Born: ABT 1442, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Died: AFT 20 Nov 1506
Father: Richard NEVILLE (1° E. Salisbury)
Mother: Alice MONTAGUE (C. Salisbury)
Married: John De VERE (13° E. Oxford) AFT 1459
1. George De VERE (d. young)
Margaret Neville was the youngest daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury and his wife Alice Montague. She was the sister of Richard, "the king maker", first Earl of Warwick; John, first Marquess of Montague; and George, Archbishop of York. Unlike her sisters, Joan, Countess of Arundel; Cecily Duchess of Warwick and Countess of Worcester; Alice, Baroness Fitzhugh of Ravensworth; Catherine, Baroness Ashby-Zouch, and Eleanor, first wife of Thomas Stanley, first Earl of Derby; would apparently avoid the perilous marriage stakes until she was in her mid 20s. Her husband was loyal Lancastrian John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, who had already done time in the tower for his part in a red rose conspiracy. By the summer of 1469 he had been pardoned by Edward IV and upon his release from the tower, took off with his brother in law Warwick to stir up Robin of Redesdale’s northern rebellion.
The ups and downs of the war of the two roses, between the York and the Lancasters, also affected those of the faithful Oxford. With a victorious Edward IV in charge, Oxford takes refuge in Scotland from where he writes asking for the assistance of his wife Margaret: ‘Also ye shall send me in all haste all the ready money ye can make; and as many of my men as can come well horsed, and that they come in divers parcels’.
Presumably Margaret was still living at the family seat of Castle Hedingham in Essex with her only child George. But by Apr 1472 Margaret was at St Martin’s sanctuary. Her status as the wife of a traitor rendered her vulnerable.
Meanwhile fearless De Vere continued his fight for the Lancastrian cause. Following his eventual surrender in 1474 he spent the next ten years a prisoner at Hammes Castle. For more than fourteen years Margaret lived a life of penury. It was said she relied upon the charity of others and what ‘she could earn by her needle’. King Edward pardoned her but it was not until 1481 that he granted her £100 a year ‘on account of her poverty’.
In 1484 John escaped from his gaolers. He quickly joined Henry Tudor and played a significant role in the contender’s victory. Margaret and her husband were reinstated at Castle Hedingham but sadly their son had died sometime during his father’s imprisonment.
Margaret died in 1506. She was well into her 60s, a respectable age for a woman who had experienced the vicissitudes of the long years of war. She was buried before the altar of the Lady Chapel of Colne Priory in Essex where her husband John joined her seven years later, after marriyng a second wife, Elizabeth Scrope. Originally alabaster effigies of the couple lie side by said, she with her feet on a winged boar, he with his on a stag. These effigies were destroyed in the mid 18th century, but a drawing made in 1653 survives, the only known representation of Margaret.
Friends of Lydiard Park: https://www.friendsoflydiardpark.org.uk/news/blog-post/margaret-neville-countess-of-oxford/
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