Neville, Thomas, Bastard of Fauconberg

(d. 1471)
   Thomas Neville, a cousin and supporter of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, led the last serious act of resistance against EDWARD IV in 1471.
   Known as the Bastard of Fauconberg, Thomas Neville was an illegitimate son of William NEVILLE, Lord Fauconberg and earl of Kent. In April 1470, Neville commanded a squadron in the royal NAVY, but he defected with it to Warwick when his cousin fled England after an unsuccessful rebellion against Edward IV. When Warwick returned and forced Edward to flee the country in October 1470, the earl placed Neville in command of the fleet (see Edward IV, Overthrow of). Although he spent weeks patrolling the English Channel in early 1471, Neville was distracted by Breton and Burgundian naval activity and failed to intercept Edward when he crossed to England in March (see Edward IV, Restoration of).
   In early May, Neville was reinforced by 300 men from the CALAIS garrison. Unaware of the defeat and death of Warwick at the Battle of BARNET on 14 April, Neville landed in Kent and recruited a large army of Lancastrians, economic and social malcontents, and troublemakers interested more in looting than in politics. On 12 May, with his fleet at anchor in the Thames and his army at the gates, Neville demanded entry into LONDON. Edward was on campaign in the west, but the city authorities refused Neville’s demand and beat off an attack across London Bridge. The next day, the citizens also frustrated Neville’s attempt to cross the river farther west to attack Westminster. On 14 May, Neville bombarded London from his ships and launched further unsuccessful assaults on London Bridge and the city’s eastern approaches. Anthony WOODVILLE, Earl Rivers, one of the Yorkist lords in the city, then scattered Neville’s force with a sudden attack out of the TOWER OF LONDON.
   Neville withdrew to Blackheath, but he did not abandon his enterprise until advance elements of the royal army, fresh from their victory at the Battle of TEWKESBURY, entered London with news of the king’s imminent arrival. When Edward entered the city in triumph on 21 May, Neville was in Sandwich, where he dismissed his Calais troops. On 27 May, finally aware that Lancastrian resistance had collapsed across the country, Neville surrendered himself and his fleet to Richard, duke of Gloucester (see Richard III, King of England). Pardoned by the king, Neville went into the north to serve under Gloucester, but he was executed, for uncertain reasons, at Middleham Castle in September, his head being set on London Bridge facing Kent.
   See also 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); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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