Cecily was born on May 3, 1415. She would be known as the “Rose of Raby” due to her beauty and because she was born in the Neville stronghold of Raby Castle. She was the eighteenth child of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland and the tenth child by his second wife Joan Beaufort. Joan was the legitimized daughter of the union between John of Gaunt, a son of King Edward III, by his third wife, Katherine Swynford.Share
Cecily was given the standard education for a noble lady of the time. She would have learned accounts and how to read and how to run a medieval household. In August of 1422, the Lancastrian King Henry V died. With his death, the wardships in royal hands came under reassessment and Ralph Neville purchased the guardianship of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York for three thousand marks. Richard came to live at Raby Castle in 1423. In 1424, Cecily and Richard were betrothed. Cecily was nine and Richard was thirteen. Richard was also a descendant of King Edward III and had a claim to the throne of England that was marginally better than that of the new king, Henry VI.
In October, 1425, Cecily’s father died. Her mother inherited a great deal, including the wardship of Richard. All three of them moved to London to the court of Henry VI. No record exists for the exact date and location of Cecily’s marriage but she was definitely wed by October of 1429. She most likely attended the coronation of Henry VI with her husband in November of that same year. Richard went to France with the king in 1430.
By 1432, Richard had gained complete control of his full inheritance and the couple could now form their own household and act independently. They had many castles to choose from as their personal home but Fotheringhay was their favorite and became their principal residence. Construction was begun near the castle on St. Mary the Virgin and All Saints Church along with a college to pray for the family. Cecily would have full control of managing her households, performing acts of piety and attending court when required with her husband. She would have received petitions on her husband’s behalf and there is some record of her being active in legal affairs. (Read more.)