Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Neville, Ralph (1499-1550)
NEVILLE, RALPH, fourth Earl of Westmorland (1499–1550), was born 21 Feb. 1499. His grandfather, Ralph, third earl (1456–1523), who was nephew of Ralph, second earl (d. 1484) [see under Neville, Ralph, first earl], was captain in the army which invaded Scotland in 1497 to oppose the alliance between James IV and Perkin Warbeck; by his wife Margaret or Matilda, daughter of Sir Roger Booth of Barton in Lancashire, he was father of Ralph, called Lord Neville (d. 1498), who married, first, a daughter of William Paston (she died in 1489), and, secondly, Editha, daughter of Sir William Sandys of the Vine, sister of Sir William Sandys, K.G., afterwards Lord Sandys [q. v.] Ralph, lord Neville, was father of the fourth earl by his second wife. After Lord Neville's death his widow married Thomas (afterwards Lord) Darcy [q. v.]; she died at Stepney on 22 Aug. 1529, and was buried at the church of the Friars Minors at Greenwich in Kent. Her daughter by Lord D'Arcy married Sir Marmaduke Constable of Flamborough, Yorkshire.
In 1520 Ralph was at the Field of the Cloth of Gold and at the reception of the emperor at Calais, and the same year he received livery of his lands, at which time he is said to have been under age. He took part in the reception of Charles V in England in 1522, and in September of the same year was serving against the Scots. He was a vigorous commander on the borders, and is spoken of as being carried when ill in a horse litter over from Durham to Brough. He was knighted in 1523, and became K.G. on 7 June 1525. From June 1525 to September 1526 he held the important offices of deputy captain of Berwick and vice-warden of the east and middle marches. Consequently he was named on 27 Aug. 1525 chief commissioner and special envoy to treat with the Scots, and on 15 Jan. 1526 concluded, with Thomas Magnus [q. v.] and Brian Higden, the truce with Scotland which followed Henry's change of policy of 1525. Westmorland became a privy councillor on 5 Feb. 1526, and is noted as one who had to attend to matters of law in the council (Letters and Papers Henry VIII, iv. iii. App. 67).
In May 1534 Westmorland, the Earl of Cumberland, and Sir Thomas Clifford made a search at Auckland Castle among the effects of Tunstal, but they found very little of a traitorous nature (ib. v. 986, vii. App. 18). On 23 May 1534 he had received a general commission to inquire into treasons in Cumberland, and during 1535 he was very busy trying to keep order in Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmoreland, in virtue of another special commission.
Westmorland remained loyal during the Pilgrimage of Grace, which is surprising considering his family connections. He said of the pilgrims that he preserved himself ‘from the infection of their traitorous poison’ (ib. xi. 1003). He was a captain to guard the east marches in April 1544, and member of the council of the north in 1545. He died on 24 April 1550, and was buried at Staindrop, Durham. A letter in his handwriting forms Addit. MS. 32646. Westmorland married Lady Catherine, second daughter of Edward Stafford, third duke of Buckingham; she died on 14 May 1555, and was buried at Shoreditch Church (Machyn, Diary, Camd. Soc. pp. 88, 343). By her he had seven sons (of whom Christopher and Cuthbert are separately noticed) and eleven daughters. A letter from the countess to the Earl of Shrewsbury is printed in Mrs. Green's ‘Letters of Illustrious Ladies’ (iii. 182).
The eldest son, Henry Neville, fifth Earl of Westmorland (1525?–1563), was born in 1525 (cf. Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, iv. ii. 4891). He was knighted in 1544, succeeded to the title in 1550, held a commission to divide the debatable land between England and Scotland in 1551, was a privy councillor probably in 1552, and ambassador to Scotland in the same year. He became K.G. and lord-lieutenant of Durham on 7 May 1552. He supported Mary on Edward VI's death, and bore the second sword and the cap of maintenance at her coronation. He again had a commission to treat with Scotland in 1557, was general of horse in the northern army the same year, and from 22 Jan. 1558 to 25 Dec. 1559 was lieutenant-general of the north, probably in succession to the more usual appointment of warden of the west marches. He strangely appears as an ecclesiastical commissioner in 1560. He died in August 1563. He married, first, according to Doyle, 3 July 1536, when he was only eleven years old, Lady Jane Manners, second daughter of Thomas, first earl of Rutland; secondly, Jane, daughter of Sir Roger Cholmeley; and, thirdly, her sister Margaret, widow of Sir Henry Gascoigne. Charles Neville, sixth earl, the eldest son by the first wife, is separately noticed.[Doyle's Official Baronage; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, passim; State Papers, i. 598, and vols. iv. and v. passim, ix. 671; Plumpton Correspondence, passim; Chronicle of Calais, p. 20; Rutland Papers, pp. 30, 45, 73; Bapst's Deux Gentilshommes poètes de la Cour de Henry VIII, p. 150, &c.; Wriothesley's Chronicle, i. 50; Chron. of Queen Jane and Queen Mary, pp. 82, 99, all in the Camd. Soc.; Metcalfe's Knights, pp. 78, 99; Parker's Correspondence (Parker Soc.), p. 105.]