Joan Beaufort and Ralph Neville had ten sons. However, Henry, John, Thomas and Cuthbert died young. Which leaves us with the Earl of Salisbury, Robert Neville who became Bishop of Durham and three more. The count down begins! Robert, the earl’s fifth son, was born in 1404.
In 1413 when he was nine years old he became the prebend of Eldon in the collegiate church of St. Andrew, Auckland and made a collection of them through his teenage years demonstrating that he was always destined for the church. He was sent to Oxford to study and afterwards returned to Yorkshire as the provost of Beverley.
When he was twenty-three he became the Bishop of Salisbury but then in 1437 the bishopric of Durham fell vacant so the following year Robert transferred north – presumably on the grounds that it would be much more helpful to his family if he was there rather than Salisbury. And let’s face it his uncle was Cardinal Beaufort and he could pull the necessary strings. Nepotism ruled ok in the fifteenth century! By placing the palatinate in friendly hands it meant that land deals, awkward tenancy agreements and disputes could be smoothed over. And to expedite matters even further one of the first things Robert did was to make his big brother Richard the Earl of Salisbury the ‘guardian of the temporalities.’
Aside from some building work which bears the Neville coat of arms and entertaining the English and Scottish commissioners who arrived in Durham in 1449 and in Newcastle in 1457 to ensure that the Anglo-Scottish truce held despite various border raids Robert seems to have not had a great impact on his diocese.
The bishop died on the 9 July 1457 and was buried in Durham Cathedral.