NEVILLE, Sir John, of Wymeswold, Leics.
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Family and Education
s. of Sir John Neville of Wymeswold and prob. er. bro. of Sir Henry*. Kntd. bef. Oct. 1382.
Commr. to put down rebellion, Leics. Dec. 1381; raise forces to go against the Percys July 1403.
Prob. constable of the earl of Arundel’s castle of Holt, Denb. bef. July-19 Oct. 1397.
Jt. capt. (with Sir Henry Neville) of Carmarthen castle 20 Aug. 1404-5.
The Nevilles had held Wymeswold from before Edward I’s reign. John would appear to have come into his inheritance as the elder of Sir John Neville’s two sons by November 1381, when he gave formal notice to Sir Edward Dallingridge* and Elizabeth his wife that he had ceased to pursue in the court of common pleas his tenuous claim to the manor of Carlton Curlieu, Leicestershire, and to other holdings in Rutland. At the same time he was also engaged in litigation with Sir Robert Swillington over property in Somerby, their dispute perhaps being exacerbated by Swillington’s control over the part of the manor of Prestwold which Neville’s brother, Henry, was shortly to obtain by marriage. However, in this matter, too, he was obliged to give up his suit.1
Neville had already begun his career as a professional soldier; in the spring of 1378, together with his brother, he had gone overseas in the retinue of Ralph, Lord Basset of Drayton. This experience of military service may have proved useful three years later for the enforcement of order in Leicestershire in the aftermath of the Peasants’ Revolt. In November 1382, during his first Parliament, he stood surety at the Exchequer for Sir Thomas Birmingham, one of the shire knights for Warwickshire. That he was not to be elected to the Commons again for nearly 20 years may be attributed in part at least to further martial activities, such as the invasion of Scotland, which kept him away from home in Lord Roos’s company throughout the summer of 1385. Following his return he appears to have had a violent disagreement with Walter Scarle* of Uppingham; in May 1386 he was bound in sureties of £300 to do his adversary no harm in future. On the other hand, he and his brother were evidently on good terms with such members of the Leicestershire gentry as Sir Thomas Walsh* and the Boyvilles of Stockerston: in February 1388 Sir John provided securities at the Exchequer for Walsh’s custodianship of the Boyville estates, and from 1394 both Nevilles joined him as co-feoffees of Sir Thomas Boyville’s inheritance.2
It seems likely that it was this same Sir John Neville who served Richard, earl of Arundel, as constable of his stronghold at Holt-on-Dee, and was kept on there after Arundel’s arrest in July 1397 under the terms of a contract made with William le Scrope, vice-chamberlain of the King’s household, until replaced by Sir William Bagot* just after the earl’s execution. Yet an attachment to the Fitzalans, if such there was, did not lead to immediate royal preferment following Henry IV’s accession to the throne; nor was it until 1401 that Neville was returned to Parliament again, significantly enough while his brother, Sir Henry, now one of the ‘King’s knights’, was sheriff of Leicestershire and thus responsible for holding the election. Both brothers were among those summoned from their native county to attend the great council held later that year. Little is known of Sir John’s activities during the early attempts of the royal forces to pacify Wales, although in all likelihood he fought at the battle of Shrewsbury on 21 July 1403, for five days earlier he had been commissioned to raise a troop of Leicestershire gentry and hasten to the King’s side to resist the army advancing under ‘Hotspur’. In the following summer he and Sir Henry joined the garrison of Carmarthen to serve for a year as captains under the overall command of Edward, duke of York, the King’s lieutenant of South Wales. But although a sum in payment of wages for the permanent force of 140 men had been guaranteed on the yield of subsidies levied in Somerset by grant of the Parliament of January 1404, and York himself had personally undertaken that the garrison would be well paid, the Nevilles’ accounts rendered at the end of their captaincy showed that just over £943 was owed to them. They petitioned the Parliament of 1406, to which they had been elected together as Members for Leicestershire, claiming they had received ‘not a penny’ of the subsidies granted earlier; and the support which their fellows in the Commons gave them prompted the issue of a warrant on 12 Dec. instructing the Exchequer to make immediate payment or assignment of the full amount due.3
In the meantime, the Nevilles had encountered difficulties concerning their trusteeship of the Boyville estates, for following Sir Thomas Boyville’s death in 1404 the royal escheator had seized one of his manors, which had then been granted in custody to Sir Richard Stanhope*; it was only after a hearing in Chancery that the property was restored to them and their co-feoffees. While attending the Parliament of 1406 both Neville brothers acted as mainpernors for a man from Huntingdonshire required to keep the peace at the suit of John Waweton*. Thereafter little is heard of Sir John, although he did witness a deed in 1415 whereby Sir Thomas Chaworth* completed a settlement of estates in six counties, and he is recorded as still alive at Easter 1419.4 It would seem that he never married or in any case died childless, for his heirs were the descendants of his brother.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. J. Nichols, Leics. iii. 501; Leics. Village Notes ed. Farnham, ii. 11; iv. 113; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 223-4.
- 2. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiv. 223; CFR, ix. 330; x. 279; CCR, 1385-9, p. 144; Belvoir Castle, acct. roll 918; CPR, 1401-5, p. 499.
- 3. CIMisc. vi. 229; E364/32 m. B, 40 m. D; PPC, i. 159, 162; RP, iii. 565 (wrongly ascribed to the Parliament of Oct. 1404); J. H. Wylie, Hen. IV, i. 457; SC8/23/1110; E404/22/246; R.A. Griffiths, Principality of Wales, i. 200.
- 4. CCR, 1402-5, pp. 396, 437; 1405-9, p. 127; 1413-19, p. 271; CPR, 1401-5, p. 499; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xvii. 39.