This is what is known about Margaret Nevill, illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Warwick:
Her place of birth was somewhere in the north of England.
She was born not after 1450.
She married Richard Huddleston on 12 June 1464 (though Pollard says 1465). I’ve found one genealogy that says she later married Lancelot Threlkeld, but I have yet to confirm this. (Other sources say it was her daughter, Margaret, who married Threlkeld.)
On her marriage, Warwick settled on her lands in Coverdale worth £6 pa.
She served her half sister at court after she became queen.
She had at least one child, a son, John.
Not a great deal to go on!
What this does is leave Margaret as a blank canvas – the perfect vehicle for carrying the story of Anne Nevill. (There is one novel, at least, that purports to tell the story of her life – Isolde Martyn’s The Maiden and the Unicorn – but as it has Margaret meeting her (first?) husband, sir Richard Huddleston, in 1470 while on a secret mission (for her father) to France, I have to admit to slight doubts about its historicity.
I’m assuming there must have been a fair amount of contact between Margaret and her father and sisters. I can’t imagine queen Anne Nevill saying, “Oh, and send for the half sister I’ve never met and offer her this highly prestigious job.”
There are a lot of blanks to fill in and I want to do it sensitively and intelligently… which may well be a first!
Margaret’s mother is not known to us. If Margaret was married at 14, then 1450 is the likely date of her birth. Warwick was 22 in 1450, and by then his marriage to Anne Beauchamp would have been well and truly ‘active’. If Margaret was around 18 in 1464, (and I have no idea how old she was) that would push her birth year back to 1446 and make Warwick around 17, which makes more sense to me. As there are no other recorded illegitimate children for Warwick, and as the Nevills tended to acknowledge their bastards, it is plausible to put Margaret’s existence down to that perennial favourite – youthful indiscretion.
Margaret’s mother is (sadly) unimportant in the great scheme of things. We’ll probably never know who she was, or what was her station in life. Given that her daughter was acknowledged by her father, one suspects she was, at the very least, ‘respectable’. Beyond that we can’t go.
Warwick probably sent money for Margaret’s upkeep and no doubt looked after her in other ways. She may have lived with or close to him from time to time. I think she must have known her half sisters, Isobel and Anne.
Her marriage to Richard Huddleston was a good one for her, and brought her husband closer to Warwick.
My main interest in Margaret focusses on her time in queen Anne Nevill’s household. If all goes to plan, that will be part of the third book. But I don’t want to just produce her, like a rabbit out of a hat, at the last minute. I need to establish her existence, and her place in the family, right from the start.
I have to sift out what’s plausible and what’s likely. If she was known to the family, and spent at least some of her time with them, in what capacity? What was her relationship with the countess of Warwick? With her sisters? Clearly, she was of some value and worth to her father – he negotiated a good marriage for her. £6 per annum, set against the Warwick wealth, was just a drop in the ocean, but it wasn’t exactly chicken feed. (I’ve tried to find a currency comparison site on the web, but the only one I can see goes no further back than 1900 – not a lot of help!)
If Margaret was born c1446 (which is what I think I’ll go with), that makes her just five years older than Isobel and ten years older than Anne. This hardly allows for the concept of ‘growing up together’. Maybe Margaret had some responsibilities in the nursery. The countess, if Robert Rous’s depiction of her is correct, would hardly have banished her husband’s daughter to the cowshed!
So, I’m going to send Margaret off to live with the Warwicks when she’s 9 or 10… and then just sit back for a while to see what happens.
Martin found a currency converter that goes way way back.
In 1460, the Coverdale rents (£6 pa) were worth £2,186.10 in 2005, which in turn, using a different site, works out to be worth £2,492.15 today.
In 1470, the rents were worth £3,003.48, which equates to £3,423.97 today.
The National Archives also gives the equivalent buying power of money. In 1460, £6 could get you:
200 days of a craftsman’s wages; or
42 stone of wool; or
16 quarters of wheat; or
15 cows; or
According to a rootsweb discussion Philippa linked me to (and thanks!), Warwick also gave the young couple manors at Blennerhasset and lands at Penrith.
This discussion also gives two possible names for Margaret’s mother – Tilliol and Moresby.
Will Glover ‘s great guest post on Margaret Huddleston. I thought I had this link here already, but I didn’t!