Ralph Neville (1363-1425)

 

Relation to me: 17th Great Grandfather

Ralph Neville was an English nobleman born into the House of Neville. He was born in 1364 to John Neville, the 3rd Baron Neville de Raby and Maud Percy. Maud was the daughter of Henry de Percy, the 2nd Baron Percy of Alnwick, Northumberland, England. Her mother was Idoine de Clifford, the daughter of Robert de Clifford, the 1st Baron de Clifford. The couple had other children including Ralph, another son and five daughters. Their names were Thomas Neville, Lady Alice Neville, Lady Maud Neville, Lady Idoine Neville, Lady Eleanor Neville and Lady Elizabeth Neville. After Ralph’s mother passed away, his father remarried before the 9th of October 1381 to a woman by the name of Elizabeth Latimer. She was the daughter of William Latimer, the 4th Baron Latimer. By his marriage to Elizabeth, John Neville had another daughter and another son: John Neville and Lady Elizabeth Neville.

Ralph’s Career

Ralph’s first taste of military service would be in Brittany under King Richard II’s uncle, Thomas of Woodstock. Woodstock had knighted him at Saint-Omer in July of 1380. On the 14th of November of 1381, Ralph and his cousin, Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy were commissioned to preside over a duel between an Englishman and a Scot. Two years later, on the 1st of December, John Neville and his son, Ralph, were commissioned to receive 24,000 marks from the Scots for the ransom of King David of Scotland. On the 26th of October 1385, Ralph was appointed as joint governor of Carlisle with Sir Thomas Clifford and about five months later he was appointed, along with Clifford to be joint Warden of the West March.

Neville would inherit his father’s title at the age of twenty-four when his father passed away on the 17th of October of 1388. He was summoned to Parliament from the 6th of December 1387 through the 25th of October 1388, where he was appointed with others to survey fortifications on the Scottish border. On the 24th of May 1389, Ralph was made a keeper for life of the royal forests that were north of the Trent. Between 1393 and 1394, he would be employed in peace negotiations with Scotland.

In 1397, Ralph would support King Richard’s proceedings against Thomas of Woodstock and the Lords Appellant. By way of reward, Ralph was created Earl of Westmorland on the 29th of September 1397. However, his loyalty to the king was tested not long after. His first wife, Margaret Stafford had passed away on the 9th of June 1396 and his second marriage to Joan Beaufort before the 29th of November 1396, made him the son-in-law of King Richard’s uncle, John of Gaunt, the 1st Duke of Lancaster. Thus, when King Richard had banished John’s eldest son and heir, Henry Bolingbroke on the 16th of September 1398, Richard would also confiscate Bolingbroke’s estates that he had received upon the death of John of Gaunt in 1399. Westmorland was moved to support his brother-in-law and Bolingbroke would land with a small force at Ravenspur in July of 1399. Neville and the Earl of Northumberland were in deputation at the Tower of London, which would receive King Richard’s abdication. Ralph would hold the small scepter called the ‘virge’ at Bolingbroke’s coronation as King Henry IV on the 13th of October 1399.

In showing appreciation for the new king, Ralph was rewarded with a lifetime appointment as the Earl of Marshal on the 30th of September 1399, even though he’d resign the office in 1412. A lifetime grant of the honor of Richard on the 20th of October, although the grant was not accompanied by a grant of the title of Earl of Richmond and several wardships. Before the 4th of December, Ralph was appointed to the King’s council. During March of 1401, Ralph was one of the commissioners who had conducted negotiations for a marriage between the king’s eldest daughter, Blanche of England and Louis, the son of Rupert, King of the Romans. Two years later, Ralph was made a Knight of the Garter, taking the place of Edmund of Langley, the 1st Duke of York, when he had left the position vacant when he passed away.

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