NEVILLE, Richard (1655-1717), of Billingbear, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. 12 Oct. 1655, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Richard Neville† of Billingbear by Anne, da. of Sir John Heydon of Baconthorpe, Norf. educ. M. Temple 1673. m. Catherine, da. of Ralph Grey, 2nd Baron Grey of Warke, 2s. 1da. suc. fa. 1676.1
Neville came from a family ‘of sound Puritan stock’, who ‘retained the godly enthusiasm of their forebears’. In keeping with his family’s political affiliations, Neville, who was a brother-in-law of the similar-minded Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt.*, ‘manifested a . . . zeal for Country Whig principles and a disposition to apply the precepts of classical republicanism to issues of contemporary politics’. Such sentiments were demonstrated as early as 1685, when Neville and his brother-in-law, Hon. Ralph Grey*, put up £5,000 each as security for the latter’s brother and Neville’s other brother-in-law, Ford, Lord Grey, one of the conspirators implicated in the Rye House Plot. Ten years later they obtained jointly a crown lease of the lighthouses of Wintertonness and Orfordness, one of the grants investigated by the Commons in January 1703. This grant, held by Neville alone after Grey’s death in 1706, was worth £2,000 p.a.2
Neville first stood for Parliament in 1690, though he was narrowly defeated in a contested election for Berkshire. However, in 1695 one of the outgoing MPs for the county chose not to stand at the election, and Neville was returned unopposed on that occasion. He was forecast as likely to support the Court on 31 Jan. 1696 in the division over the proposed council of trade, and signed the Association promptly. In March he voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s., while in the following session he voted on 25 Nov. for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. On 26 Feb. 1697 Neville was granted leave of absence for eight days. Returned unopposed in the 1698 election, he was classed as a placeman and a Court supporter in two analyses of the new Parliament, though the latter classification was queried in a subsequent list. On 18 Jan. 1699 he voted against the third reading of the disbanding bill. During this session Neville was one of only two MPs who attended a meeting organized by Cocks, in order to discuss how to proceed in the matter of bringing in a bill for disabling Sir John Trevor* from ‘executing any place of profit or trust’. In an analysis of the House into ‘interests’ in 1700 Neville was classed as an adherent of his brother-in-law, Lord Tankerville (the former Lord Grey), who was a Treasury lord and one of the lords justices during William’s absence from England in that year.3
Despite rumours of some dissatisfaction among the local Berkshire gentry in relation to Neville, he was returned unopposed for the county in the first 1701 election. In February he was included on a list of MPs likely to support the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’. Following his re-election for Berkshire in the second 1701 election, he was classed as a Whig by Robert Harley*. Returned in a contested election in 1702, he voted on 13 Feb. 1703 for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. At the beginning of the 1704–5 session he was noted as a probable opponent of the Tack, and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704.4
Neville was returned in a contested election for Berkshire in 1705, but his parliamentary activity in the following years is difficult to distinguish from that of his son, Grey, who was first elected to Parliament in that year. Neville voted on 25 Oct. for the Court candidate as Speaker, and on 18 Feb. 1706 supported the Court in the proceedings on the ‘place clause’ in the regency bill. In the 1707–8 session he was one of the Country Whigs who, in February 1708, voted against the Court on the deficiencies in the forces at the battle of Almanza.5
Classed as a Whig in two analyses of Parliament before and after the 1708 election, Neville was re-elected for Berkshire in that year. However, the confusion with his son continues owing to the latter’s success at Wallingford. One of them acted as a teller twice in December 1708 over the Reading election, and on the 15th presented the Kennet navigation bill. Again a ‘Mr Neville’ was a teller on 20 Jan. 1709 for the motion that William Hucks* was duly elected for Abingdon, and on 12 Feb. in favour of recommitting the supply resolutions. In February it was the elder Neville who made a ‘fine speech’ in favour of the bill for the naturalization of the Palatines, and who on 8 Mar. featured as one of the Whigs who were reported to have sided with the Tories in the case of Thomas Meredyth’s election at Midhurst. This latter action may account for a report at the time that Neville was one of a number of Whigs who on occasion joined with the Tories in order to ‘make attacks now and then upon the ministry’. In the 1709–10 session, on 18 Jan. 1710, one of the Nevilles again presented a bill for navigation of the Kennet, and on 4 Feb. told against a motion that the House should be present at the trial of Dr Sacheverell as a committee of the whole. Neville himself voted for the impeachment of Sacheverell. Defeated in the county election in 1710, he did not stand for Parliament again. His death on 1 July 1717 inspired a poem to his memory, referring to his activities in Parliament in support of the Protestant succession and against popery, and declaring that he was ‘unmoved by faction’ and had left the Court when virtue was ‘banished’ from it.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath
- 1. The Gen. vi. 66.
- 2. Cocks Diary, pp. xvii, xix; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 222; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 465; x. 1261; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 58(7), p. 273.
- 3. BL, Trumbull Misc. mss 29, Neville to Sir William Trumbull*, 18 Sept. 1695; HMC Downshire, i. 413, 516, 553, 556, 559, 562; Cocks Diary, 8.
- 4. Trumbull Add. mss 131, Rev. John Power to Trumbull, 7, 13 Jan. 1700–1.
- 5. Holmes, 141, 143.
- 6. Addison Letters, 94; Boyer, Anne Annals, vii. 290; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/0139/2, James Brydges* to James Stanhope*, 17 Mar. 1709; Stowe mss 57(2), p. 178; SRO, Ogilvy of Inverquharity mss, GD205/34/4, John Pringle* to William Bennett*, 1 Mar. 1709; Berks. RO, Braybrooke mss D/EN/F47/2, a poem in memory of Neville, [c.1717].