Saturday, February 25, 2012

Marriage and the Nevills - John Nevill and Isobel Ingoldisthorpe

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Due to a surprising number of people finding there way to the Feast by googling Isobel Ingoldisthorpe (and finding nothing but two fleeting references) and also in order to avoid working on chapter 5, I've pushed this post up the list a bit.

There seems to be a fairly widespread consensus of opinion that John Nevill and his wife, Isobel Ingoldisthorpe, were fond of each other. I think this is based on two lone facts: in the thirteen or so years of their marriage they produced seven children, and despite Isobel's second marriage, she was buried with her first husband. That's a fairly reasonable interpretation and one I don't intend to argue with.  However, their marriage was based on practical, financial and political concerns as much as any other at the time amongst the nobility of England. The number of children born to the couple on its own isn't enough to base the argument on. If you factor in John's work and life in the north of England, a sensible conclusion which can be drawn is that, for a lot of that time, Isobel was with him, or living as close as it was safe for her and the children to be. One such place was Seaton Delaval, just north of Newcastle, about a day's ride from Alnwick castle. She wasn't only buried at Bisham but died there. As her second husband, William Norreys, was a local man, she was possibly living there for much of that marriage. I doubt if the decision to bury her with John was his.

At 26 or 27, John Nevill was quite old for a first marriage. I've mentioned before the difficulties the Salisburys seemed to have finding suitable partners for some of their children. After the three oldest children (Joan, Cecily and Richard) married well, the pool seems to have dried up somewhat. Isobel Ingoldisthorpe was the neice of John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester and, at the time of the marriage, a royal ward. Her father was recently deceased, but her mother lived until at least 1485. Isobel was born in Borough Green, Cambridgeshire and was 15 at the time of her first marriage.

John Nevill was required to pay queen Margaret 1,000 pounds in 10 installments for the marriage, subject to any future ruling that deemed payment unnecessary. This was despite Isobel having reached the majority age for women. Far from disapproving of the match, Margaret would have welcomed it as a way of keeping the Nevills loyal to Henry VI. Richard duke of York's marriage to Cecily Nevill was a good example of this practice. At the time, it was the Nevills whose loyalty was unquestioned and the young York who needed to be kept close to the throne. By the time John married, it was the Nevills' loyalty that needed to be secured. Isobel was an heiress of some note and a very suitable bride.  Eight manors were settled on them in jointure.

They were married on 25 April 1457 at Canterbury Cathedral. The Archbishop, Thomas Bourchier, officiated. The venue was probably chosen because John's brother, the earl of Warwick, was due to depart for Calais shortly thereafter with his wife and two young daughters. Who else might have been in attendance I'm not sure, but this would have been the last chance the family had to be together for some years to come. Though Arundel was a good three days' ride away, Joan countess of Arundel may have made the journey to her brother's wedding. Margaret and Katheryn were still living at home with their parents, so they too probably attended. Alianor, married to Thomas Stanley and probably living at Tatton Hall in Cheshire, may not have.

Far from the image of the hardbitten, career northerner and full-time soldier, John was involved in matters of high politics and state from time to time, including a role in an embassy appointed by the king to investigate breaches of the truce with Burgundy.

After Blore Heath, John was taken prisoner, along wth his brother Thomas, and held in Chester Castle. 

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