NEVILLE, Sir Henry I (d.1593), of Billingbear, Berks.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
s. of Sir Edward Neville (executed 1539), by Eleanor, da. of Andrew Windsor†, 1st Baron Windsor, wid. of Ralph, 9th Lord Scrope of Upsall. m. (1) c.1551, Winifred, da. of Hugh Loss of Whitchurch, Mdx., ?s.p.; (2) bef. 1561, Elizabeth (d.1573), da. of Sir John Gresham of Titsey, Surr., 4s. inc. Henry and Edward Neville II, 2da.; (3) c. May 1578, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Nicholas Bacon†, wid. of Robert Doyley, s.p.1 Kntd. 1551.
Groom of privy chamber by 1546, gent. by Oct. 1550-?1553; master of the harriers 1552-5; j.p.q. and jt. (with Sir William Fitzwilliam I) ld. lt. Berks from 1559, sheriff 1572-3, custos rot. from c.1584, dep. lt. from c.1587; j.p. Wilts. from c.1574; steward of Mote park in Windsor 1557, of Donnington and bailiff of crown lands in Newbury, Berks. 1562; guardian of Duke of Norfolk in the Tower 1569-70; high steward, Reading 1588, New Windsor 1588.2
Neville’s career was not seriously affected by the attainder of his father. As Henry VIII’s godson he received a £20 annuity, which during the reign of Edward VI was raised to £50, and he continued as an official of the privy chamber until at least 1553. Since he had signed the letters patent for Lady Jane Grey’s succession, he was unlikely to find great favour with Queen Mary: however, he kept his office of master of the harriers for the first part of her reign. The details of his career between 1553 and 1558 are obscure. He was in Padua in August 1554 and was reported to have returned to England by 1556.3
After Elizabeth’s accession almost all the references to him, except for a short period when he was guarding the Duke of Norfolk in the Tower, are concerned with Berkshire. He already owned considerable property there in Billingbear, Waltham St. Lawrence, Culham, Warfield and Wargrave, most of it included in a royal grant of September 1551. Outside Berkshire he was keeper of Addington park, Kent, and owned a number of rectories and tithes in Yorkshire. Presumably he also had property in Wiltshire, as he was a justice of the peace there.4
His position as a leading landowner in Berkshire gained him the county seat on five occasions. It seems unlikely that his candidature was ever seriously challenged: the Star Chamber suit about the 1571 election almost certainly concerned the junior seat. In Parliament he served on committees considering the succession (31 Oct. 1566), uniformity of religion (6 Apr. 1571), treason (12 Apr. 1571), Sabbath observance (27 Nov. 1584), cloth (10 Dec.), the maintenance of the navy (19 Dec.), ecclesiastical livings (19 Dec.), grain (19 Dec., 4 Mar. 1585), Jesuits (18 Feb.), the subsidy (24 Feb.), hats and caps (10 Mar.), a legal procedure (10 Mar.), water bailiffs (12 Mar.), the preservation of woods in Kent (18 Mar.) and London curriers (18 Mar.). He was probably the ‘Mr. Nevell’ to whom a family bill concerning Lord Bergavenny’s lands was committed on 22 Mar. 1563.5
Neville carried out the usual tasks of an Elizabethan local official. The bishops’ letters to the Privy Council in 1564 commended him as an earnest furtherer of religion, and from time to time he was ordered to suppress recusancy in Berkshire or to examine religious fanatics. In August 1581 he arrested some printers of Latin books who had set up a secret press in the lodge at Lady Stonor’s house in the county: for some time after this he was required to prevent her from communicating with Catholic priests. At various times he appears as dealing with witches suspected of making wax figures of the Queen; arranging for grain barges to move down the river to supply London; trying to settle a dispute between clothiers and dyers at Reading; and examining a keeper of Windsor park accused of harbouring a robber. Unlawful hunting in Windsor forest was a recurrent trouble to him. In the town of Windsor he had considerable influence, which he used as a parliamentary patron. In 1563 his brother-in-law John Gresham was elected, and in each Parliament from 1584 to 1593 members of the Neville family were returned for the borough. In 1562 and again in 1586 he was active in raising troops from Berkshire. In general his loyalty and hard work went unrewarded: however, in March 1573 he was granted for his ‘good and faithful service’, a licence to ship cloth overseas.6
About 1586 he became involved in complicated legal issues over non-payment of legacies to several members of his family from the estate of Sir Thomas Gresham. Although the Privy Council intervened, settlement had still not been reached by May 1588. He also had a sharp quarrel with Ambrose Dudley, the Earl of Warwick over the right to cast and sell ordnance.
He died 13 Jan. 1593, and was buried in the church of Waltham St. Lawrence. On the wall of the north chapel there is an elaborate marble monument to him and to his second wife Elizabeth Gresham, with figures of the couple, their eldest daughter Elizabeth and Sir Henry’s mother-in-law, Lady Frances Gresham. His will, made in April 1592, was proved 6 Feb. 1593. Among the property mentioned is ‘my late house or lodging called the Savoy by the Strand in London’. The lord admiral, Charles Howard I, 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham, was to have ‘my falcon hawk with my man Buller who now keepeth her’.7