Gilbert de Nevil - Admiral of the Fleet

Raby Castle
Raby Castle, Durham - Photo © Robert Scarth, April 2006

The Ship List
By Willelmo dapifero filio Osberni sexaginta naves.

Hugone postea comite de Cestria totidem,
Hugone de Mumfort quinquaginta naves et sexaginta milites.
Romo Elemosinario Fescanni postea episcopo Lincoliensi unum navem cum viginti militibus.
Nicholao Abbate de Sancto Audoeno quindecim naves cum centum militibus.
Roberto Comite Augi sexaginta naves.
Fulcone Dauno, quadranginta naves.
Geroldo Dapifero totidem.
Willelmo Comite Deurons octoginta naves.
Rogero de Mumgumeri sexeginta naves.
Rogero de Boumunt sexaginta naves.
Odone Episcopo de Baios centum naves.
Roberto de Morokmer centum et viginti.
Waltero Giffardo triginta cum centum militibus.
                                                         --Sharon Turner

Gilbert de Nevil, the companion in arms of the Conqueror, is styled by some genealogists 'the Duke's Admiral' ; but in the General Survey no mention of any person of the name occurs. Gilbert's grandson, Geoffrey de Nevil, wedded Emma, daughter and heir of Bertram de Bulmer, Lord of Brancepeth, and left a son, Henry, who died, s.p., in 1227, and an only daughter, Isabella, the greatest heiress of her time, who became the wife of Robert Fitz-Maldred, Lord of Raby, the lineal male representative of Uchtred, Earl of Northumberland. Out of gratitude for the large inheritance brought to them by the heiress of Nevill, or in compliance with the fashion of the time to Normanize, the Saxon Lords of Raby thenceforward assumed the appellation of Nevill, and from that period the fortunes of the family rapidly culminated, till they eclipsed, by their more recent splendour, the Saxon honours of the house. From "a Sketch of the Stock of Nevill," by W. E. Surtees, Esq., D.C.L., we extract the following able summary of the most illustrious race on the roll of English genealogy:- "To John Lord Nevlll, who was at different periods warden of the East Marches, Governor of Bamborough, High Admiral of England, Lieutenant of Aquitaine, and Seneschal of Bourdeaux, is to be chiefly attributed the building of the splendid pile of Raby, which in 1379, he had a license to castellate. In 1385, he attended Richard II. on his expedition to Scotland.

The nobility of the north formed the rearward, and Lord Nevill's train consisted of two hundred men-at-arms, and three hundred archers. He died at Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1388, and lies buried in Durham cathedral, where his altar-tomb still remains between the pillars of the south aisle. "His son and successor, Ralph Lord Nevill, was created Earl of "Westmoreland, 17 Richard II. He soon afterwards deserted (together with Henry Percy first Earl of Northumberland) the falling fortunes of Richard, and was one of the principal instruments in placing the House of Lancaster on the throne. The new monarch showered dignities on the family of Nevill. The Earl was invested in the honour of Richmond, and made Earl Marshal: and by his second marriage - that with Joan, daughter of John of Gaunt, 'time-honout'd Lancaster' - became brother-in-law to his sovereign. When the Percys revolted, he adhered faithfully to Henry. On his side he fought at the battle of Shrewsbury; and in a second insurrection in the North, he was the 'well-appointed leader' who, being sent, together with Prince John, with an inferior force against the rebels, dispersed their army, without bloodshed, at Shipton Moor, near York, and delivered up their chiefs, Mowbray and Scrope, Archbishop of York, to Henry and the scaffold. Some say that he effected this by deceiving the simplicity of the aged prelate in agreeing to his proposals; others that he persuaded him to disband his followers, as the only means of appeasing the King and procuring a favourable answer to his petitions. In the next reign he followed Henry V. into France, and shared in the victory of Agincourt.

In the roll of Agincourt the Earl Marshal had in his train five knights, thirty lances, and eighty archers. Of these, the names of some strike familiarly on a northern ear, as Sir Thomas Rokesby, Sir John Hoton, Edmond Rodham, Roger Ratcliffe, John Swinborne, John Wardale, John Wytton.

He died full of years and honours in 1426, and is buried under 'a right stately tomb of alabaster' in the choir of his own collegiate church of Staindrop. The Earl had twenty-one children. From his first bed sprung the Earls of Westmoreland. But none of his descendants in this, the elder line, seem to have inherited his talent or his ambition. - From his second bed arose the princely house of Salisbury, Warwick, and Montague, whose blood mingled with that of Plantagenet, and the Lords Fauconberg, Latimer, and Abergavenny.


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