Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury

NEVILLE, RICHARD, Earl of Salisbury (1400–1460), was the eldest son of Ralph Neville, first earl of Westmorland [q. v.], by his second wife Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt. His brothers, Edward, first baron Bergavenny [q. v.], and William, lord Fauconberg [q. v.], are separately noticed. Richard, duke of York, was his brother-in-law, having married his sister Cecilia. In 1420, or earlier, he succeeded his eldest half-brother, John Neville, as warden of the west march of Scotland, an office which frequently devolved upon the Nevilles, they being, with the exception of the Percies, who had a sort of claim upon the wardenship of the east march, the greatest magnates of the north country (Fœdera, ix. 913; Ord. Privy Council, iii. 139). Richard Neville figured at the coronation feast of Henry V’s queen, Catherine of France (February 1421), in the capacity of a carver (Doyle, Official Baronage). He was still warden of the west march in 1424 when he assisted in the final arrangements for the liberation of James I of Scotland, so long a captive in England (Fœdera, x. 325). In January 1425 he was made constable of the royal castle of Pontefract, and in the following October lost his father (Doyle). Westmorland left him no land, as he was already provided for by his marriage earlier in that year to Alice, only child of Thomas de Montacute, fourth earl of Salisbury [q. v.], who was then eighteen years of age. Salisbury died before the walls of Orleans on 3 Nov. 1428, and his daughter at once entered into possession of his lands, which lay chiefly on the western skirts of the New Forest in Hampshire and Wiltshire, with a castle at Christ Church (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 302; cf. Doyle). Six months after his father-in-law’s death (3 May 1429) Neville’s claim to the title of Earl of Salisbury in right of his wife was approved by the judges, and provisionally confirmed by the peers in great council until the king came of age (Ord. Privy Council, iii. 325; cf. Gregory, p. 163). On 4 May 1442 Henry VI confirmed his tenure of the dignity for his life.

At the coronation of the young king on 6 Nov. 1429 the new earl acted as constable for the absent Duke of Bedford (ib. p. 168). He did not, however, accompany Henry to France in the next year, his services being still required on the Scottish border. He was a member of an embassy to Scotland in May 1429, and of a second in the following January instructed to offer James King Henry’s hand for his daughter, whom he was about to marry to the dauphin (afterwards Louis XI). But a truce for five years was the only result of his mission (Fœdera, x. 428, 447; Ord. Privy Council, iv. 19–27). It enabled him, however, to spend part of 1431 in France, for which he departed with a ‘full faire mayny’ on 2 June, and he entered Paris with the king in December (ib. iv. 79; Ramsay, Lancaster and York, i. 432; Gregory, p. 172). Returning, probably with Henry in February 1432, Salisbury seems not to have approved of the change of ministry effected by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, the king’s uncle, for on 7 May he was warned, with other nobles, not to bring more than his usual retinue to the parliament which was to meet on the 12th (Ord. Privy Council, iv. 113). In November he took the oath against maintenance, and in December arbitrated in a quarrel between the abbot and convent of St. Mary, York, and the commons of the adjoining forest of Galtres (Rot. Parl. iv. 422, 458). Either in this year or more probably in the next he was once more constituted warden of the west march towards Scotland; on 18 Feb. 1433 he was made master-forester of Blackburnshire, and already held the position of warden of the forests north of Trent (Swallow, De Nova Villa, p. 145; cf. Dugdale, i. 302; Doyle). In the parliament which met in July of this year he acted as a trier of petitions (Rot. Parl. iv. 420; cf. p. 469; Ord. Privy Council, iv. 189). In the summer of 1434, James of Scotland having strongly remonstrated touching the misgovernment on the east marches, of which the Earl of Northumberland was warden, it was decided, probably on the advice of Bedford, to place the government of both marches in Salisbury’s hands (ib. iv. 273). He only undertook the post on the council promising to send more money and ammunition to the borders. But for one reason or another the new arrangement did not work, and in February 1435 Salisbury resigned the wardenship of the east march and the captaincy of Berwick, ‘great and notable causes in divers behalfs moving him’ (ib. iv. 295). They were restored to the Earl of Northumberland on the old conditions, and the attempt to put the administration of the borders on a better footing was abandoned. The failure must doubtless be ascribed to the removal of Bedford’s influence. When Bedford died, and the Duke of York, who had married Cecily Neville, Salisbury’s sister, went out to France as his successor in May 1436, he took his brother-in-law with him (Gregory, p. 178; Dugdale, i. 302). On his return he entered the privy council in November 1437 (Ord. Privy Council, v. 71).

When in London in attendance at the council he lived in ‘the Harbour,’ a Neville residence in Dowgate. But he must have often been drawn into the north by the duties of his wardenship, which was periodically renewed to him, and by his inheritance of the Yorkshire estates of his father round Middleham and Sheriff-Hutton Castles on the death (13 Nov. 1440) of his mother, who had held them in jointure since the Earl of Westmorland’s death in 1425 (Dugdale, i. 302; Swallow, p. 137). Middleham Castle, in Wensleydale, became his chief residence. Westmorland’s grandson by his first wife, Margaret, daughter of Hugh, earl of Stafford, and successor in the earldom, had for some years been vainly endeavouring to prevent the diversion of these lands to the younger branch. The two families had made open war upon each other in the north, Westmorland being supported by his brothers Sir John, afterwards Lord Neville, and Sir Thomas Neville, and the Dowager Countess by Salisbury and his younger brother, George Neville, lord Latimer of Danby, in Cleveland; bloodshed had ensued, and the government had had to interfere (Excerpta Historica, pp. 1–3; Ord. Privy Council, v. 90, 92; cf. 282). Salisbury had the advantage of being connected both with the opposition through York and with the court party through the Beauforts. This double connection is reflected in the somewhat undecided position which for a time he took up between the court and the opposition parties. He helped to arrest Humphrey duke of Gloucester, at Bury St. Edmunds in 1447, and, though Suffolk’s peace policy endangered his interests in France, held aloof from the Duke of York when he resorted to an armed demonstration in February 1452 (Ramsay, ii. 74, 81). Along with his eldest son, now Earl of Warwick and his colleague as warden of the western marches of Scotland, Salisbury helped to persuade York at Dartford to lay down his arms (Paston Letters, i. cxlviii). But the continuance of Somerset in power, in defiance of the arrangement Salisbury had helped to mediate, must have irritated him, and he seems to have ignored the orders of the government in regard to the war which now broke out between the Neville and Percy clans in Yorkshire.

William Worcester (p. 770) dates the beginning of all the subsequent troubles from an incident which was a sequel to the marriage of Salisbury’s second son, Sir Thomas Neville, to Maud Stanhope, niece of Ralph, lord Cromwell, and widow of Lord Willoughby de Eresby, at Tattershall, Cromwell’s Lincolnshire seat. As Salisbury was returning to Middleham his followers came into collision with those of Thomas Percy, lord Egremont, third son of the Earl of Northumberland, and his brother Richard, and a pitched battle ensued. If, as seems most probable, this took place in August 1453, it only brought to a head a quarrel which had already broken out between the two families. For as early as 7 June the privy council had ordered Egremont and Salisbury’s second son, Sir John Neville (afterwards Marquis of Montagu), to keep the peace and come at once to court (Ramsay, ii. 165; Ord. Privy Council, v. 140–1). Parliament less than a month later passed a statute enacting that any lord persisting in refusing to appear at the royal summons should lose estate, name, and place in parliament (Rot. Parl. v. 266). Nevertheless the offending parties ignored repeated summonses, and Salisbury, who had been called upon to keep his sons in order, was strongly reproached in October with conniving at these ‘great assemblies’ and ‘riotous gatherings’ (Ord. Privy Council, v. 146–61). The king’s seizure with madness in August supplied York with an opportunity of getting control of the government without the use of force against the king, and Salisbury and Warwick definitely gave him their support, while Egremont and the Percies were adherents of the queen (Paston Letters, i. cxlviii. 264). When the lords came up to London early in 1454 with great retinues, Salisbury brought ‘seven score knights and squires besides other meyny’ (ib.) An indenture has been preserved by which Salisbury in September 1449 had retained the services of Sir Walter Strickland and 290 men for the term of his life against all folk, saving his allegiance to the king.

As soon as he became protector, the Duke of York on 1 April gave the great seal vacated by the death of Archbishop Kemp to Salisbury (Fœdera, xi. 344; Ord. Privy Council, vi. 168). Salisbury appears to have asked for the vacant bishopric of Ely for his son George, and the council promised to recommend him for the next available see (ib.). Salisbury’s eldest son, ‘the King-maker,’ and his brothers William, lord Fauconberg [q. v.], and Edward, lord Bergavenny [q. v.], were also regular members of the governing council (ib. p. 169). The available proceeds of tonnage and poundage were assigned to Salisbury and others for three years for the keeping of the sea (Rot. Parl. v. 244). When Henry’s recovery drove York from power, the great seal was taken from Salisbury on Friday, 7 March 1455, between eleven and twelve of the clock, in a certain small chapel over the gate at Greenwich, and given to Archbishop Bourchier (Ord. Privy Council, vi. 358). He apparently retired to Middleham, whence he joined York, when he took up arms in May in self-defence, as he alleged, against the summons of a great council to meet at Leicester to provide for the king’s ‘surety.’ Both Salisbury and Warwick accompanied York in his march on London with their retainers. They alone signed his letters of protestation addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the king, which they afterwards charged Somerset with keeping from the king’s eye (Rot. Parl. v. 280). The honours of the battle which followed (22 May) at St. Albans, and placed Henry in their power, rested not with Salisbury, but with Warwick, and from that day he was far less prominent in the Yorkist councils than his more energetic and popular son. The renunciation of all resort to force was exacted from York and Warwick only, when Queen Margaret recovered control of the king in October 1456, though Salisbury is said to have been present and to have retired to Middleham when York betook himself to Wigmore (Rot. Parl. v. 347; Paston Letters, i. 408; Fabyan, p. 632). The armed conflicts between his younger sons and the Percies in Yorkshire were renewed in 1457, and Egremont was carried prisoner to Middleham; but in March 1458 a general reconciliation was effected, and Salisbury agreed to forego the fines which he had got inflicted on the Percies, and to contribute to the cost of a chantry at St. Albans for the souls of those who had fallen in the battle (ib.; Chron. ed. Giles, p. 45; Whethamstede, i. 298, 303). In the procession of the ‘dissimuled loveday’ (25 March) Salisbury was paired off with Somerset (Fabyan, p. 633; Hall, p. 238; Political Poems, Rolls Ser. ii. 254).

When this deceitful lull came to an end, and both parties finally sprang to arms in the summer of 1459, Salisbury left Middleham Castle early in August with an armed force whose numbers are variously reckoned from five hundred (Gregory, p. 204) to seven thousand (Chron., ed. Davies, p. 80), and marched southwards to effect a junction with York, who was in the Welsh marches, and Warwick, who had been summoned from Calais (Rot. Parl. v. 348; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 72). If the original intention of the confederates had been to surprise the king in the midlands, it was foiled by Henry’s advance to Nottingham; and as Queen Margaret had massed a considerable force, raised chiefly in Cheshire, on the borders of Shropshire and Staffordshire, round Market Drayton, Salisbury seemed entirely cut off from York, who was now at Ludlow (Rot. Parl. v. 348, 369). The royal forces at Market Drayton under two Staffordshire peers—James Touchet, lord Audley, and John Sutton, lord Dudley—were estimated by a contemporary to have reached ten thousand men, and at any rate outnumbered the earl’s ‘fellowship’ (Whethamstede, i. 338; Gregory, p. 204). The queen was only a few miles eastwards, at Eccleshall. Fortunately for Salisbury, his son-in-law, Lord Stanley, remained inactive at Newcastle-under-Lyme with the Lancashire levies he had brought at the queen’s command; and his brother William Stanley, with other local magnates, joined the earl (Rot. Parl. v. 369). On Saturday, 22 Sept., he occupied a strong position on Blore Heath, three miles east of Market Drayton, on the Newcastle road, with his front completely protected by a small tributary of the Tern. Here he was attacked next morning by Lord Audley, whom Salisbury, according to Hall (p. 240), tempted across the brook by a feigned retreat, and then drove him in confusion down the slope before the rest of his troops had crossed the stream. The slaughter at all events was great. Of sixty-six men brought by Sir Richard Fitton of Gawsworth to the royal side, thirty-one perished (Earwaker, East Cheshire, ii. 2). Audley himself was slain. Salisbury’s two sons, Sir John Neville and Sir Thomas Neville, either pursuing the fugitives or returning home wounded, were captured near Tarporley, and imprisoned in Chester Castle (Gregory, p. 204; Fabyan, p. 634; cf. Chron. ed. Davies, p. 80, and Wavrin, 1447–71, p. 277). Salisbury got away before the royal forces could be brought up from the east, and effected his junction with York at Ludlow (Gregory, p. 204). He and his associates at Blore Heath were excluded from the offer of pardon which Henry sent to the Yorkist leaders at Ludlow (Rot. Parl.). He nevertheless joined the others in protesting ‘their true intent’ to the prosperity and augmentation of the king’s estate and to the common weal of the realm (Chron. ed. Davies, p. 81). In the flight of the Yorkist chiefs from Ludford on the night of 12 Oct., Salisbury made his way, with Warwick and the Earl of March, into Devonshire, and thence by sea to Guernsey and Calais, where they arrived on 2 Nov. (Gregory, p. 205; Fabyan, p. 634; Wavrin, p. 277; Chron. ed. Davies, p. 80; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 72). In the parliament which met at Coventry on 20 Nov. Salisbury, his three sons, and his wife, who was accused of compassing the king’s death at Middleham on 1 Aug., and urging her husband to ‘rearing of war’ against him, were all attainted, along with York and the other Yorkist leaders at Blore Heath and Ludford (Rot. Parl. v. 349).

On 26 June 1460 Salisbury recrossed the Channel with Warwick and March, landed at Sandwich, and on 2 July entered London with them (Ellis, Letters, 3rd ser., i. 91; Chron. ed. Davies, p. 94). Warwick and March leaving London a few days after to meet the king, who had advanced from Coventry to Northampton, Salisbury was left in charge of the city with Edward Brook, lord Cobham, and laid siege to the royal garrison in the Tower (ib. p. 95; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 74; Wavrin, p. 295). When the victors of Northampton brought the captive king into London on 16 July, Salisbury rode to meet him ‘withe myche rialte’ (Chron. ed. Davies, p. 98; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 74). Salisbury does not appear prominently in the proceedings of the next four months. His attainder was removed, and he was made great chamberlain of England. When the Lancastrians concentrated in Yorkshire and ravaged the lands of York and Salisbury, the protector, taking with him his brother-in-law, left London on 9 Dec., reached Sandal Castle, by Wakefield, on the 21st, and spent Christmas there. The night after the fatal battle fought there, on 30 Dec., in which his second son, Thomas, was one of the slain, Salisbury was captured by a servant of Sir Andrew Trollope, and conveyed to Pontefract Castle. According to one account he was murdered in cold blood next day by the bastard of Exeter, his head cut off, and set up with others on one of the gates of York (Worcester, p. 775; cf. Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 156). But in another version, ‘for a grete summe of money that he shuld have payed he had graunt of hys lyfe. But the commone peple of the cuntre, whych loved hym not, tooke hym owte of the castelle by violence and smote of his hed’ (Chron. ed. Davies, p. 107; cf. Monstrelet). Salisbury had made a will on 10 May 1459, ordering, among other legacies, the distribution of forty marks among poor maids at their marriages (Dugdale, i. 303; cf. Swallow, p. 146). He left Sheriff-Hutton and three neighbouring manors to his wife for life. But his nephew John, lord Neville, brother of the second Earl of Westmorland, who had fought against him at Wakefield, was rewarded for his loyalty with the office of constable of Sheriff-Hutton and Middleham Castles, along with other revenues from the Wensleydale estates of Salisbury (Dugdale, i. 299; Fœdera, xi. 437). In his will he also gave instructions that he should be buried in the priory of Bisham, near Great Marlow, in Berkshire, among the ancestors of his wife, the Montacutes, earls of Salisbury. Warwick conveyed the bodies of his father and brother to Bisham early in 1463, and buried them, with stately ceremony, in the presence of the Duke of Clarence and other great peers (Swallow, p. 146).

Salisbury’s abilities were not of a high order, but he possessed great territorial and family influence as the head of the younger branch of the Neville house. He never became popular, like his son. A Yorkist ballad-maker in 1460 referred to him coldly as ‘Richard, earl of Salisbury, called Prudence’ (Chron., ed. Davies, p. 93). Wavrin calls him rather conventionally ‘sage et imaginatif’ (iv. 271, ed. Hardy).

By his wife Alice, daughter of Thomas de Montacute or Montagu, fourth earl of Salisbury [q. v.], Salisbury had ten children, four sons and six daughters: (1) Richard, earl of Warwick and Salisbury, ‘the King-maker’ [q. v.] (2) Thomas, married in August 1453 to Maud, widow of Robert, sixth lord Willoughby de Eresby (d. 1452), a niece of Lord Cromwell; Thomas was killed in the battle of Wakefield in 1460, and left no children. (3) John [q. v.], created Baron Montagu (1461), Marquis of Montagu (1470), and Earl of Northumberland (1464–70); killed at Barnet in 1471. (4) George [q. v.], bishop of Exeter, archbishop of York, and lord-chancellor (d. 1476). (5) Joan, married William Fitzalan, earl of Arundel (1417–1487). (6) Cicely, married, first, in 1434, Henry Beauchamp, duke of Warwick [q. v.]; secondly, John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, whom she predeceased, dying on 28 July 1450 (Leland, Itin. vi. 81). (7) Alice, married Henry, lord Fitz-Hugh of Ravensworth Castle, near Richmond (1429–72), head of a powerful local family between Tees and Swale. (8) Eleanor, married Thomas Stanley, first lord Stanley, and afterwards (1485) first earl of Derby. (9) Catherine, betrothed before 10 May 1459 to the son and heir of William Bonvile, lord Harington, who, if he had outlived his father, would have been Lord Bonvile as well; Lord Harington was killed at Wakefield, and his son either predeceased him or at all events died before 17 Feb. 1461 (Complete Peerage, by G. E. C[okayne]; Historic Peerage, ed. Courthope; Ramsay, ii. 238); Catherine Neville was subsequently married to William, lord Hastings (executed 1483). (10) Margaret, married, after 1459, John de Vere III (1443–1513), thirteenth earl of Oxford, who predeceased her.

A portrait of Salisbury, from the Earl of Warwick’s tomb (1453) at Warwick, is reproduced after C. Stothard in Doyle’s ‘Official Baronage.’ He is represented without beard or moustache, and wearing a cap and hood.

[For authorities see under Neville, John, Marquis of Montagu; and Neville, Richard, Earl of Warwick.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 40
Neville, Richard (1400-1460) by James Tait

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