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Sir John Nevill had, together with the bulk of the northern* gentry, during the wars of the roses, been a supporter of the house of Lancaster; and had received from Henry VI., in reward of his fidelity, the constableship for life of his ancient family castles of Sheriff-Hutton and Middleham, which had become forfeited by the rebellion of his kinsman, Richard Nevill, earl of Salisbury. He had been true to his principles to the last, and had fallen in the ranks of the vanquished at the decisive victory of Towton,† which fixed the crown on Edward's brow.
His only surviving son Ralph‡ succeeded his uncle as third earl of Westmoreland, and was one of the chief persons in the army sent under the command of Thomas Howard, earl of Surry, against James king of Scotland, when he had laid siege to Norham. His days are said to have been shortened by grief, for the loss of his only son, Ralph lord Nevill, who was buried in the chapel at Brancepath, on the south side of the quire.
His grandson, another Ralph lord Nevill, succeeded him as fourth earl of Westmoreland. In 1530, his signature was appended to the
the figures. The Lancaster badge, SS," (a collar formed of which letters was, in his monument, hung round the neck of the first earl), "is now discarded; and we find that of York, the white rose in the sun, adopted; from which is suspended the white boar, Richard the Third's device." Stothard's Monumental Effigies.
The apparently final overthrow of the house of Lancaster had no doubt led him to tender that allegiance to the house of York implied by these decorations. A vast change from the conduct he had pursued when he could be described as exclaiming amongst his peers :
"He is both king and duke of Lancaster;
And that the lord of Westmoreland shall maintain."
Part 3, Henry VI., Act 1, scene 1.
Thus a messenger is described as entering Sandal castle and informing Edward duke of York:
Part 3, Henry VI., Act 1, scene 2.
The inhabitants of the south, on the contrary, supported for the most part, the pretensions of the duke of York:
Deposed he shall be, in despite of all.
Thou art deceived: 'tis not thy southern power,
Part 3, Henry VI., Act 1, scene 1.
Towton is near Tadcaster. The battle was fought on Palm-Sunday, 29 March, 1461. The change in the value of money since those times is curiously shewn by the fact that "this Ralph, after the death of Elizabeth his mother," (sister and co-heir of Edmond Holland, earl of Kent) "had forty pounds per annum allowed him by the king for his maintenance, being then in minority and in 4 Henry 6. an augmentation thereof to the sum of fifty pounds sixteen shillings and eight pence, to be paid out of the fee-farm of the Town of Newcastle upon Tyne." Dugdale's Baronage, Vol. 1. p. 299.
letter to Pope Clement VII., purporting to be subscribed by the lords spiritual and temporal and certain commoners on behalf of the nation, and calling upon him to pass the sentence of divorce between Henry VIII. and Catherine of Arragon. He took to wife the lady Catherine Stafford, daughter of the unfortunate duke of Buckingham, who died on the block; some say a victim to the intrigues of Wolsey, whose pride he had wounded; others to the jealousy of Henry alone, awakened by his ambition and illustrious descent. By her the earl had a large family; of which the eldest son, Henry, was his
Of Henry Nevill, the fifth earl of Westmoreland, whose life seems to have been but little distinguished, it may be observed that he has left behind him in Staindrop church, a curious wooden tomb with recumbent images of himself and his two wives, the lady Anne Manners, and Jane ......... under which, in his will, he desires burial. The epitaph states it is intended also for a third wife, Margaret; but her image is wanting. On either side of the tomb-four on the north and four on the south-are little effigies of the four sons, and four daughters of the earl, by his first wife, dressed in the costume of the day, with their several names above them. He died in 1563, and was succeeded by his son Charles Nevill, sixth and last earl of that "most ancient and most historic family."
This earl of Westmoreland, by marrying the lady Jane Howard,* became the brother in law of the duke of Norfolk, who afterwards aspired to the hand of the fair captive Mary Stuart. It was, partly at any rate, through this connection, that he was induced to raise in 1509, together with his northern neighbour, the earl of Northumberland, the standard † of rebellion in favour of the privileges of the ancient nobility, Mary queen of Scots, and the faith of Rome.
In consequence of disunion in the councils of the leaders, their forces dispersed without a battle on the approach of the army of queen Elizabeth. The two earls fled into Scotland: whence the earl of Westmoreland had the good fortune to escape to the then Spanish, Netherlands. He was attainted in 1571, and died
• She was the daughter of that unfortunate earl of Surry, whom Camden describes as "the first of the English nobility that did illustrate his high birth by the beauty of learning." "Lord Westmorland his ancient raisde,
The Dun Bull he rays'd on hye." "Rising of the North,"
By the act of attainder it was provided that the possessions of the earl of Westmoreland, in the palatinate, comprising Raby, Brancepath, and Barnard Castles, should vest in the crown, although it had been formerly determined that where the bishop “hath jura regalia, he shall have forfeiture of high treason." The pretext for this encroachment, was, that the crown might be reimbursed the expences it had been put to in suppressing the
at Newport, in Flanders in 1601. He had issue several sons who died in early youth, and four daughters. The brothers of this earl had no issue.
To return to the issue of the first earl of Westmoreland, by his second wife. The distinction, which, from obvious causes, frequently exists betwixt the descendants of a first and second marriage, is observable in the family of Nevill. The earls of Westmoreland, though extremely powerful, possessed only the natural influence of their high rank, and extended property, and remained, till the time of the last earl, uniformly loyal to the reigning line; whilst the eldest branch of the issue of their progenitor's second bed, the Nevills of Salisbury and Warwick, soared to the highest offices of the state, and were the chief agents in the destruction of their kindred blood of Lancaster. To the house of Lancaster, as we have seen, this second family was allied by blood-to that of York it was allied by marriage; for Cecily, the youngest of the first earls twenty one children, married Richard Plantagenet, duke of York, and was mother of two and grandmother of the third of the kings of England, of the York dynasty; and, through the marriage of her grandaughter, Elizabeth of York, to the Lancastrian Henry VII., transmitted the blood of Nevill, (to be soon mingled in the veins of the Stuarts with that of their ancient Durham rival, the Bruce,) to the still existing line of British sovereigns.
The eldest of the second family of the earl of Westmoreland, was Richard Nevill, who married Alice the daughter and heiress of Thomas Montague, the earl of Salisbury, who was killed * at the siege of Orleans. He was afterwards himself created earl of Salisbury, by Henry VI. His connection, however, through the marriage of his sister, with the house of York, undermined the allegiance of himself and his children to the Lancastrian Princes; and by them, after their victory at Wakefield,† he was beheaded.
Splendid as were the titles acquired by his younger children-one being created marquess of Montague, and another being made
rebellion. The lamentations of a dependent on the house of Westmoreland, over this, its final ruin, are expressed in the plaintive ballad of "Langley dale," given at p. 43 of the Life of Surtees, prefixed to the 4th Vol. of his History of Durham.
One of thy eyes, and thy cheek's side struck off!
Part 1, Henry VI. 1. scene 4. 30 December, 1460.
Montague had also, during a short period in which the Percies were in disgrace with Edward IV, held the earldom of Northumberland. He had a son George, created duke of Bedford, by Edward IV.; to whom, in gratitude for the services, or fear of the power
bishop of Exeter, and then translated to York-their fame was eclipsed by the transcendent lustre of their eldest brother, Richard, who, in consequence of his marriage with Anne Beauchamp, sister and heir of the duke of Warwick,* was eventually himself created earl of Warwick and under that title, became distinguished as
"Proud setter up and puller down of kings." +
He after having dethroned Henry VI. and substituted Edward IV.
BARNARD CASTLE, DURHAM.
of the family, the king had intended bestowing the hand of his eldest daughter, the lady Elizabeth Plantagenet. Before however the accomplishment of the marriage, the father and uncle of the intended bridegroom, Montague and Warwick, had rebelled; and the duke was in consequence degraded from his honors. His destined bride became afterwards, by her marriage with Henry VII, the auspicious instrument of uniting the rival
By this marriage the earl obtained Barnard castle. Soon after the forfeiture of John Baliol's English estates, amongst which was this Fortress, Edward I. had severed the confiscated possessions of Bruce and Baliol from the palatinate, and granted the honour and castle of Barnard to Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick; and, for five successive descents, the Beauchamp's held, with one slight interruption, full possession of Barnard castle. Anne, the heiress of the last of these brought it to her husband, Richard Nevill, the king making earl of Warwick, whose daughter Anne Nevill, conveyed it by marriage to her husband, Richard III. He, when duke of Gloucester, enlarged it and spent much time there. Henry VII. after the death of Richard, restored the castle to Anne the mother, heiress of the Beauchamps, and widow of the earl of Warwick; though probably for the purpose only of acquiring it himself; as in 1488, she passed to him by feofment. It was afterwards vested in the Staffords, dukes of Buckingham: and then devolved, probably through the marriage of his father with lady Catherine Stafford, to the last earl of Westmoreland of the Nevill name.
+ Part 3 Henry VI. Act 3. scene 3.
again restored the former, and finally fell, together with his brother Montague, fighting in the cause of Henry* at its fatal defeat of Barnet-field, 14 April, 1471. Thus perished Salisbury, Warwick, and Montague in that storm themselves had raised. Warwick left two daughters and coheirs. Isabel, the elder daughter, was married to the duke of Clarence, who was drowned by his brother Edward IV. in a butt of Malmsey; and was mother of Edward, earl of Warwick, the last male Plantagenet. He suffered on the block, a sacrifice to the jealousy of the house of Tudor. Anne the younger daughter was wife first to the Lancastrian Edward prince of Wales, son of Henry VI., and was afterwards queen to the Yorkist + Richard III. the last Plantagenet king of England; and her wooing, by her latter husband, has been invested by the genius of Shakspeare ‡ with irresistable fascination.
The "brief, brave, and glorious" career of this branch of the stock of Nevill belongs rather to the general, than to the local, historian.
The second son of the second family, of the earl of Westmoreland, was William Nevill who was created Baron Fauconberg, earl of Kent, and lord high admiral of England. He had daughters only.
The third son, George, who was summoned to parliament as baron Latimer, transmitted a longer male descent than any of those yet mentioned. In the 13 Henry VI., he held the high office of commander in chief of the forces against the Scots. The failure of his intellect spared him the pain of knowing the death of his only son, sir Henry Neville, who had married Joan Bourchier,
• His inconstancy is thus reproved by his future son in law, Edward prince of Wales: "If that be right, which Warwick says is right There is no wrong, but every thing is right."
Part 3, Henry VI., Act 2, scene 1.
Hume, in his history of the reign of Henry VI., gives an eloquent account of the popular qualities of this extraordinary man: and adds that "no less than 30,000 persons are said to have lived daily at his board, at the different manors and castles which he possessed in England;" and that "he was the greatest, as well as the last, of those mighty barons, who formerly overawed the crown, and rendered the people incapable of any regular system of civil government."
↑ "On each side of the faded melancholy portrait of this unfortunate lady, in the pictorial history of her maternal ancestry called the Rous Roll," still preserved in the Heralds' college, “two mysterious hands are introduced, offering to her the rival crowns of York and Lancaster."-Miss Strickland's Queens of England Vol. 3. p. 363. She pined away and died within a year after the death of her only child Edward, earl of Salisbury and prince of Wales, the son of king Richard; and left behind her a tale, according to no unusual combination, especially in feudal times :
6. Sad, high and working, full of state and woe."