Charles NEVILLE

(6th E. Westmoreland)

Born: 18 Aug 1542 / 28 Aug 1543

Died: 16 Nov 1601, Nieuwpoort, Flanders

Father: Henry NEVILLE (5 E. Westmoreland)

Mother: Anne MANNERS

Married: Jane HOWARD (C. Westmoreland) ABT 1563

Children:

1. Margaret NEVILLE

2. Anne NEVILLE

3. Thomas NEVILLE WESTMORELAND

4. Catherine NEVILLE

5. Eleanor NEVILLE


Son of Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmoreland, by his first wife, Lady Anne Manners, second daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Rutland. He was born in 1543, and was brought up in all probability as a Roman catholic at Raby Castle, Durham, the family seat. In Aug 1563 Charles succeeded as sixth Earl of Westmorland on the death of his father. He did not, however, take his seat in the House of Lords till 30 Sep 1566. His marriage with Jane, dau. of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and sister of Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk definitely connected him with the old catholic party, but he was loyal in 1565, when Francis Russell, Earl of Bedford, met him at Morpeth.

In Mar 1569 he was on the council for the north, and was made a commissioner for musters. He was doubtless fired to rebellion by the advice of his numerous catholic relatives, especially uncles George and Christopher Neville, and by that of many family friends in the north. His attitude became known in the autumn of 1569. In Sep he was required to meet the Earl of Sussex at York. He and the Earl of Northumberland declined (4 Nov) to go. The government, finding that the two earls had been in correspondence with the Spanish Ambassador, ordered them to come to London, and their refusal to obey was the formal signal of rebellion.

The leaders were solemnly proclaimed traitors at Windsor on 26 Nov, and on the 30th the retreating army broke up. Westmorland went to Barnard Castle, which was held by Sir George Bowes, who had to capitulate owing to the treachery of the garrison. Thence he led his men to Raby, which is only a few miles distant. At the approach of the main royal army from the south Westmorland fled, with Northumberland.

Lord Westmoreland found protection and concealment for a long time at Fernyhurst Castle, Lord Kerr's house in Rosburghshire, but meanwhile the Earl's cousin Robert Constable, a servant of the Earl of Leicester and rather shady character, was hired by Sir Ralph Sadler to endeavour to track the unfortunate nobleman, and, under the guise of friendship, to  betray him. Constable's correspondence appears among the Sadler State Papers - an infamous memorial of treachery and baseness.

Westmoreland wept for his hard condition, asked Constable to give the Countess a ring as a token, apologizing for the grief he had caused her and their children. He hoped that the Countess might send his "fairest gelding" and one of her best jewels to the Lord and Lady of Fernyhurst as compensation for the hospitality they had extended and also dispatch the ciphers once in his keeping.

After checking first with Sadler, Constable ventured off to Brancepeth to deliver his messages. Gaining an audience with the Countess on the evening of 14 Feb, Constable found her "passing joyful" to receive word from her husband. Obviously impressed by her, Constable reported that "for ripeness of wit, readiness of memory, and plain and pithy utterance of her words, I have talked with many, but never with her like". She sent with him a diamond ring and several other pieces of jewelry for her husband and his hosts. The ciphers, however, had been buried by a servant now absent and could not immediately be retrieved. Constable then returned to Scotland, first explaining to Sadler his hope that "a golden hook" might persuade Fernyhurst to betray his guests, especially as he thought the Scot likely to weary at the great expense of hosting such a party and possibly to grow suspicious of the attentions Westmoreland bestowed on the lady of the castle. Failing that, Constable felt sure he could convince the chief rebels to return into England with him to sue for mercy. Once over the border, he could betray them to the warden and have them arrested in such a way that he might escape any appearance of complicity.

In the Summer of 1570, the Earl of Westmoreland, fearing that the same betrayal that happened to the Earl of Northumberland might also happen to him, left Scotland for Flanders. At first he lived at Louvain, and seems to have been provided with money, as he kept twelve or thirteen servants. His pension from the King of Spain was two hundred crowns a month. But his vast inheritance was confiscated, and he suffered the extremity of poverty and would never see his wife, Jane Howard, and their four daughters again. Brencepeth, the stronghold of the Nevilles in war, and Raby, their festive Hall in peace, had passed into strangers' hands, and nothing remained for the exiled Lord. Raby remained crown property till it was bought by Sir Harry Vane about 1645.

Occasional notices of Westmorland, not always to his credit, are found during the next thirty years. In Jan 1572 he was one of the deputation of English exiles who asked aid from Felipe at Brussels in support of the Ridolfi plot. King Felipe, however, or at all events the Duke of Alba, knew the real value of his suggestions, and when in 1573 he urged the landing of a force in Northumberland, Alba remarked that his word was that of a nobleman out of his country. In spile of these transactions Westmorland was continually trying to negotiate for his return to England, but the only result seems to have been unsuccessful plots to kidnap him on the part of the English government in 1575 and 1586. About 1577 he went to live at Maestricht, and is said to have been friendly with Don Juan of Austria, though apparently he had no official relations with him. In 1580 he was colonel of a regiment composed of English refugees in the Spanish service, and in Mar 1581 he went on a pilgrimage to Rome, to get money if possible. He stayed at the English College, and returned with some sort of a commission.

A spy-report sent from Paris to London in Aug 1585 states that Charles Neville, the fugitive earl of Westmoreland, might, as part of a concerted Catholic invasion of England, land in Cumberland or Lancashire, bringing with him the son(s) of Henry Percy, 8 Earl of Northumberland. The historians wonder which son(s) the spy-report refers to, as sources indicate that all sons were in England at the time of their father's suicide/murder.

In 1588, Westmoreland comanded a force of 700 English fugitives in the seaports of Flanders, who with the army of 103 companies of foot and 4000 horse, making together 30,000 men under the Duke of Parma; and besides 12,000 men brought by the Duke of Guise to the coast of Normandy, intended for an attack on the West of England, under cover and protection of the Spanish Armada.

He is said to have lived viciously in later life, and is described in 1583 as 'a person utterly wasted by looseness of life and by God's punishment'. He was at Brussels in 1600, thinking of another marriage, but died, subsisted on a miserable pittance from the King of Spain and deep in debt, at Nieuport on 16 Nov 1601.

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