Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland

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Ralph Neville
4th Earl of Westmorland
Coat of arms of Sir Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland, KG.png
Arms of Sir Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland, KG
Born21 February 1498
Died24 April 1549(1549-04-24) (aged 51)
Buried at Staindrop, Durham
Noble family House of Neville
Spouse(s)Katherine Stafford
Issue Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland
Sir Thomas Neville
Edward Neville
Christopher Neville
George Neville
Ralph Neville
Cuthbert Neville
Dorothy Neville
Mary Neville
Margaret Neville
Elizabeth Neville
Eleanor Neville
Anne Neville
Ursula Neville
FatherRalph Neville, Lord Neville
MotherEdith Sandys
Field of the Cloth of Gold, engraving by James Basire (1774) Field of the cloth of gold.jpg
Field of the Cloth of Gold, engraving by James Basire (1774)

Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland KG , (21 February 1498 – 24 April 1549) was an English peer and soldier. He was the grandson of Ralph Neville, 3rd Earl of Westmorland, and the father of Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland.



Ralph Neville, born 21 February 1498, was the son of Ralph Neville (d. 1498) and Edith Sandys (d. 22 August 1529), daughter of Sir William Sandys of the Vyne by Edith Cheyne, daughter of Sir John Cheyne. He was the grandson of Ralph Neville, 3rd Earl of Westmorland, and Isabel Booth. [1]

Neville had a brother who died young, and a sister, Isabel, who married firstly, Sir Robert Plumpton, and secondly, Lawrence Kighley, Esq. Some sources refer to another sister, Cecilia, who married John Weston. [2]

After his father's death in 1498, Neville's mother, Edith, married Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy of Darcy, who was beheaded on Tower Hill 30 June 1537 for his part in the Pilgrimage of Grace. She died at Stepney on 22 August 1529, and was buried at the Friars Observant, Greenwich. [3]


Neville inherited the earldom of Westmorland as an infant at the death of his grandfather on 6 February 1499. On 9 July 1510, at about the age of twelve, his wardship was granted to Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. [4]

As a young man, Westmorland was among those who attended King Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in June 1520 and at his meeting with Emperor Charles V at Gravelines in July. On 7 November 1520 he had livery of his lands. [5] He was present at the reception for the Emperor near Dover in May 1522. In 1522–23 Westmorland saw military service on the Scottish border, where he was knighted in the latter year by Thomas Howard, then Earl of Surrey. He was installed as a member of the Order of the Garter on 25 June 1525, and before 5 February 1526 was a member of the King's Privy Council. He continued to serve on the northern border, being appointed Deputy Captain of Berwick and Vice Warden of the East and Middle Marches from October 1525 to September 1526 under the King's illegitimate son, the Duke of Richmond. In January 1526 he was the chief envoy charged with concluding a truce with Scotland. [6]

On 13 July 1530 Westmorland was among those who signed the letter to Pope Clement VII urging the annulment of the King's marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. In May 1534 he was a member of a commission directed to inquire into alleged treasonous activities by William Dacre, 3rd Baron Dacre of Gilsland.[ citation needed ] He again saw military service in the north when in June and July 1535 he was among those charged with suppressing disorders in Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmorland. On 15 May 1536, he was one of the peers who took part in the trial of the King's second wife, Anne Boleyn. During the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536–37 Westmorland remained loyal to the King, which Archbold notes is 'surprising, considering his family connections'. He refused an appointment as Warden of the East and Middle Marches at this time, allegedly because his men supported the rising. At the time Norfolk described him as 'a man of such heat and hastiness of nature' as to be 'unmeet' for the appointment. However, as Dockray notes, Norfolk may have been disparaging a potential rival. On 14 January 1537 he was made a member of the Council of the North. [7]

When his three children - Henry, Dorothy and Margaret - married in a triple-Neville ceremony in 1536, both Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour, attended the wedding.[ citation needed ]

On 12 November 1537 Westmorland attended the funeral of the King's third wife, Jane Seymour. In 1538 he was again disparaged, on this occasion being described by an anonymous writer as a man 'of great power without wit or knowledge'. In May 1544 he was in command of the East and Middle Marches during the invasion of Scotland under Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford. [8]

Westmorland died on 24 April 1549, aged 51, and was buried at Staindrop, Durham. His widow, Katherine, died 14 May 1555 at Holywell in Shoreditch, the house of her son-in-law, Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland, and was buried 17 May 1555 at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch. [9]

Marriage and issue

Westmorland was first betrothed to Elizabeth Stafford (c.1497 – 30 November 1558), the eldest daughter of his guardian, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and Eleanor Percy, with whom he is said to have been in love, and whom he was to have married before Christmas 1512. However about that time Thomas Howard made suit for her, and Elizabeth married Howard, as his second wife, before 8 January 1513. [10] Westmorland married instead, before June 1520, Stafford's second daughter, Katherine (d. 14 May 1555). They had eighteen children, including: [11]


  1. Archbold 1894 , p. 280; Cokayne 1959 , pp. 551–3; Richardson III 2011 , p. 253; Dockray 2004.
  2. Richardson III 2011 , p. 253.
  3. Cokayne 1916 , pp. 73–4; Cokayne 1959 , pp. 552–3; Richardson III 2011 , p. 253.
  4. Cokayne 1959 , p. 553.
  5. Cokayne notes that he was said to be 'still underage' at that date, although other documents establish that he had reached the age of majority.
  6. Archbold 1894 , p. 280; Cokayne 1959 , pp. 553–4; Dockray 2004.
  7. Archbold 1894 , p. 280; Cokayne 1959 , p. 554; Dockray 2004.
  8. Cokayne 1959 , p. 554; Dockray 2004.
  9. Cokayne 1959 , p. 554; Dockray 2004.
  10. Richardson II 2011 , pp. 415–16.
  11. Cokayne 1959 , p. 554; Dockray 2004.
  12. Cokayne 1959 , pp. 557–9.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 Flower 1881, p.  226.
  14. Bradley 2004.
  15. Bradley 2004.
  16. Cokayne 1936 , p. 249.
  17. 1 2 Nelson, Alan H. (2003). Monstrous Adversary: The Life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Liverpool: Liverpool UP. pp. 14–15. ISBN   978-0853236788.
  18. Fisher 1865 , p. 104.
  19. Cokayne 1949 , pp. 256–7.
  20. Cokayne 1916 , pp. 22–3
  21. Chetwynd-Stapleton 1884 , p. 415; Hoyle 2004.
  22. Flower 1881, pp. 295–6.
  23. Papers of the Stapleton Family, National Archives. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  24. Foster 1874.
  25. Gouws 2004; Richardson II 2011 , p. 269.

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Peerage of England
Preceded by Earl of Westmorland
Succeeded by