Neville Surname Genealogy

Neville surname originates from the French
place-name in Normandy, either Neuville in Calvados or Neville in Seine
Maritime. In each case the name meant
“new town or settlement.” The Neville name
was brought to England by the Norman Conquest.
The spelling in England can be either Neville
or Nevill.

Neville Resources on

Neville Ancestry

England. The story of the Neville family is a strange
one. They reached their peak of power and influence during the
Wars of the Roses in the 15th century when England was in chaos.
After 1485 it was all downhill.

Medieval Times.
The first Neville in England was said to have been Gilbert de Neville,
stewart to William the Conqueror. However, the line from there is
indistinct until we reach Isabel de Neville who married Robert fitz
Melred, a
powerful baron of the north
in 1197. It was their son
Geoffrey who inherited both estates and adopted his mother’s name.

family grew in power and influence during the 13th and 14th century and
its peak with Richard the Kingmaker at the time of the Wars of the
Roses. Because of a succession of
marriages, the Neville family was at
the center of power in the 15th century

After the passing of Richard the Kingmaker
and the defeat of the Yorkists, the Neville influence declined. It received a fatal blow when Charles Neville
the 6th
Earl of Westmoreland, at the instigation of his wife, led an
against Queen Elizabeth and in favor of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1569. Known as the Rising of the North, this
insurrection failed miserably and the Neville estates in the north were
all forfeited. The senior line in fact
became extinct after
the Earl’s death abroad in 1601.

Other early Neville lines were:

  • the
    Nevilles of Hornby may have been related to the Nevilles
    of Raby, but they emerged as their own distinct force in Lancashire by
    the end of the 14th century.
    The main line seems to
    have died out in the next century, although some Nevilles did cross the
    Pennines into Yorkshire.
  • there was also a Nevill line in Essex which flourished in the
    13th and 14th centuries. This line died out somewhat earlier, in

Later History.
Other Neville lines did continue. Edward Nevill, a younger son of
the Westmorelands, was made Baron Bergavenny, the title later becoming
Abergavenny, in 1450. The family home since that time, inherited
from his wife, has been Eridge Park near Rotherfield in East
Sussex. They also held land by the coast at Birling Gap and many
early Nevills were buried at the church there. What survives
today at Eridge Park is a neo-Georgian mansion that was built in the

Today the Nevill surname is mainly a surname of London and the
southeast. Neville also appears there, the Nevilles from Wrotham
in Kent for instance. But this spelling is found more in the


was a Neville family from the 13th century
in county Wexford. Initially important,
these Nevilles took part in Silken Thomas’s rebellion in 1535 and had
lands forfeited. Nothing was heard from
them again.

Richard Nevill from the
Sussex Nevills came to Ireland in the 1640’s and made his home at
Furness in
county Kildare. Arthur Jones, the Surveyor
General, was Richard’s only great grandchild and he assumed the name of
before succeeding his uncle at Furness in 1750.
These Nevills were MP’s for Wexford from 1727 until 1822 when
Arthur’s son
Richard died.

One Neville family dates
back to Mountmellick in Laios around the year 1700.
Neville, a stone mason,
moved to
Tullamore a hundred years later to work on the building of Charleville
castle. The family migrated to America in 1844.

There were also Irish Nevilles from the
Gaelic O’Niadh, meaning “descendant
of Nia or champion.” It
was the name of an old Kerry family. As
Neville it appeared in Kerry and Limerick. There were
many Nevilles in Ballylongford, Kerry who emigrated to America and
Canada in the 1850’s.

Two early John Nevilles in America may or may
not have left descendant trails:

  • the first was brought to Maryland in 1633 as a servant.
    He then became a sea captain and appeared to have led a
    rough-and-tumble life before his death in Charles county, Maryland in
    1664. There was a descendant line traced in
    B. Neville’s 1974 book History of
    One Neville Family: 1612-1972
  • the second was a Rear Admiral in the British Navy who based
    himself in Virginia. He died on his ship
    of yellow fever in the West Indies in 1697 and was buried in Hampton county,
    Virginia. No line from him has been traced.

Two other early Nevilles in Virginia were the
Nevilles of Isle of Wight and Fauquier counties and the Nevilles of Gloucester county.

America had two Neville generals during the
Revolutionary War, John Neville and Joseph Neville, and they were
brothers from Virginia. John’s son Presley Neville wrote a letter
in 1803

in which he stated that his grandfather John had been kidnapped and
brought to Virginia against his will around the year 1679. This
became a planter in Gloucester county and prospered.

Canada. Anthony and Margaet Neville were Loyalists from upstate
New York who departed for Ontario in 1793.

“The Nevilles set off with two cows, an ox team, and a
sleigh on which they piled all the furniture they could hold..
The trek took them six weeks. For eight years the Nevilles lived
in Fredericksburgh before moving to Ernestown near their Switzer

However, the majority of the Neville immigrants to Canada
were Irish. Among the early arrivals were:

  • John Neville who came to Newfoundland in 1805 and married
    Anne Colbert in St. John’s that year
  • Patrick Neville from Wexford who married Catherine Kelly
    at Notre Dame church in Quebec in 1825.
  • John Neville from Limerick who came with his
    family to Bridgeport, Nova Scotia in
  • while Thomas and Catherine Neville from Ballylongford in
    Kerry came to Ontario in 1853.

Mitchell and Clara Neville were Irish immigrants who had
settled in Ernestown, Ontario in the 1830’s. In 1865 their son Anthony Neville
patented a kerosene burner,
called the Neville lamp, that was designed to produce a
smokeless fuel without a chimney.

Neville Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Neville Names

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick was
known as Warwick the Kingmaker during the Wars of the Roses in the 15th
century. He orchestrated the power battle between Yorkist
factions at that time.
Wendell C. Neville was a
highly decorated general of the US Marine Corps in the early 1900’s.
Richard Neville
was an
Australian writer who had a brief moment of fame as the editor of the
counter-culture magazine Oz
in the early 1970’s.
Gary Neville
was a football player for Manchester
United and England and is now a TV football pundit.

Select Nevilles Today

  • 11,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Essex)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 11,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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