NEVILLE, Hon. Richard (1783-1858), of Billingbear, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

6 Feb. 1805 - 1806
19 Feb. 1807 - 1807
1807 - 1812
1812 - 28 Feb. 1825

Family and Education

b. 26 Sept. 1783, 1st s. of Richard Aldworth Neville† (afterwards Griffin), 2nd Bar. Braybrooke, and Catherine, da. of George Grenville† of Wotton, Bucks. educ. Sunbury 1791; Eton 1796; Christ Church, Oxf. 1801 (MA Magdalene, Camb. 1811). m. 13 May 1819, Lady Jane Cornwallis, da. and coh. of Charles Cornwallis†, 2nd Mq. Cornwallis, 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. as 3rd Bar. Braybrooke 28 Feb. 1825 and took name of Griffin as owner of Audley End, Essex in compliance with will of distant cos. John Griffin Griffin†, 1st Bar. Braybrooke (d. 1797). d. 13 Mar. 1858.

Offices Held

Recorder, Saffron Walden; high steward, Wokingham.

Capt. Berks. militia 1803.

Pres. Camden Soc. 1853-d.

Biography

Neville, ‘a very gentlemanlike, good kind of man’,1 was a nephew of Lord Grenville and first cousin of the odious 2nd marquess (later 1st duke) of Buckingham, from whose political line he had steadily diverged since 1812. When he stood again for Berkshire at the general election of 1820 he ‘authorized’ local newspapers to contradict a report that he was disinclined to support the recently circulated petition of county agriculturists for relief from distress by means of enhanced protection. For the third successive election he and his Whig colleague Charles Dundas were taken to a poll by a radical reformer, but his seat was never in danger.2 Buckingham and his small squad of Members coalesced with the Liverpool ministry in December 1821 but Neville, a member of Brooks’s since 1817, continued to act with the Whig opposition, though he was, as previously, a very lax attender.

He voted against government on the civil list, 5 May, and the appointment of an additional Scottish baron of exchequer, 15 May 1820. Next day he presented and declared his support for Berkshire petitions for inquiry into agricultural distress.3 He was given ten days’ leave, 30 June 1820. He did not attend or send an excuse to the Berkshire county meeting in support of Queen Caroline, 8 Jan.,4 but he voted in censure of ministers’ conduct towards her, 6 Feb. 1821. He voted for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He divided with opposition on the state of the revenue, 6 Mar., army reductions, 14 Mar., and repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., for which he paired, 3 Apr. He took another period of leave, 30 Apr., but he attended to vote for economy and retrenchment, 27 June 1821. He voted for more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 5, 11 Feb., relaxation of the salt duties, 28 Feb., admiralty economies, 1 Mar., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., 2 May 1822. However, he joined the largely ministerial majority against inquiry into the board of control, an attack on his Grenvillite kinsmen, 14 Mar.5 He voted for inquiry into diplomatic expenditure, 15 May, but the following day divided with ministers against a specific attack on the recent appointment of Buckingham’s (and his) cousin Henry Williams Wynn† as envoy to Switzerland. Buckingham commented:

Neville, by voting for the first question which included the second, a little did away the merit attending his second vote. But we must not look too closely. It will not however pave the way for his brother’s mitre.6

(His brother George, master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, rose no higher in the church than dean of Windsor.) Neville did not attend the Berkshire county meeting called to support parliamentary reform as a remedy for distress, 27 Jan. 1823, explaining by open letter that he was 150 miles away; but he supported the prayer of the petition when Dundas presented it, 27 Feb.7 His last known votes were for parliamentary reform, 24 Apr., 2 June 1823. He was granted two weeks’ sick leave, 17 Feb. 1825, but his father’s death removed him from the Commons before its expiry.

As a peer he took up residence at Audley End, which he considerably improved. He supported Catholic emancipation and reform, but from 1834 sided with the Conservatives. He had keen historical and literary interests and was president of the Camden Society from 1853 until his death. His amateurish and bowdlerized edition of Pepys’ Diary (the manuscript of which had been in the care of Magdalene since 1724, and had been laboriously deciphered and transcribed by John Smith, an impoverished sizar of St. John’s) was published in 1825. Braybrooke produced slightly improved editions in 1848-9 and 1854, but he omitted from them his earlier lukewarm acknowledgement of Smith’s contribution. He wrote a History of Audley End (1836) and edited the Private Correspondence of Lady Jane Cornwallis (1842) and the Autobiography of Sir John Bramston (1845).8 Three weeks before his marriage in 1819 his aunt Lady Williams Wynn had written to her son:

You will find Neville, with his ‘young ideas on love-making’ still only beginning to shoot. He takes the thing as yet very quietly, makes a morning call on his love, eats his dinner at his father’s ... and hops across at ten o’clock for the close of the day ... Neville says that to talk of the smallest pretensions to beauty in his bride would be absurd, but that she is fresh and clean-looking ‘Which is enough for him’. I fancy he has expressed so generally among his own set, his unfavourable opinion on her appearance, that it is much best to profess at once entirely to abandon that ground, and rest on the interior.9

Fifteen years later Lord Lyttelton visited Audley End:

Lord and Lady Braybrooke received us most cordially, and the evening passed very agreeably in that very magnificent huge old mansion ... The conversation throve unceasingly. Lady Braybrooke ne tait pas and ... [he], rather a shy man in mixed company, was wondrous agreeable and flowing too in talk, and they both did the honours of their house in the simplest and heartiest way imaginable.10

In the last four years of his life he lost 14 near relations, including his wife and two sons who were killed within a week of each other in the Crimea. He died in March 1858 and was succeeded in the peerage by his sons Richard Cornwallis Griffin (1820-61) and Charles Cornwallis Griffin (1823-1902).

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher

Notes

  • 1. Salop RO, Weld-Forester mss 337, Sir W. Williams Wynn to Forester, 10 June 1822.
  • 2. Reading Mercury, 7, 21, 28 Feb., 7, 14, 21 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. The Times, 17 May 1820.
  • 4. Ibid. 9 Jan. 1821.
  • 5. NLW, Coedymaen mss 629.
  • 6. NLW ms 2794 D, Sir W. to H. Williams Wynn [15 May 1822]; Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, i. 325, 328-9; Bucks. RO, Fremantle mss, Buckingham to Fremantle, 19 May 1822.
  • 7. Reading Mercury, 3 Feb.; The Times, 28 Feb. 1823.