts were later barred from inheriting the throne by a clause inserted into the legitimation act by their half-brother, King Henry IV. Soon after this declaration, on/before 3 February 1397, Joan (widow of Robert Ferrers, my ancestor) married Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, who had also been married once before. Ralph and Joan married at Chateau de Beaufort, says the genealogical rumor mill, as that was Joan's surname, and a property of her father, John of Gaunt. However, it doesn't seem logical or likely that they'd take that trip in the winter for some romantic notion.
Ralph Neville had fourteen children by Joan Beaufort (who already had two Ferrers daughters):
1. Lady Katherine Neville, married first on January 12, 1411 John Mowbray, 2nd Duke of Norfolk; married second Sir Thomas Strangways; married third John Beaumont, 1st Viscount Beaumont; married fourth Sir John Woodville (d. August 12, 1469).
2. Lady Eleanor Neville (1398-1472), married first Richard le Despencer, 4th Baron Burghersh, married second Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland
3. Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury (1400-1460)
4. Robert Neville (d. 1457), Bishop of Durham
5. William Neville, 1st Earl of Kent (d. 1463)
6. Edward Neville, 1st Lord Bergavenny (d. 1476)
7. Anne Neville (1414-1480), married Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham
8. Cecily Neville (1415-1495) ("Proud Cis"), married Richard, 3rd Duke of York; mother of Kings Edward IV of England and Richard III of England
9. George Neville, 1st Baron Latymer (d. 1469)
10. John Neville, died young
11. Cuthbert Neville, died young
12. Thomas Neville, died young
13. Henry Neville, died young
14. Joan Neville, a nun
Joan Beaufort, Countess Westmorland, died 13 Nov. 1440 at Howden, Yorkshire; Joan’s effigy is with those of her husband Ralph Neville and his first wife Margaret Stafford at Staindrop church, Raby, Durham, but she is actually buried at Lincoln Cathedral with her mother, Katherine Roet Swynford, third wife of John of Gaunt. The Lincoln Cathedral tombs were vandalized in 1640 during the Civil War, but the tomb boxes remain on the south side of the chancel.
1397: Ralph created 1st Earl of Westmorland. Held castles of Raby, Brancepeth, Middleham, Sheriff Hutton. Given lordship of Richmond for life.
1399-1412: Earl Marshal of England. The Earl Marshal is the eighth of the Great Officers of State, with the Lord High Constable above him and only the Lord High Admiral beneath him.
1402: He was made a Knight of the Garter, taking the place left vacant by the death of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York. Neville was a supporter of King Henry IV of England, his wife’s half-brother.
1403: Helped put down Percy revolt regarding Henry IV’s usurpation of throne. His mother was a Percy, so of course he was closely allied with them.
1403: Became warden of Richard Scrope, 3rd Lord Scrope of Bolton, aged 10, my ancestor. Richard Scrope married Margaret Neville, daughter of Ralph Neville and Margaret Stafford. Richard was killed in battle 1320, leaving two-year-old son Henry Scrope, who also became ward of Ralph Neville, his grandfather.
1403-1414: Warden of Carlisle and the Western March
1405: Parleyed with Archbishop Scrope and Thomas Mowbray to stop hostilities with Henry IV. They were seized and executed.
1405: Negotiated with Scots and kept peace on borders.
1408: Ralph was granted the license to found a college at Castle Raby's Staindrop St Mary's church, with an endowment the equivalent of today’s £300,000.
1415: Ralph decisively defeated an invading Scottish army at the Battle of Yeavering. The Battle of Yeavering (or Battle of Geteryne) was fought on July 22, 1415 between English and Scottish forces near Yeavering in Northumberland. A small English force consisting of 440 men led by Ralph Neville Earl of Westmoreland defeated 4,000 Scots. Fought in the same year as Henry V's Battle of Agincourt which famously established the efficacy of the longbow against cavalry, it is notable that the English side at Yeavering consisted mostly of archers.
1415: member of the Council of Regency, during King Henry V's absence abroad.
1425: Oct. 21 Ralph died at Castle Raby, Durham, aged 61, leaving 23 children. Buried in nearby Staindrop Collegiate Church, with alabaster effigies of himself and two wives, both of whom are buried elsewhere (Margaret at Brancepeth, Durham; and Joan at Lincoln Cathedral with her mother). The alabaster effigies came from a quarry owned by John of Gaunt.
When Ralph de Neville died in 1425, his lands and titles should by law have passed to his eldest surviving son from his first marriage to Margaret Stafford, her son Ralph de Neville (the son). Instead, while the title of Earl of Westmorland and several manors were passed to Ralph the younger, most of the senior Ralph's estate went to his surviving wife, Joan Beaufort*. The result was years of conflict between Joan and her nine step-children, who fiercely contested her acquisition of their father's lands. Joan however, with her royal blood and connections, was far too powerful to be called to account, and the senior branch of the Nevilles received little redress for their grievances. Inevitably, when Joan died [13 Nov. 1440 at Howden, Yorkshire], the lands were inherited by her own children.
Ralph sired 23 children. And his wives carried 9 and 16 pregnancies to term, respectively. (No telling the miscarriages that may have taken place.) Margaret died at age 32. Joan lived 25 years after her 16th child was born.
At least the Neville children were born on the right side of the blanket. King Henry I of England had more bastards than Ralph Neville had legitimate sons and daughters. Several of those bastards are my ancestors, as well as legitimate descent through his daughter Matilda and her son Henry II. But Henry II put both legit and illegit into my family tree. Whatever, that's a lot of indoor sport.
* Joan Beaufort's effigy is at Staindrop, but her tomb is at Lincoln Cathedral with that of her mother, Katherine Roet Swynford, Countess of Lancaster. For information on Joan's and Katherine's tombs, visit the Katherine Swynford blog here.