ship were definitely acquired by the holder of the title (Swallow, De Nova Villa, pp. 229–30; Historic Peerage, p. 16; Inq. post mortem, iv. 406). Henry VIII restored them to George Neville, third baron Bergavenny. The history of the barony of Abergavenny is marked by more than one anomaly, but, if those were right who have maintained that it was held by the tenure of the castle, this would be the greatest.
Edward Neville was the first person who was undoubtedly summoned to parliament under the express style of ‘Lord of Bergavenny,’ and Sir Harris Nicolas was inclined to think that he ought to be considered the first holder of the Abergavenny barony (Historic Peerage). He made very little figure in the stormy times in which some of his brothers and nephews were so prominent. In 1449 he had seen some military service in Normandy, and his son had been one of the hostages for the performance of the conditions on which the English were allowed to march out of Rouen in October of that year (Stevenson, Wars in France, ii. 611–12, 628). In the civil strife he followed the lead of the heads of his family. When, in 1454, his brother-in-law, the Duke of York, became protector of the kingdom, and his eldest brother, the Earl of Salisbury, chancellor, Abergavenny, with other Neville peers, sat pretty regularly in the privy council (Ord. Privy Council, vol. v.). Northampton is the only battle of the civil war in which his presence is mentioned (Chron. ed. Davies). When Edward IV became king, Abergavenny served in the north under his nephews against the Lancastrians in the autumn of 1462, and more than once occurs as a commissioner of array in Kent, where he probably resided at his first wife's manor of Birling, close to Maidstone (Doyle; Swallow, p. 287). Abergavenny did not change his king with his nephew Warwick, died on 18 Oct. 1476, and apparently was buried in the priory church at Abergavenny, where there is a monument of a warrior, at whose feet is a bull, the crest of Neville (ib. p. 230). By his first wife, Elizabeth Beauchamp, he had two sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Richard, died during his father's lifetime, and was buried in Staindrop Church, the ancient Neville mausoleum by the gates of Raby Castle (Surtees, iv. 130; cf. Dugdale, i. 309). Raby was now in the hands of the elder family of Ralph, earl of Westmorland, which was, by 1440, on the worst of terms with the younger. But George, the second son who succeeded his father as baron of Abergavenny, is said to have been born at Raby. The direct male line of Edward Neville ended with his great-grandson, Henry Neville, who died in 1587, leaving only a daughter, married to Sir Thomas Fane. Henry Neville's cousin, Edward Neville (d. 1589), obtained the castle and lordship of Abergavenny under an entail created by Henry's father. Edward Neville's son and namesake claimed the barony in 1598 as heir male, but a counter-claim was raised by Lady Fane as heir-general. The matter was settled by a compromise in 1604, when Lady Fane was allowed the barony of Le Despenser and the barony of Abergavenny was confirmed to Edward Neville, whose male descendant in the ninth generation now holds the dignity. The arrangement was a most anomalous one. According to all modern peerage law the writ of 1604 must have created a new barony. The four subsequent occasions on which the barony has been allowed to go to heirs male would in strictness equally constitute new creations (Complete Peerage, pp. 20–4). The present Marquis of Abergavenny is the fourteenth holder of the barony (which has twice gone to cousins) from Edward Neville, who died in 1622 (Historic Peerage). He also represents an unbroken Neville descent in the male line of twenty-one generations, from Geoffrey de Neville in the reign of Henry III, and a still longer one through Geoffrey's father, Robert Fitz-Maldred, a pedigree without parallel among English noble families [see under Neville, Robert de, d. 1282].
Abergavenny's second wife was Catherine Howard, daughter of Sir Robert Howard, and sister of John Howard, first duke of Norfolk. His first wife is said to have died on 18 June 1448 (Doyle; Swallow, p. 231), and he then married Catherine Howard. But he was excommunicated for doing so on the ground that they had had illicit relations during his wife's lifetime, and were within the third degree of consanguinity. Pope Nicholas V was, however, persuaded to grant a dispensation for the marriage. Dugdale gives 15 Oct. 1448 as the date of the bull, which, supposing the date of Elizabeth Beauchamp's death to be correct, does not leave much time for the intermediate proceedings. Both dates are irreconcileable with the age (twenty-six) which Dugdale (from the Escheat Roll) gives to her second son at his father's death in 1476. Sir Harris Nicolas gives thirty-six as his age, and, if this is a correction and not an error, it will remove the worst difficulty. It is certainly most unlikely that George Neville should have been born at Raby Castle in 1450 (cf. Paston Letters, i. 397).
The children of the second marriage were two sons, Ralph and Edward, who died