Sir Edward Neville

640px-Cromwell,Thomas(1EEssex)01I should really be exploring England’s only Pope.  Nicholas Breakspear was made pontiff on the 4th December 1154 becoming Pope Adrian IV.  However, I’ve got myself well and truly sidetracked flicking through Henry VIII’s letters and papers.


A quick perusal of Henry’s letters and papers yielded up today’s advent personality Sir Edward Neville who was tried and executed for treason along with Sir Geoffrey Pole in 1538. In this instance there isn’t a letter to read but there is an index of documents relating to the trial of the two gentlemen dating from the 4th of December – an insight into the process of bringing someone to trial and the administrative flair of Thomas Cromwell. The file, just an an aside, contains the signed copy of the reply sent by Sir William Kingston the Constable of the Tower confirming that he would have the parties in question in the dock on time.


Sir Edward Neville was a younger son of baron Bergevenny and it proprably won’t come as a great surprise to discover he was vaguely related to Henry VIII whom he resembled so greatly that there was a rumour that Edward was actually Henry’s son (this was an impossibility). In addition to having a drop of Plantagenet blood he was also related through the Beaufort line. His great grandfather was Ralph Neville, earl of Westmorland and his great grandmother was Joan Beaufort the daughter of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt. As well as the name Neville which certainly conjures up the old aristocracy, Edward could also, if he chose, boast names such as Despenser, Fitz-Alan and Beauchamp in his family tree (I told you they were all related one way or the other!)


Pedigree aside Edward did all the usual Tudor gentlemanly things (there should be a check list). He was a soldier as well as a courtier and he played the game of courtly love with aplomb. He went to France in 1514 with Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk and Arthur Plantagenet Lord Lisle to see Princess Mary married – they did this in disguise (ahh, I hear you cry how romantic.)


Cross-Channel lads’ weekends aside Edward rose in importance during the early period  of Henry’s reign when he was married to Katherine of Aragon and all, though not  always rosy, was relatively pleasant in the royal garden. He’d also been part of the 1512-1513 military expedition and he was at the Field of Cloth of Gold.  He even seems to have kept that favour as late as 1537 having sensibly played a role in 1533 for Anne Boleyn’s coronation. He was made Constable of Leeds Castle in Kent in 1535 and carried the canopy at Prince Edward’s christening in 1537.


The problem for Sir Edward was that in 1538 he fell foul of Thomas Cromwell over the small matter of Moatenden Priory. Edward wanted the lands but, unfortunately, so did Thomas.


From there it was a simple matter  for Cromwell to implicate Edward in the Pilgrimage of Grace along with the Pole family irrelevant if where his sympathies might have lain. His niece’s husband was Henry Pole, Lord Montagu. The Pole family found itself guilty of treachery largely because Reginald refused to agree with Henry’s divorce and had written a book on the subject which displeased his kingly cousin enormously and because Margaret Pole, countess of Salisbury was the daughter of the duke of Clarence (brother of Edward IV). The Poles were the personification of the Plantagenet white rose branch of the family tree. Put plainly, Edward Neville was related to the wrong people at the wrong time.

sir-georgeIt probably didn’t help that his brother, George Neville (pictured right in a sketch by Hans Holbein), had been married to Mary Stafford, the daughter of the duke of Buckingham and been arrested in 1521 along with his father-in-law. Edward’s brother was released without charge at that time but it may well have lingered in Henry’s mind and made it easier for Cromwell to present Sir Edward Neville as a traitor. And if Henry did count George as a traitor, he wasn’t alone. Eustace Chapuys the Imperial Ambassador identified George Neville as pro-Pole as a result of his arrest and the tarnishing of his reputation which never fully recovered.


As for Edward, he was arrested on the 3rd of December, notices for the trial were published on the 4th and from there it was a short step until his execution on the 8th December 1538.


‘Henry VIII: December 1538 1-5’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 13 Part 2, August-December 1538, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1893), pp. 409-426. British History Online [accessed 17 November 2016].

15 thoughts on “Sir Edward Neville

  1. No Dispenser on my family tree but Neville Mortimer and Fitzhugh and Molenuex. Also More and Whiteside. many more connected by marriages. My line is Fitzhugh Neville. Good article as even Brandon is mentioned on my papers. Bed hopping for power no doubt. A few tiles lay hidden even now i am on that trail as one more rise in status brings me Civil list protection. A Baronet being higher than a knight but still not peerage and all my lot are dead. This Queen says i am not entitled to my family riches so blacked at every turn I want a peerage to my name and may family had 56 titles given over six centuries. I care not about money not greedy hate corruption but House of lords and care of England my dream

  2. I noticed that you mention how the second photograph is George Neville. However, at the bottom left of the image, it says: Lord Cromwell. Reason I’m asking is because I’ve found this same image in different locations across the internet labeled as either George Neville or as Lord Cromwell. As a descendant of George Neville, I’d be grateful to know your thoughts. Thank you!

  3. I have just come across this blog about Sir Edward Neville. It is rather disingenuous. The immediate descendants of Edward Nevill younger son of Ralph Earl of Westmoreland and Joan Beaufort had rather more than a “drop of Plantagenet blood” and to suggest Sir Edward was “vaguely related” to Henry VIII suggests rather a serious ignorance of the subject. His mother Elizabeth Beauchamp had several close descents from the Plantagenet Kings, which along with his gr. gr. grandfather John of Gaunt produced strength of royal blood lines in the Nevills of Abergavenny which you are unlikely to outdo in any other noble British family of the period. Whilst not able to furnish the quote at short notice, Edward Nevill is quoted as saying words to the effect “you will have me a bastard” when Queen Elizabeth called him ‘brother’ Without wishing to offend I suggest you make a better effort of accuracy before dissing this particular noble family.

    • No doubt you will have heard the saying that you can’t please all of the people all of the time? In this case the “cross-Channel lads weekend” should probably have given an indication as to the tone of the post and I take umbrage at “serious ignorance” and “effort of accuracy.” This is not a genealogical post and has no pretence at being so – maybe you don’t like history tongue in cheek but I do and so do sufficient of my followers for me not to wish to change my style. Thank you none the less for taking the time to respond to my post which you will note that I have approved so that anyone reading the post can make their own mind up. I would have to say that the reference to John of Gaunt is there, as are a whole host of aristocratic relations, important court roles etc which would rather indicate the man’s bloodlines without having to spell them out. Henry VIII famous for executing his Plantagenet relations and Cromwell for getting rid of his opponents – Edward Neville is another example of both the former and the latter. As a complete aside I’m assuming that given that Sir Edward was executed in 1538 that it was the 7th Baron who held the conversation with Elizabeth rather than this Edward who was the brother of the 5th Baron.

      • My apologies for upsetting you. I did however take it to be an historical blog. You are quite right it was not Sir Edward but his son Sir Henry of Billingbere to whom the Queen made the quip.
        Incidentally on a point of interest for the fertile mind, do you not find it odd that Sir Edward the tudor lookalike and his son Henry both had red hair which Edward’s brother George certainly didn’t. It begs the question which might be up your street, was Edward the illegitimate son of Henry VII and thus brother of H VIII?

      • Well I would argue that it is a historical blog – if not always worded academically. An interesting idea about who was related to who. Henry VIII looked a lot like his maternal grandfather Edward IV who was well known for his interest in the ladies. It’s intriguing. Thank you for the thought.

  4. Just found this article and wanted to thank you all for your information. I recently found out from my auntie that Sir Edward Neville is my 12/13x gr grandfather on my mother’s side! Was interesting to read this and learn something about him and his life 🙂

    • William, I’m very interested in your Nevill descent. Is this through a line of subsequent Nevills
      or a singular female connection? Reason I ask is that the Abergavenny male line from Sir Edward Nevill is considered to only exist in the current marquess’ family. However there is very good evidence to show a non aristocratic line existed in Kent in the 19th C and probably males to this day. This has no relevance for the marquessate but possibly does for the barony. Best wishes Don Macer-Wright

  5. I recently learned that Sir Edward Neville is my 13th great grandfather on my father’s side. Of course there much be about 200 thousand grandchildren by now..

  6. Sir Edward Neville is my 15th great grandfather on my mother’s side. We traced the lineage through my maternal grandfathers father….through the Ashfords to Rachel Neville and so on. Do you have any idea how many direct descendants there are?

    • No I’m afraid I don’t, I’m sure there’s a set of statistics somewhere. – you sound as though you have a fascinating family history.

      • Sir Neville is my 13th great grandfather. It’s through my maternal grandmother’s line, Walker. Her grandfather, James Mathias Walker 1852-1939 married Luthann Lucinda Cross. James Mathias Walker’s mother was Louisa Elizabeth Dial. Her father was Tapley Dial, 1770-1852.His grandfather was aCapt. Henry Dial. His great great grandfather was William D’Oyly (Dial) 1590-1642. His wife was Alice Stokes. William’s father, Edmund D’Oyly(Dial) married Catherine Neville. Catherine Neville was the granddaughter of Sir Edward Neville and Lady Eleanor Windsor.

        This is my link to the Neville line.

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