NEALE, Thomas (1641-99), of Warnford, Hants of Whitehall.
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Family and Education
bap. 3 Oct. 1641, o.s. of Thomas Neale of Warnford by Lucy, da. of Sir William Uvedale† of Wickham, Hants. educ. Clare, Camb. 1656. m. lic. 13 June 1664, Elizabeth (d. 21 Feb. 1683), da. of Sir John Garrard, 2nd Bt., of Lamer Park, Wheathampstead, Herts., wid. of Sir Nicholas Gould†, 1st Bt., of London, 1s. suc. fa. by 1643.1
Commr. for assessment, Hants 1663-79, sheriff 1665-6; freeman, Winchester 1666, Lymington 1667, Portsmouth 1668; j.p. Hants 1668-80, Mdx. 1680-6, Westminster 1680-9, Kent 1680-9, 1692-d.; dep. lt. Hants 1669-80, commr. for recusants 1675.2
Freeman, E.I. Co. 1666; asst. R. Adventurers into Africa 1670-1; commr. for inquiry into the Mint 1677; groom-porter 1678-d.; groom of the bedchamber 1679-85; commr. for the Mint 1684-6, master 1686-d.; dep. gov. Mines Co. 1693; manager of the lottery loan 1694-d.3
Neale’s great-grandfather, auditor of the Exchequer to Queen Elizabeth, acquired the manor of Warnford in 1577. One of the family sat for Grantham in 1593 and 1597. His father died too early to take part in the Civil War, but his mother remarried Thomas Tomkyns, and he was doubtless brought up as a Royalist. In 1664 he married against intense competition a City widow said to be worth £80,000. According to Samuel Pepys, Neale had first
received a box on the ear by her brother (who was there a sentinel, in behalf of some courtier) at the door; but made him draw and wounded him. She called Neale up to her, and sent for a priest, married presently and went to bed. The brother sent to the court and had a sergeant sent for Neale, but Neale sent for him up to be seen in bed, and she owned him for her husband, and so all is past.
Shortly after his marriage he was granted the freedom of the East India Company, and he bought and sold stock until 1673.4
Neale was returned in 1668 at a by-election for Petersfield, ten miles from Warnford, presumably on the residual Uvedale interest. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 60 committees and acted as teller in seven divisions. He favoured the inclusion of brandy in the wine duties bill in 1668 and of coal in the foreign commodities bill of 1671. In the latter year he was also teller for the second reading of the intestacy bill. Ten of his speeches have been recorded. In the debate on Lord Arlington, once his rival for Lady Gould’s hand, on 19 Jan. 1674, he advocated proceeding with the impeachment, although there was clearly no evidence against him. In the spring session of 1675 he was teller for omitting the compulsory reference to the minister of the parish in disputes over hearth-tax, which suggests that he may have been no friend to the persecution of dissenters, and he was appointed to the committee on the bill to prevent the growth of Popery. But a disastrous venture into the brewing industry had brought him to the verge of ruin. Reducing the strength of beer proved so unpopular that he lost, by his own account, £9,000 in a single year. He had already sold his East India stock, and the Hampshire property followed in the next few years. On the eve of the autumn session he approached the Court, suggesting to Danby that he should act in anticipation of a proposal from the Opposition for appropriating revenue to the use of the navy by offering part of the customs for that purpose; this would satisfy the country gentlemen, and leave the King free to use the rest as he pleased. When Parliament met he recommended tabling Danby’s account of the revenue, already given to the Privy Council. He moved that ‘all the money may be employed for the use we give it, on penalty of treason’, and was appointed to the committee for the appropriation bill. His name appeared on the working lists among those to be ‘remembered’, though Sir Richard Wiseman doubted his reliability.5
It seems clear that before the opening of the 1677 session Neale had reached an understanding with Danby, to whom he supplied detailed accounts of the debates. In breach of standing orders he proposed a grant of £600,000 for building warships, including cordage and stores. Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice vile’, while (Sir) John Morton hardly attempted to veil in parliamentary language his suspicions of the reason for Neale’s return to prosperity. His bill for free trade in coal was rejected ‘because Mr Neale has quitted his old friends, and found no new in their stead’. He told the House that, despite his own unfortunate experience the brewing industry could well afford the additional excise, and was appointed to the committees to investigate abuses in the collection of hearth-tax, and to bring in a bill to remove export duties on coal. He was teller against the Lords’ amendments to the warships bill and against their Lord’s day observance bill, but took the chair for the private bill to enable Lady Mary Mordaunt to dispose of her interest in the manor of Bletchingley and returned it to the Upper House on 16 Apr. When it was proposed to present an address for an alliance against France, he inquired whether prescribing ‘leagues offensive and defensive’ did not entrench on the prerogative, but was shouted down by the country party. He was promised the reversion of the mastership of the Mint, and appointed groom-porter, with a salary of £600 p.a. and responsibilities including the oversight of all gambling activities at Court. In A Seasonable Argument he was said to have
turned brewer since he has consumed a rich wife’s fortune and his own estate. He has a promise his son shall marry Moll Davis’s daughter and be made a viscount and maintained if his brew-house fail. Formerly called Golden Neale, now Brazen Groom Porter.
On 6 Feb. 1678 he declared that 90 warships were necessary for maintaining the alliance with Holland and preserving the Spanish Netherlands. In the same month he was appointed to the committees to consider a bill preventing the export of wool and to estimate the yield of a tax on new buildings. He acted as teller against the tax in June, but left no traces on the records of the last session of the Cavalier Parliament, though his name appeared on both lists of the court party.6
Neale was returned for Ludgershall on the Browne interest at both elections of 1679, and marked ‘vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list. His only committee was that to inquire into the abuses and exorbitances of the Post Office in the first Exclusion Parliament, but he voted against the bill. His removal as j.p. for Hampshire in 1680 was for lack of a property qualification, not on account of his politics, as he was immediately appointed to the Middlesex and Westminster commissions. The Levant Company would not accept him as ambassador to the Turk because of his notorious gambling. At the general election of 1681 he was involved in a double return which was still undecided at the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament; but he regained the seat in 1685. In James II’s Parliament he was appointed only to the committee on the bill for the new parish of St. James Piccadilly. During the second session he said in the committee of ways and means:
The pepper that was expended here, paying but 1d. per pound might pay 1d. more, and so yield seven or eight thousand pounds yearly, and that bullion exported to the Indies might bear £5 per cent, and encourage the sending of other goods.
After the King had rejected the address against Roman Catholic officers on 18 Nov., the House sat in ‘a profound silence’ until Neale proposed that they should go into committee on the militia. He succeeded as master of the Mint in 1686, but a lavish display of guineas failed to secure the hand of another heiress, who preferred the Hon. Edward Russell, perhaps on religious grounds.7
In 1688 the royal electoral agents reported that the electors of Ludgershall intended to choose Neale again, adding that he was ‘supposed right, being anxious to please your Majesty’. He obtained a pass to go down to his borough on 4 Dec., but the Browne interest disappeared at the Revolution, and it is not known whether he stood at the general election. He was quick to rally to the new regime, and a lease of the rents of assize at Stockbridge gave him an interest in the borough. He was successful at a by-election in December, though only at the cost of £700. During his four weeks in the Convention, he was appointed only to the committee on the bill to stop proceedings of scandalum magnatumagainst Sir Trevor Williams, John Arnold and John Dutton Colt. He voted with the Court under William II signing the Association in 1696. He published several pamphlets on the coinage and other economic subjects in this period, but is perhaps best known for his spectacular Seven Dials prop