Still on the Nevilles! The 5th Earl of Salisbury

Effigy of 5th Earl of Salisbury at Burghfield Church having been moved there from Bisham Abbey when it was dissolved.

Having worked my way through Joan Beaufort’s daughters logically its time to move on to the sons. By rights I should start with Richard Neville 5th Earl of Salisbury. He was the third of Westmorland’s sons to survive infancy – the first of Joan Beaufort’s sons. So in the great scheme of things he really wasn’t originally destined to be much more than a footnote. His parents arranged a match with Alice Montagu who was the daughter of the 4th Earl of Salisbury. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Alice would be an heiress as her father married Alice Chaucer, the poet’s grand daughter, so it wasn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that he could have had a son.

Salisbury died in 1428 in France at the Siege of Orleans leaving Alice as suo jure countess of Salisbury meaning that Neville who seems to have married her the year before acquired the title by right of his wife as well as possession of her lands which were largely based in Hampshire and Wiltshire rather than the north of the country more usually associated with the Neville family. Although his principal residence was now Bisham he continued in his role as a warden of the marches which was periodically renewed by the state and which required his presence there.

Eventually, following Joan’s death in 1440, he took possession of his father’s Yorkshire manors ar Middleham and Sheriff Hutton and settled down to a feud with his elder half siblings who were somewhat aggrieved that whilst they had the title that the the 1st earl’s second family had acquired the estates thanks to their mother Joan. There was also the Neville-Percy feud to take into consideration which gradually escalated across the years as the two families vied for land, power and influence. Unsurprisingly the government found itself intervening on occasion. However, thanks to his mother’s canny legal arrangements and his wife’s patrimony Salisbury found himself very wealthy and rather more influential than he might have expected given that there weren’t many earls with more wealth than him.

Salisbury’s power in the north thanks to the inheritance of accumulated Neville estates coincided with King Henry VI’s deteriorating mental health. The king, known for his piety, relied upon his wife Margaret of Anjou and her court favourites notably Edmund Beaufort 2nd Duke of Somerset. The treasury was empty, there were times when the royal family didn’t have food for their table and the situation in France went from bad to worse. Richard of York who was Salisbury’s brother-in-law denied his rightful role at the heart of the King’s counsels gradually became a champion for reform which led to an armed stand off at Dartford in 1452 followed by the First Battle of St Albans in 1455. Salisbury rose or fell with his brother-in-law. In 1459 he joined York at Ludlow and was forced to flee the country along with his eldest son the Earl of Warwick. The pair went to Calais with York’s son Edward Earl of March and in 1460 was with York at Sandal when a Lancastrian army arrived and began to taunt the duke – the result was a pitched battle and the death not only of York and his second son the Earl of Rutland but also of Salisbury and his son Thomas.

Salisbury escaped the battle unlike his son Thomas and son-in-law Lord Harington but was captured and taken to Pontefract where he was executed. His head was placed on Micklegate Bar in York. After the Battle of Towton the following Easter the earl’s body was moved to Bisham Abbey as his will requested.

Salisbury was related not only to York through his sister Cecily’s marriage to the duke but was also related through his own mother to Somerset who was the duke’s principal court opponent.

It was Thomas’s marriage to Maud Stanhope the niece and co-heiress of Lord Cromwell which resulted in the escalation of the Neville Percy feud in 1453 and which probably moved Salisbury from a neutral position to an alliance with York. salisbury received little help from either the queen or Somerset agains the Percy family – Somerset was friendly to Northumberland.

Salisbury and Alice had a large family of their own – ten children in all.

The ever expanding Neville family

Ralph Neville and his two wives

Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland was married twice. He was married first to Margaret Stafford and had eight children. After Margaret’s death he married for a second time to Joan Beaufort and produced a further fourteen children of whom nine were sons (three of them didn’t live for long.) So far so many. The first family weren’t keen on the second family because whilst they got the title and eventually Raby Castle which was part of Joan Beaufort’s dower (so it was hers for her life) they didn’t get the loot which went to the second family – which doesn’t help much if you’re trying to keep track of who was fighting whom during the Wars of the roses.

The eldest son from the second marriage was Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury by right of his wife Alice Montagu or Montacute depending on how you feel like spelling it. The Salisburys had ten children, the eldest of whom was also called Richard and became the so-called Kingmaker. Three of the children died in infancy – but that’s still seven more Nevilles to extend the family influence.

Thomas Neville became his uncle Robert’s steward (Uncle Robert was the Bishop of Durham.) His marriage to Maud Stanhope triggered a violent upsurge in the Neville-Percy feud on Thomas and Maud’s wedding day. He also turns up as a deputy warden for his father and as a guarantor for his uncle, William Neville Lord Fauconberg. He was killed at the Battle of Wakefield along with his father and uncle-by-marriage Richard of York.

John Neville, 1st Marquess Montagu is usually associated with the Percy feud mainly because he became the Earl of Northumberland for a short time in 1464. It did not go down well with the locals and besides which Warwick’s relationship with the king began to deteriorate. Long story, short – he was booted out of the earldom, rebelled and was finally killed at the Battle of Barnet.

George Neville – youngest surviving son – always destined for the church became Bishop of Exeter in 1458 and Archbishop of York in 1465. He was also Lord Chancellor and when he was sacked from the post Warwick took it rather personally, blaming the Woodville faction for his loss of influence – as personified by the demotion of George – who then made matters even worse by marrying Edward IV’s brother the Duke of Clarence to Warwick’s daughter Isabel despite express instructions from the king that there should be no marriage.

Joan Neville became the Countess of Arundel.

Cecily (not the Rose of Raby – she was this Cecily’s aunt) married Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick who died inconveniently young. She married for a second time to John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester.

Alice Neville was Katherine Parr’s great granny.

Eleanor Neville married Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby – three of their children survived into adulthood but after Eleanor died, Stanley remarried…to Lady Margaret Beaufort, becoming the step-father of Henry Tudor and the bloke who didn’t commit at Bosworth until he saw which way the wind was blowing.

Katherine Neville married in to another family feud when she married William Bonville. The Bonvilles and the Courtneys were fighting for pre-eminence in Devon. Her second husband was the Lord Hastings who got his head chopped off by Richard III without trial. Richard placed Katherine under his protection immediately after doing away with her philandering spouse (who had a bit of a thing going with Edward IV’s mistress Jane Shore.) Katherine’s buried in the parish church at Ashby de la Zouche.

Margaret Neville found herself married to John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford. John became the earl somewhat unexpectedly. Cecily’s husband executed his father and elder brother for treason…they were Lancastrians. John was also a Lancastrian which came in handy when Warwick turned his coat.

And my point? It’s not what you know, it’s who you know – or rather more importantly who you’re related to when it comes to the Neville Affinity.