Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Neville, Charles

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NEVILLE, CHARLES, sixth Earl of Westmorland (1543–1601), was eldest son of Henry, fifth earl (1525?–1563) [see under Neville, Ralph, fourth Earl], by his first wife, Jane, daughter of Thomas Manners, first earl of Rutland [q. v.] He was born in 1543, and was brought up in all probability as a Roman catholic at Raby Castle, Durham, the family seat. His father certainly was a reactionary, and was one of the supporters of Queen Mary (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. p. 610). In August 1563 Charles succeeded as sixth Earl of Westmorland on the death of his father. He did not, however, take his seat in the House of Lords till 30 Sept. 1566. His marriage into the Howard family definitely connected him with the old catholic party, but he was loyal in 1565, when the Earl of Bedford met him at Morpeth. He was doubtless fired to rebellion by the advice of his numerous catholic relatives, especially Christopher Neville [q. v.] (cf. Bowes to Sussex, 15 Nov. 1569, in Memorials of the Rebellion, p. 34), and by that of many family friends in the north. Nevertheless in March 1569 he was on the council for the north, and was made a commissioner for musters. His attitude became known in the autumn of 1569. In September he was required to meet the Earl of Sussex at York. He and the Earl of Northumberland declined (4 Nov.) to go [see Percy, Thomas, d. 1572]. The government, finding that the two earls had been in correspondence with the Spanish ambassador, ordered them to come to London, and their refusal to obey was the formal signal of rebellion. Early in November they assembled their forces, marched from Raby to Durham on 14 Nov., restored the mass, and pushed on south to Darlington, and thence towards York. Their first design was to release Mary Queen of Scots, who was then confined at Tutbury; and, as they wished to avoid a check at the outset, they passed by York without assaulting it. A detachment from their army meanwhile had secured Hartlepool in order to keep open communications with the continent, whence aid was expected. By the time the main body reached Clifford Moor Mary was no longer at Tutbury, having been safely moved to Coventry. Their disappointment entirely changed the plans of the rebels, who now most unwisely resolved to retreat, in the hope of holding the north of England, and there intended to wait to give battle to any force that might be sent against them. The leaders were solemnly proclaimed traitors at Windsor on 26 Nov., and on the 30th the retreating army broke up. Westmorland went to Barnard Castle, which was held by Sir George Bowes, who had to capitulate owing to the treachery of the garrison [see under Bowes, Sir George, (1527–1580)]. Thence he led his men to Raby, which is only a few miles distant.

At the approach of the main royal army from the south Westmorland fled, with Northumberland, across the border into the country of the Kers, living for a time in the castle of Ferniehurst, Roxburghshire (cf. Memorials, p. 114). Sir Robert Constable, an English spy, was employed to try and induce the earl, who was a connection by marriage (cf. Testamenta Vetusta, p. 705), to come into England, and from Constable's house sue for pardon; but Constable's negotiations were unsuccessful. The account of the transaction will be found in the ‘Sadler State Papers.’ The earl passed over into the Spanish Netherlands. At first he lived at Louvain, and seems to have been provided with money, as he kept twelve or thirteen servants. His pension from the king of Spain was two hundred crowns a month.

Meanwhile in 1571 he was formally attainted (13 Eliz. cap. 16), his estates in the diocese of Durham going to the crown instead of to the bishop, on the novel plea that the crown had had the trouble of defending them. The famous castle of Raby remained crown property till it was bought by Sir Harry Vane about 1645, and thus it is now held by Lord Barnard, his representative.

Occasional notices of Westmorland, not always to his credit, are found during the next thirty years. In January 1572 he was one of the deputation of English exiles who asked aid from Philip at Brussels in support of the Ridolfi plot. Philip, however, or at all events Alva, knew the real value of his suggestions, and when in 1573 he urged the landing of a force in Northumberland, Alva remarked that his word was that of a nobleman out of his country. In spite of these transactions Westmorland was continually trying to negotiate for his return to England, but the only result seems to have been unsuccessful plots to kidnap him on the part of the English government in 1575 and 1586. About 1577 he went to live at Maestricht, and is said to have been friendly with Don John of Austria, though apparently he had no official relations with him. In 1580 he was colonel of a regiment composed of English refugees in the Spanish service, and in March 1581 he went on a pilgrimage to Rome, to get money if possible. He stayed at the English College, and returned with some sort of a commission. He is said to have lived viciously in later life, and is described in 1583 as ‘a person utterly wasted by looseness of life and by God's punishment.’ He was at Brussels in 1600, thinking of another marriage, but died, deep in debt, at Nieuport on 16 Nov. 1601.

Westmorland married before 1564 Jane Howard, eldest daughter of Henry Howard, earl of Surrey [q. v.] His wife, of whom he was evidently fond, was a woman of spirit. Bowes records, in a letter of 15 Nov. 1569, that when Markenfield, Reed, and other rebels left the earl she ‘braste owte agaynste them with great curses, as well for their unhappye counselling as nowe, there cowerd flyghte.’ She had a pension of 300l. from the queen during her husband's exile, died in 1593, and was buried at Kenninghall, Norfolk. By her Westmorland left four daughters: Catherine, married to Sir Thomas Grey of Chillingham, Northumberland; Eleanor, who died unmarried; Margaret, who married Sir Nicholas Pudsey of Yorkshire; Anne, who married David, brother of Sir William Ingleby of Ripley, Yorkshire. Interesting particulars as to Lady Margaret's conversion from Roman catholicism by Mathew Hutton [q. v.] in 1594–5 are to be found in Hutton's ‘Correspondence’ (Surtees Soc.), p. 92, &c.

[Surtees's Hist. of Durham, vol. iv.; Surtees's Sketch of the Stock of the Neviles, pp. 11, 12; Cal. of State Papers, Dom.; Froude's Hist. of Engl.; Cal. of Hatfield MSS. iii. 136, 147; Rowland's Hist. Family of Nevill; Memorials of the Rebellion of 1569; Doyle's Official Baronage, iii. 635; Stoney's Life and Times of Sir R. Sadler; Sadler State Papers; Norton's Letters, f. iii.; Bishop Percy's Folio MS. ii. 210, &c.]

W. A. J. A.