Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland

Sir Ralph Neville
Earl of Westmorland
Baron Neville de Raby
Lord of Richmond
Miniature of the Earl of Westmorland with his twelve children by Pol de Limbourg.
Spouse(s) Margaret de Stafford
Joan Beaufort
Maud Neville
Philippa Neville
Elizabeth Neville
Margaret Neville
Anastasia Neville
Anne Neville
Alice Neville
John Neville, Lord Neville
Sir Ralph Neville
Lady Katherine Neville
Lady Eleanor Neville
Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury
Robert Neville
William Neville, 1st Earl of Kent
Edward Neville, 1st Lord Bergavenny
Anne Neville
Cecily Neville, Duchess of York
George Neville, 1st Baron Latymer
John Neville
Cuthbert Neville
Thomas Neville
Henry Neville
Joan Neville
Noble family House of Neville
Father John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby
Mother Lady Maud Percy
Born ca. 1364
Died 21 October 1425

Sir Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, 4th Baron Neville de Raby, Lord of Richmond, Earl Marshal, KG, PC (ca. 1364 – 21 October 1425), was an English nobleman of the House of Neville. He was born in Raby Castle, County Durham, England, the son of John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby and Lady Maud Percy.[1]



He was knighted by Thomas of Woodstock, during the French expedition of 1380. In 1388, following the death of his father, he became the fourth Baron Neville de Raby. In 1391, Neville was put on the commission that undertook the duties of Constable in place of Gloucester and was repeatedly engaged in negotiations with the Scots. On 29 September 1397, due to his support towards Richard II, against the Lords Appellant, Neville was created the 1st Earl of Westmorland. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor before 4 December 1399.[2] In 1403, 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 who endowed him with the honour and lordship of Richmond for life. Like the first lords of Richmond and Peter II of Savoy before him, Ralph was endowed with Richmond, but without the title.[1]

The Neville family were natural rivals of the Percy family. In 1403, the power of the Percys had fallen at the Battle of Shrewsbury. Both marches had been in their hands, but the west marches was now assigned to Neville, who's influence in the east was also paramount. Neville had prevented Northumberland from marching to reinforce Hotspur before embarking on a new revolt to secure his enemy, Northumberland. In May 1403, while the Percys were in revolt with Thomas de Mowbray, 4th Earl of Norfolk, and Archbishop Scrope, Neville met them at Skipton Moor, near York, and suggested a parley between the leaders. Scrope and Mowbray were seized after Mowbray let his followers disperse and handed over to Northumberland at Pontefract Castle. It is believed by some historians that the two had voluntarily surrendered. If Neville had betrayed them, he certainly shared no part in their execution.[1]

In the later part of his career, Neville was mainly engaged with defence of the northern border in his capacity as warden of the west march. In 1415, for example, he decisively defeated an invading Scottish army at the Battle of Yeavering.[1] In 1422, he was a member of the Council of Regency during the minority of King Henry VI.[2]

Neville was a great church builder, 'curious flat headed windows being peculiar to the churches on the Neville manors'. Neville died on the 21st of October 1425, and a fine alabaster tomb was erected to his memory in St. Mary's Staindrop Church, close by Raby Castle, where his effigy in armour between his two wives remains the finest sepulchral monument in the north of England.[1][2] When he died, he left money to complete the College of Staindrop which he founded near Raby.[2] His first wife, Lady Margaret de Stafford was buried at Brancepeth Castle.[3] His second wife, Lady Joan Beaufort, was buried with her mother, Katherine Roet, under a carved-stone canopy in the sanctuary of Lincoln Cathedral.[4] Joan's is the smaller of the two tombs; both were decorated with brass plates — full-length representations of them on the tops, and small shields bearing coats of arms around the sides and on the top — which were damaged or destroyed in 1644 during the English Civil War. He was survived by most of his 23 children. As his eldest son, Sir John de Neville by Margaret de Stafford pre-deceased him, he was succeeded in his titles by his grandson, Ralph Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmorland.[5]


The character of Westmorland in William Shakespeare's plays Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V is based on Neville. Neville did not play the part that was assigned to him in Shakespeare's Henry V. During Henry V's absence he remained in charge of the north and was a member of the Council of Regency in 1415, during King Henry V's absence.[1] It has been claimed by Brenda James and Professor William Rubinstein that Neville's great-great-grandson, Sir Henry Neville wrote the works of William Shakespeare.


  1. Lady Margaret de Stafford, c.1382, daughter of Hugh de Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford and Philippa de Beauchamp.
  2. Lady Joan Beaufort, before 29 November 1396, at Château de Beaufort, Maine-et-Loire, Anjou, France.[6] Lady Joan was the daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and his third wife, Katherine Roet, and half-sister of Henry IV of England.

Family and children

He had nine children by Lady Margaret de Stafford:

  • Lady Maud Neville (d. October 1438), married Piers de Mauley, 5th Baron Mauley
  • Lady Alice Neville, married first Sir Thomas Grey of Heton; married second Sir Gilbert Lancaster
  • Lady Philippa de Neville, married Thomas Dacre, 6th Baron Dacre
  • Sir John Neville, Baron Neville of Raby (c.1387-c.1420), married Lady Elizabeth de Holland, daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent and Lady Alice FitzAlan. They were parents to Ralph Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmorland and John Neville, 1st Baron Neville de Raby.[7]
  • Sir Ralph Neville (c.1392-25 Feb 1458), married Mary Ferrers, daughter of Sir Robert Ferrers and had issue.
  • Lady Elizabeth Neville, a nun at Minories, London, England.
  • Lady Anne Neville (b. circa 1384), married Sir Gilbert Umfraville.
  • Lady Margaret Neville (d. ca. 1465), married first Richard Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Bolton; married second William Cressoner.
  • Lady Anastasia Neville

He had fourteen children by Lady Joan Beaufort:



  1. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Ed. Vol XXVIII. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910. 553.
  2. ^ a b c d Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, page 14.
  3. ^ G.E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume XII/2, pg 547.
  4. ^ Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family, page 109.
  5. ^ Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume XII/2, page 899.
  6. ^ Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 108.
  7. ^ Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, page 15.

Further reading

  • Harriss, Gerald. Shaping the Nation: England 1360-1461, Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Neville, Cynthia J. Violence, Custom and the Law, Edinburgh University Press, 1998.
  • Swallow, Henry J. De Nova Villa: or, The House of Nevill in Sunshine and Shade, Newcastle-on-Tyne: Andrew Reid, 1885.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Surrey
Earl Marshal
Succeeded by
The Duke of Norfolk
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Westmorland
Succeeded by
Ralph Neville
Preceded by
John Neville
Baron Neville de Raby

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