This Day in History: 1413-04-04

On 4th April 1413, Sir Robert de Neville died (some sources say) at the age of around ninety, a remarkable age for the time. He was JP for Yorkshire, Sheriff of Yorkshire and Constable of Pontefract Castle sometime before February 1399. His marriage to Margaret de la Pole, daughter of Sir William de la Pole, 4th Earl of Suffolk, (sometime Admiral of England and Baron of the Exchequer), enabled de la Pole to temporarily win his way back into royal favour by connection to one of the north’s leading families. After Neville’s marriage in 1344, he spent long periods overseas fighting with the Black Prince in France (including Crecy 1346, Poitiers 1356), being rewarded with an annuity of 100 marks a year (£79,000 in today’s money) . From 1351, he assumed the arduous responsibility for the post of overseer of the prince’s horses, harness and fodder for his campaigns abroad. He even endured a short period of imprisonment for debt in Newgate gaol. Neville accused one of Richard II’s favourites, Edward, Earl of Rutland and Duke of Aumale, of depriving him of the constableship of Pontefract Castle. He was present at Ravenspur with a sizeable body of men in July 1399 to welcome Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) from exile and provided Henry with an armed bodyguard during the October Parliament. Henry IV sanctioned the marriage of Neville’s granddaughter and heir, Margaret, to his own half-brother, Thomas Beaufort, the youngest of his father’s three sons by Katherine Swynford. On Neville’s death, the majority of his estates descended to Margaret, then Countess of Dorset, but she died childless before April 1424.