NEVILLE or NEVILL, the family name of a famous English noble house, descended from Dolfin son of Uchtred, who had a grant from the prior of Durham in 1131 of "Staindropshire," co. Durham, a territory which remained in the hands of his descendants for over four centuries, and in which stood Raby castle, their chief seat. His grandson, Robert, son of Meldred, married the heiress of Geoffrey de Neville (d. 1192-1193), who inherited from her mother the Bulmer lordship of Brancepeth near Durham. Henceforth Brancepeth castle became the other seat of the house, of which the bull's head crest commemorates the Bulmers; but it adopted the Norman surname of Neville (Neuville). Robert's grandson, another Robert (d. 1282), held high position in Northumbria, and sided with Henry III. in the Barons' War, as did his younger brother Geoffrey (d. 1285), ancestor of the Nevills of Hornby. This Robert's son Robert (d. 1271) extended the possessions of the family into Yorkshire by his marriage with the heiress of Middleham. The summons of their son Ranulf (d. 1331) to parliament as a baron (1294) did but recognize the position of the Nevills as mighty in the north country. Ralph (d. 1367) the second baron—whose elder brother "the Peacock of the North" was slain by the Douglas in 5318— was employed by Edward III. as a commander against the Scots and had a leading part in the victory of Nevill's Cross (1346), where David Bruce was captured, and by which Durham was saved. His active career as head of his house (1331-1367) made the name of Nevill a power on the Scottish march. Of his younger sons, Alexander became archbishop of York (1374-1388) and was a supporter of Richard II., attending him closely and en couraging his absolutist policy; he was one of those "appealed of treason" by the opposition in 1388, and was outlawed. He dieu abroad in 1392. His younger brother William, a naval was a leading Lollard and a friend of Wiclif, and in acted with the lords appellant.
John, the 3rd baron (d. 1388), a warden of the Scottish marches and lieutenant of Aquitaine, a follower of John of Gaunt and a famous soldier in the French wars of Edward III., continued the policy of strengthening the family's position by marriage ; his sisters and daughters became the wives of great northern lords; his first wife was a Percy, and his second Lord Latimer's heiress; and his younger son, Thomas, became Lord Furnival in right of his wife, while his son by his second wife became Lord Latimer. His eldest son Ralph (1364-1425), 1st earl of Westmorland (see WESTMORLAND, EARLS OF) , married as his second wife a daughter of John of Gaunt and secured heiresses for five of his sons, four of the younger ones becoming peers, while a fifth, Robert, was made bishop of Durham (1438-1457). Among his daughters were
the duchesses of Norfolk, Buckingham and York (mother of Edward IV. and Richard III.) and an abbess of Barking. The Nevills were thus closely connected with the houses of Lancaster and York, and had themselves become the most important family in the realm. Of the earl's sons by his second marriage, Richard, earl of Salisbury (and three of his sons) and William, earl of Kent, are the subjects of separate notices.
The greatness of the Nevills centred in the "kingmaker" (Rich ard's son) and the heads of his house, after the 1st earl, were of small account in history, till Charles, the 6th earl, at the insti gation of his wife, Surrey's daughter, joined Northumberland in the fatal northern rising of 1569 to the ruin of his house. His estates, with the noble castles of Brancepeth and Raby, were forfeited; Middleham, with the Yorkshire lands, had been settled by the 1st earl on the heirs of his second marriage.
Although the senior line became extinct on the earl's death abroad (I601), there were male descendants of the 1st earl remaining, sprung from George and Edward, sons of his second marriage. George, who was Lord Latimer, was father of Sir Henry, slain at Edgcote fight, and grandfather of Richard, 2nd lord (I469-153o), a soldier who distinguished himself in the north, especially at Flodden Field. His grandson (d. 1577) was the last lord, but there were male descendants of his younger sons, one of whom, Edmund, claimed the barony, and after 1601 the earldom of Westmorland, but vainly, owing to its attainder.
The heirs male of Edward, Lord "Bergavenny" (now "Aber gavenny" co. Monmouth), who died in 1476, have retained their place in the peerage under that style to the present day. In 1784 the then Lord Abergavenny received an earldom, and the next lord erected at Eridge, Sussex, the present seat of the family, on which the marquisate of Abergavenny and earldom of Lewes were conferred in 1876. Its Sussex estates are derived through the Beauchamps, from the Fitz Alans, heirs of the Warennes.
See Rowland's Historical and Genealogical Account of the Family of Nevill (1830) ; Drummond's Noble British Families (1846) ; Swallow's De Nova Villa (1885) ; and Barron's sketch in The Ancestor, No. 6 (19o3). Also Dugdale's Baronage; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peer age; J. H. Round's Feudal England; and for the Nevill castles Mac kenzie's Castles of England. For the Kingmaker, see Oman's monograph (1861).