Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Neville, John de

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

NEVILLE, JOHN de, fifth Baron Neville of Raby (d. 1388), was the eldest son of Ralph de Neville, fourth baron Neville of Raby [q. v.], by his wife Alice, daughter of Sir Hugh de Audley of Stratton-Audley, in Oxfordshire, and aunt of Sir James Audley, one of the most gallant followers of the Black Prince (Beltz, Memorials of the Order of the Garter, p. 75). His brothers, Alexander, archbishop of York [q. v.], and Sir William (d. 1389?) [q. v.], are separately noticed. In the inquisition taken in 1368, after his father's death, John Neville is described as then twenty-six years of age (ib. p. 166). But this is undoubtedly an error, as both John and his next brother Robert were old enough to take part in the Earl of Derby's Gascon campaign of 1345. He was present with his father at the battle of Neville's Cross on 17 Oct. 1346, and accompanied the Earl of Lancaster to Gascony in 1349 (Froissart, viii. 9, ed. Lettenhove; ‘Durham Register,’ in Dugdale's Baronage, i. 296; Galfrid le Baker, p. 108). In April 1360 Edward III, approaching within two leagues of Paris, knighted Neville, with Lord Fitzwalter and others, who had undertaken to skirmish up to the walls of the city under the leadership of Sir Walter Manny (Froissart, v. 231). There is some reason to believe that he took part in the Black Prince's Spanish expedition in the spring of 1367 (Chandos, p. 152; Froissart, vii. 7).

His father died in August of this year, and early in the next Neville was summoned to parliament (Nicolas, Historic Peerage, p. 346). The lord of Raby and Brancepeth was expected to take his share in the arduous service of guarding the Scottish border, and the new baron was at once (1368) put on the commission entrusted with the custody of the east march (Dugdale, p. 296). Lord Burghersh dying in April 1369, Neville was given his garter (Beltz, p. 166). Next year he entered into an indenture to serve in France with 240 men, increased to four hundred on his appointment (20 May) to be admiral of the fleet from the Thames northward (Dugdale). Six weeks later he was ordered to assist in conveying the celebrated commander Sir Robert Knolles [q. v.] to France (Fœdera, vi. 658). He was still in command of the fleet at the end of May 1371 (ib. iii. 917, Record ed.) Later in the year he may have proceeded to the scene of the war in France (Dugdale). John of Gaunt, who in this year was left by the Black Prince as his lieutenant in Aquitaine, had in 1370 formally retained the services of Neville for life. He was to pay him fifty marks a year, and defray the expenses of himself and a small following in time of peace, and in time of war to assign him five hundred marks a year for the services of himself and forty well-armed men over and above the king's wages, if he were called to France. If the duke should call upon him to serve against the Scots, he was to provide fifty men and be paid in proportion (ib.)

The English steadily losing ground in France, Neville was commissioned in June 1372 to negotiate an offensive and defensive alliance with the king's son-in-law, John de Montfort, duke of Brittany, and a treaty was concluded on 19 July at London (Froissart, ed. Luce, vol. viii. p. xxx). Four days later Neville was ordered, in fulfilment of one of the provisions of the treaty, to take six hundred men to Brittany, where he was invested with an authority superior even to the duke's (ib. p. lxx; Fœdera, iii. 948, 953, 961, Record ed.) He lay at Southampton for fifteen weeks before he could get together sufficient vessels to transport his force, or so, at least, he afterwards alleged (ib. iii. 961; Rot. Parl. ii. 329). Sailing towards the end of October, he landed at Saint Mathieu, at the western extremity of the modern department of Finisterre (Froissart, vol. viii. pp. lix, 106). Leaving a garrison there, he presently took over, with Sir Robert Knolles, the command of Brest. The Breton lords were hostile to the English, and, on their invitation, Du Guesclin entered Brittany in April. The duke fled to England (28 April), and Brest was invested (ib. p. lxxi). The progress of the French arms, and the siege of Knolles's own castle of Derval, induced Neville and him, on 6 July, to enter into an engagement to surrender at the end of a month if John of Gaunt, who was bringing over an army, had not previously arrived (ib. p. clx). Knolles seems to have gone off to Derval; for Neville alone signed (4 Aug.) the repudiation of the promise to surrender, on the ground that the treaty had been violated by the French (ib. p. lxxxi). By 7 Aug. William de Montacute, second earl of Salisbury and Neville's younger brother, William (d. 1389?) [q. v.], brought to Brest the fleet with which they had been lying at St. Malo for some months (Arch. Hist. de la Gironde, xii. 328). Lancaster's advance from Calais at this juncture prevented the resumption of the siege of Brest, and Neville either returned at once to England with the fleet, or joined Knolles at Derval (Froissart, viii. 146; cf. Rot. Parl. ii. 329).

At the consecration of his brother Alexander as archbishop of York at Westminster, on 4 June 1374, Neville was present with a brilliant crowd of nobles (Registrum Palatinum Dunelmense, iii. 528). Towards the end of August he was commissioned, with the Bishop of Carlisle and others, to mediate between his nephew (and brother-in-law), Henry Percy, afterwards first earl of Northumberland [q. v.], and the Earl of Douglas (Fœdera, vii. 45).

Closely associated with the unpopular John of Gaunt and with the English reverses in France, seneschal of the household in the last years of Edward III, when scandals abounded, Neville did not escape the storm of national indignation which broke over the court in the spring of 1376. The wrath of the Good parliament was in the first place directed against Richard Lyons and William Latimer, fourth lord Latimer [q. v.], but Neville's turn soon came. Latimer, whose seat was at Danby in Cleveland, was a Yorkshire neighbour of Neville, who was to take Latimer's daughter Elizabeth for his second wife. The hostile St. Albans chronicler alleges that Latimer, by pecuniary and other promises, induced Neville to use threatening language to the commons on his behalf. Neville is said to have informed them, in ‘great swelling words,’ that it was intolerable that a peer of the realm should be attacked by such as they, and that they would probably fall into the pit they had dug for others. But the speaker, Sir Peter de la Mare [q. v.], curtly told him that it was not the place of one who would presently be arraigned himself to intercede for others (Chron. Angliæ, 1328–88, p. 80). Neville was accordingly impeached on three counts: for buying up the king's debts, like Latimer; for suffering his troops to plunder and outrage at Southampton in 1372; and for causing the loss of several Breton fortresses by neglecting to supply the full force of men he had undertaken to furnish (Rot. Parl. ii. 229). Against the two latter charges he defended himself with some force. On the first count two accusations were brought against him, one of which the complainant attempted to withdraw at the last moment. It almost looks as if he had been tampered with by the accused or his friends.

The commons petitioned that Neville should be put out of all his offices about the court, and he was sentenced to make restitution to those he had injured and pay a fine of eight thousand marks (ib.; Chron. Angliæ, p. 81). But the parliament of January 1377 reversed these proceedings. Neville was entrusted with a commission on the Scottish border, and, after the accession of Richard II in June, made governor of Bamborough Castle (Dugdale). In the following year, a more energetic policy abroad being determined upon, Neville was on 10 June appointed lieutenant of the king in Aquitaine, and empowered to treat with Peter, king of Arragon, and Gaston Phœbus, count of Foix (Fœdera, Record ed. iv. 43–4). A few weeks later (1 Aug.) the new lieutenant was ordered to send a force to aid Charles, king of Navarre, against Henry of Castille, whose throne was claimed by John of Gaunt (ib. vii. 200). Sailing from Plymouth, Neville apparently did not reach Bordeaux until 8 Sept., when he took up his residence in the abbey of St. Andrew; and, despatching Sir Thomas Trivet to help Charles of Navarre, he took an expedition down the Gironde, and after some delay recovered Mortagne near its mouth, subsequently taking the Tower of St. Maubert in the Medoc (Froissart, ed. Lettenhove, ix. 84–9, 101, xxii. 289). He was still in Aquitaine in 1380, but had returned to England by 5 July 1381, when he was ordered to provide men for the armed retinue assigned to John of Gaunt for his defence against the peasant insurgents (Fœdera, vii. 319). He is credited with having recovered eighty-three towns, castles, and forts during his lieutenancy; but on what authority Ralph Glover made this statement we do not know (Dugdale, i. 297). During the remaining years of his life he was constantly employed on the Scottish border, first as joint warden of both marches, and afterwards as sole warden of the east march (ib.) According to Froissart (x. 522, ed. Lettenhove), he wished to join in Bishop Despenser's crusade of 1383, but the king would not give his permission. There seems no evidence to support the statement that he did service at some time against the Turks (Dugdale). His last days were embittered by the misfortunes of his brother, Archbishop Alexander, who in 1387 was driven from his see and the country by the lords appellant. He himself was refused payment of the arrears due to him for the defence of the marches (Froissart, ed. Lettenhove, xiii. 200). As late as 26 March 1388 he was placed on a commission to treat for peace with Scotland.

He died at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 17 Oct. 1388, the anniversary of the battle of Neville's Cross (Fœdera, vii. 572; Dugdale). In his will, dated 31 Aug. 1386, he left money to be divided among his carters, ploughmen, and herdsmen, founded a chantry in the Charterhouse at Coventry, and further endowed the hospital founded by his family at Well, near Bedale, Yorkshire (Wills and Inventories, Surtees Soc., i. 38). He was buried in the Neville chantry in the south aisle of Durham Cathedral, near his father and his first wife, Maud Percy. His tomb, sadly mutilated by the Scottish prisoners taken at Dunbar, who were confined there in 1650, is engraved in vol. iv. of Surtees's ‘History of Durham’ (cf. Greenwell, Durham Cathedral, p. 84; Swallow, p. 294). He had borne the greater part of the cost of the great screen of Dorsetshire stone behind the high altar, begun in 1372 and finished before 1380, which is still called the Neville Screen (Greenwell, p. 71; Swallow, p. 296; Dugdale, i. 296). Neville was the builder of the greater part of Raby Castle as it still exists. He got a license to castellate and fortify it from Bishop Hatfield on 10 May 1378 (but cf. Swallow, p. 272; J. P. Pritchett in Journal of British Archæolog. Assoc. 1886). He also obtained, in 1381 or 1382, a royal license to crenellate his house at Sheriff-Hutton, close to York, but probably left most of the work to his son and successor, Ralph Neville, afterwards Earl of Westmorland (Dugdale).

Neville was twice married: first, to Maud Percy, daughter of Henry, lord Percy (d. 1352), and aunt of the first Earl of Northumberland; and, secondly, to Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of William, lord Latimer of Danby in Cleveland. Neville had already issue by her when, in 1381, he received livery of her inheritance. She afterwards married Robert, fourth lord Willoughby de Eresby (d. 1396), and died on 5 Nov. 1395 (Dugdale; Surtees, History of Durham, iv. 159).

By his first wife Neville had two sons—(1) Ralph III, sixth baron Neville of Raby and first earl of Westmorland [q. v.]; (2) Thomas, who married Joan, daughter of the last Baron Furnival, on whose death, in 1383, he was summoned to parliament as Thomas Neville ‘of Hallamshire,’ though generally called Lord Furnival (Nicolas, Historic Peerage). He was war-treasurer under Henry IV, and died in 1406, and his only child, Maud, carried the barony of Furnival to John Talbot, afterwards the great Earl of Shrewsbury.

The daughters of the first marriage were: (1) Elizabeth, who became a nun in the Minories, outside Aldgate, London; (2) Alice, married to William, lord Deincourt, who died on 14 Oct. 1381; (3) Mathilda, who married William le Scrope; (4) Iolande or Idina (Swallow, p. 34); (5) Eleanor, married Ralph, lord Lumley, slain and attainted in 1400. A sixth daughter is mentioned in his will.

By his second wife Neville had a son John, who proved his age in 1404, and was summoned to parliament as Baron Latimer until his death in 1430. He sold the Latimer barony to his eldest half-brother, the Earl of Westmorland (Dugdale).

Surtees adds a daughter Elizabeth, married to Sir Thomas Willoughby, third son of Robert, fourth lord Willoughby de Eresby (d. 1396).

[Rotuli Parliamentorum; Rymer's Fœdera, original and Record editions; Lords' Report on the Dignity of a Peer; Galfrid le Baker, ed. Maunde Thompson; Chronicon Angliæ, 1328–88, and Registrum Palatinum Dunelmense, in Rolls Ser.; Chandos Herald's Black Prince, ed. Francisque-Michel; Froissart, ed. Luce (to 1377) and Kervyn de Lettenhove; Chronique du bon Duc Louis de Bourbon, published by the Société de l'Histoire de France; Wills and Inventories, ed. James Raine for the Surtees Soc., vol. i.; Surtees's History of Durham, vol. iv.; Swallow's De Nova Villa, 1885; Dugdale's Baronage; Segar's Baronagium Genealogicum, ed. Edmondson; Nicolas's Historic Peerage, ed. Courthope; Beltz's Memorials of the Order of the Garter; Barnes's History of Edward III; Selby's Genealogist, iii. 107, &c.]

J. T-t.