Sola proba quae honesta - these things alone are honourable
The Neve family came from France about the period of the Conquest. Tradition gives the first of the name in England as Sir Richard Le Neve. The name is derived from the French Le Neveu, and is variously spelled as Le Neve, Neve, and Neave. The earliest record is a small deed dated about 1100, still in existence, by which two oxgangs of land in Ancaster, county York, were granted to Robert Neve by William de Malebisse on payment of a pound of pepper at Christmas annually. At a later date -- 1229 -- is attached a general release from Joseus de Frem, a Jew of York, to Henry Neve, a descendent of Robert Neve.
The family were well settled in Norfolk in the early part of the reign of Edward 1st, and they continued there until the reign of Charles II when they became somewhat impoverished and scattered.
It is difficult to say when the family first appeared in Kent but Robert Le Neve owned the manor of Woldham Hall alias Benlys Court in Woldham, and held it as one quarter of a Knight's fee. His heirs sold it to John atta Celar or Selere in 1350.
In the reign of Elizabeth the name appears well distributed in many parishes in East Kent : the wills of John Neve of Barham-1469 and Thomas Neve of Gravenye-1569 are at Canterbury. In 1603 Robert, son of Sir Thomas Cotton of Oxenheath in Kent, married Eleanor Neve and the wills of John Neve-1590 and Thomas Neve-1591 of Kent are at Somerset House.
It was many and many a year ago
In the year twelve hundred and three,
There dwelt a knight in the land of France
In the county of Picardie.
And the poor called blessing on his head
For tender of heart was he,
And for none other such praises rung
In all the faire countrie.
Now all good men it is their fate
Envy and dread to raise;
And there was one whose jealous heart
Angered to hear his praise.
Henri of Artois (Duke was he
Of the Royal blood of France)
A vow he made that come what would
This knight should feel his lance.
Now the banner of the cross was raised
In the fair summer time,
And all true knights who loved their soul
Went forth to Palestine.
So the knight of Picardie went forth
And the Duke of Artois as well,
To fights for the Sepulchre of their Lord
In the hands of the Infidel.
Of the noble men and the deeds they did,
My tale won't let me say;
But the Duke and the Knight met all alone
At the end of a battle day.
Now cried the Duke, "Be on your guard
For one of us must die;
" And the blows fell thick on their armour bright
They fought so lustily.
At last the Knight struck such a blow
It brought him to his knees,
"Strike, Sir Knight," now called the Duke,
"For you've won such a victory."
"No, Lord Duke, I give you your life,
It shall never be said of me
That I killed a man when I had him down,
Though my deadly enemy."
"Not enemies now, O peerless Knight,
For now I know full well
That none more noble or true than thou
In Picardie doth dwell."
"Thy shield hath our Crusader's Cross
And now to thee I give
Five snow white lilies off my shield
As pure as the name, Le Neve."
"And for thy crest I bid thee wear
What thou hast fairly won,
A golden lily, seeded and stalked
Thrust through my Ducal crown.
Sola proba quae honesta :
That shall thy motto be,
That all posterity shall know
Noblesse oblige : Honesty."