Monument to Ralph Neville, 1st Earl Westmoreland and his wives
Westmoreland was one of the historic counties of England. It is the southern half of Cumbria. Windermere, Ullswater and Helvellyn were in Westmoreland. Its county town was Appleby. It was bordered by Cumberland in the north, County Durham and Yorkshire in the east, and Lancashire in the south and west. Its location on the border, or the northern marches, made it especially important in protecting England from its northern neighbour Scotland.
Ralph Neville was born around 1364, the son of John Neville, 3rd Baron Raby, and Maud Percy, daughter of Henry Percy, Baron of Alnwick. His provenance reflecting the close, if not always friendly, bond between the Nevilles and the Percys as protectors of the northern march.
Ralph Neville was created 1st Earl of Westmoreland 29 Sep 1397 by King Richard II as a result of his support for King Richard II against the Lords Appellant.
Ralph's loyalty to King Richard II waned following his second marriage to Joan Beaufort, youngest daughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford. When Joan's half-brother, the future King Henry (Bolingbroke) IV, returned from exile Ralph Neville openly supported him. Ralph was one of those present at the Tower of London to receive King Richard II's abdication after 01 Sep 1399. He was subsequently appointed Earl Marshall for life on 30 Sep 1399. Ralph carried the small sceptre known as the "virge" at Henry Bolingbroke's coronation on 13 Oct 1399.
Ralph's greatest contribution to history is, perhaps, his twenty children by Margaret Stafford (eight) and Joan Beaufort (twelve). His descendents include Edward IV, Richard III, Henry VIII and Richard Neville "The Kingmaker". His monument at Staindrop Church is unusual in having both wives represented although their remains are elsewhere.
Ref: Staindrop.St_Marys_Church.Ralph Neville (01 Earl Westmoreland).20161218-140613.jpg
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