Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Neville, George (1471?-1535)

NEVILLE, GEORGE, third Baron of Bergavenny (1471?–1535), born about 1471, was eldest son of George, second baron, by his first wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir Hugh Fenne, under-treasurer of England. His grandfather, Edward Neville, first baron Bergavenny [q. v.], and his brothers, Sir Edward Neville (d. 1538) [q. v.] and Sir Thomas Neville [q. v.], are separately noticed. Another brother, Richard, was a knight of Rhodes, and Henry VIII wrote on his behalf to the pope on 22 July 1515 (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ii. i. 737, but cf. iii. ii. 3678). George was made K.B. 5 July 1483, and on 20 Sept. 1492 succeeded his father as third Baron Bergavenny. He was a favourite with Henry VII, fought on his side against the Cornish rebels at Blackheath in 1497, and was made keeper of Southfrith Park, Kent, on 1 Dec. 1499. On 8 May 1500 he was with Henry VII and his wife at Calais. He enjoyed the hereditary office of chief larderer, and exercised it at the coronation of Henry VIII. On his Sussex estates Bergavenny enfranchised, on 27 June 1511, a villein named Andrew Borde or Boorde, who has been wrongly identified with the traveller and physician of the same name [q. v.] (Sussex Arch. Coll. xiii. 242). On 20 Aug. 1512 he was made a commissioner of array for Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, and on 28 Jan. 1513 became warden of the Cinque ports. On 23 April he was nominated K.G. In the expedition into France of 1513 Bergavenny took a prominent part. From June to October he was a captain, or rather general, in the king's army, and landed at Calais on 30 June. He filled the same position from May to August in 1514, and he was rewarded in 1515 by the grant of the keepership of Ashdown Forest. He kept a large number of retainers, and his retinue was surveyed on 17 May 1515 at Canterbury (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ii. i. 471). In 1516 he was in some danger on account of maintenance. On 15 Nov. 1515 he took part in the ceremonial observed at the reception of Wolsey's cardinal's hat. The same year he became a privy councillor, and on 23 July 1518 he, with Lord Cobham, the Bishop of Chichester, and a number of Kentish gentlemen, met Campeggio, the legate, and conducted him to Canterbury. Like his brother, he was involved in the troubles which overtook Buckingham, his father-in-law. He seems to have been really opposed to Buckingham, but his knowledge of the schemes of his party gave a handle to his enemies. He was accordingly kept in prison from about May 1521 until the early part of 1522. He had also to find ample security for his behaviour for a time. He received a pardon for misprision of treason 29 March 1522 (ib. iii. ii. 2140), but, as Chapuys afterwards said (ib. vi. 1164), he left his feathers behind, and he was not thoroughly trusted afterwards (ib. iv. i. 1319). His troubles, perhaps, more than any active steps taken, led Chapuys to count him afterwards (1533) as one of the Pole faction (ib. vi. 1164, vii. 1368).

Bergavenny attended the king at his meeting with Charles V in 1522, and was captain of the army in France in 1523. In the negotiations with France in 1527 he took a formal part, and met Anne de Montmorency on 18 Oct. near Rochester. On 13 July 1530 he signed the well-known letter to Clement VII, asking him to settle the divorce case as soon as possible. Similarly, on 16 May 1532, he was present when the submission of the clergy was presented, and exercised his office of larderer at the coronation of Anne Boleyn. In 1533 he arranged a difference between the Duke of Norfolk and his wife (Bapst, Deux Gentils hommes poétes de la Cour de Henry VIII, p. 204; cf. Green, Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies, ii. 218). In 1534 he was one of the panel of peers summoned to try Lord Dacre; and about this time he seems to have been friendly to Cromwell, and to have looked after his son. He was absent from the feast of the Knights of the Garter owing to illness in May 1535, and wrote to the king, asking that his family might not be too heavily pressed in taking up his inheritance, as he had many daughters to marry, ‘to his importable charges.’ He died on a Monday morning in June 1535; his body was buried at Birling and his heart at Mereworth, both in Kent. Bergavenny married: 1. Lady Joan Fitzalan, second daughter of Thomas, twelfth earl of Arundel, by whom he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married Henry Lord Daubeny. 2. Margaret, daughter of William Brent of Charing, Kent, by whom he left no issue. 3. About June 1519 Mary, third daughter of Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham by whom he had Henry, who succeeded him, and died in 1586; John, who died young; Thomas, who died without issue; and five daughters. 4. Mary Broke, alias Cobham, formerly his mistress. Bergavenny's chief dangers arose from his family connections, but he increased the importance of his house, especially as Henry VIII, on 18 Dec. 1512, gave him, as the representative of the Beauchamp family, the castle and lands of Abergavenny.

[Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, v. 161; Doyle's Official Baronage, i. 4; Rowland's Account of the Family of Nevill; Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, 1509–35; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Metcalfe's Knights, p. 8; Chron. of Calais (Camd. Soc.), p. 312.]

W. A. J. A.