Neville, John, Lord Neville

(d. 1461)
   A member of the Westmorland branch of the NEVILLE FAMILY and a partisan of the house of LANCASTER, John Neville, Lord Neville, played a prominent part in the Battles of WAKEFIELD and FERRYBRIDGE. Neville was a son of John Neville, the eldest son of Ralph Neville (1354–1425), first earl of Westmorland, by the earl’s first marriage. John Neville was thus a nephew of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury,Westmorland’s eldest son by his second marriage. In the 1440s, when the sons and grandsons of Westmorland’s two families fell to squabbling over the old earl’s extensive northern estates, John Neville played a prominent part in the struggle. When his uncle Salisbury and his cousin Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, allied themselves with Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, in the 1450s, Neville supported HENRY VI, thus merging the family feud into the WARS OF THE ROSES. In 1459, John Neville was raised to the PEERAGE as Lord Neville and attended the COVENTRY PARLIAMENT, which passed bills of ATTAINDER dispossessing his Yorkist cousins. Neville apparently cooperated with the Yorkist regime established by Warwick in July 1460 when the earl captured the king at the Battle of NORTHAMPTON. On his return from IRELAND in the autumn,York issued a COMMISSION OF ARRAY to Neville, authorizing him to raise troops for the government. When York and Salisbury marched north in December to suppress Lancastrian insurgents, they expected to be reinforced by Neville and his men. However, unbeknownst to the duke, Neville brought the troops he raised under Yorkist authority into the Lancastrian camp. One theory as to why York left the safety of Sandal Castle on 30 December to engage the Lancastrians in open battle is that he mistook a force that appeared behind a body of enemy skirmishers as Neville’s promised reinforcements. Mistakenly thinking he had a body of Lancastrians trapped between two Yorkist armies,York sallied forth to his death at the Battle of WAKEFIELD. Salisbury was captured and executed shortly thereafter, apparently without any protest from his Lancastrian nephew.
   Although Neville’s exact role at Wakefield is unclear and known mostly from Yorkist NEVILLE, JOHN, LORD NEVILLE 179 sources, it was sufficiently pro-Lancastrian for Henry VI to reward him with custody of Salisbury’s Yorkshire castles. Neville likely fought with MARGARET OF ANJOU’s army at the Battle of ST. ALBANS in February 1461, and he was definitely with the Lancastrian army in the following month, when he was killed at the Battle of FERRYBRIDGE by a body of mounted ARCHERS led by his uncle (and Salisbury’s brother), William NEVILLE, Lord Fauconberg.
   See also North of England and the Wars of the Roses; all other entries under Neville
   Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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