Sir William Neville

The 'Good Knight'

There is no obvious explanation or qualification offered for the Woodford Cartulary's description of William Neville, Mabel Neville's father as the `good knight' of Rolleston.

However, a William Neville is listed as one of the ten knights who had followed the teachings of John Wycliffe and who were therefore later described as being guilty of heresy.  Sir Thomas Latimer is also named as one of the ten, and the only one for whose lollardy there is written evidence.  He was brought before the king's council in 1388 charged with possessing books of an heretical nature.  Later, Latimer's manor of Braybrooke in Northamptonshire became known as a centre for Lollard teaching and possibly a safe haven for those of a similar mind.

Sir William was a descendant of Henry Neville, chamberlain to Henry II, and a member of one of the oldest families in England.  Over the years his ancestors acquired the manors of Holt (Leicestershire), Pickhill and Rolleston; and although he himself never obtained possession of the extensive property in Cornwall and the Scilly Isles which was settled upon him in reversion in 1377 as the son and heir of Cecily Blankminster, his grandson did eventually make good the title.  According to his own testimony, he was born about 1338, yet it was not until he had reached the comparatively late age of 33 that his military career first began.

The Nevilles and the Latimers were related.  Perhaps the Woodford family at that time held similar theological views so William was regarded by them as a good or `godly' man.

In 1355, an award made as arbitration in a dispute involving the Latimer family over ownership of Braybrooke cites two chaplains, one of whom is named as John de Woodford.