ALDWORTH, Richard Neville (1717-93), of Stanlake and Billingbear, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. 3 Sept. 1717, o.s. of Richard Aldworth by Catherine, da. of Richard Neville, M.P., of Billingbear. educ. Eton 1728-32; Merton, Oxf. 1736, Grand Tour. m. 1748, Magdalen, da. of Francis Calandrini, first syndic of Geneva, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1738, and on d. of his aunt, Elizabeth, Countess of Portsmouth, to estates of his gd.-fa. Richard Neville of Billingbear 1762, and changed his name to Neville.
Under-sec. of state 1748-51; sec. to embassy at Paris Sept. 1762-May 1763; minister plenipotentiary, Paris, May-Nov. 1763; paymaster of pensions May 1763-July 1765.
Aldworth came of an old-established Berkshire family, and for most of his political life was a follower of the Duke of Bedford.
In June 1752 Aldworth informed Bedford that he expected an opposition at Reading at the next general election, which would involve him in an expense he could not afford.1 In December Lord Fane, another of Bedford’s followers, was unexpectedly applied to by ‘the most considerable inhabitants of Wallingford’, and immediately recommended Aldworth as a candidate, assuming that he would ‘be well pleased to get in for a town in his own county, if it can be upon terms at least as easy as elsewhere’.2 Aldworth stood jointly with John Hervey against two Administration candidates, and was returned after an expensive contest. He later wrote that he was ‘much indebted’ to Bedford for his seat3—presumably he received financial assistance.
In Dupplin’s list Aldworth is classed as an Opposition Whig. When towards the end of 1755 Bedford became reconciled to Administration, Aldworth followed. He was anxious to obtain office, and on 8 Feb. 1757 wrote to Bedford that Lord Portsmouth had offered to return him for Whitchurch (where a vacancy seemed probable) ‘if a secure and easy seat in Parliament might, through your Grace’s influence, be instrumental in getting me a place at either of the Boards of Admiralty, or Trade’.4 Aldworth was among the minority who voted for the Minorca inquiry, 26 Apr. 1757.5 In 1761 he was returned by Bedford at Tavistock. Like the Duke he supported the Bute Administration. On 30 May 1762 he again applied to the Duke to recommend him for employment ‘at the Board of Trade or for any other post becoming an old and faithful humble servant of your Grace’s.’6 Bedford was unable to do anything immediately, but when he went to Paris in September to start negotiations for peace, he took Aldworth as his secretary. In May 1763, at Bedford’s recommendation, Neville (as Aldworth now was) was appointed paymaster of pensions, but instead of immediately returning to England remained in Paris as minister till the arrival of the new ambassador. He was described by David Hume,7 who met him in Paris, as ‘an honest, worthy English gentleman’.
Neville, who lost his post as paymaster on the formation of the Rockingham Administration, voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766. During the unsuccessful negotiations of December 1766 between Chatham and Bedford, he was included by the Duke among ‘friends who had suffered on our account to be replaced pari passu’.8 He voted against the Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, but at the end of 1767, with the other members of the Bedford group, went over to Administration. Returned again by Bedford for Tavistock in 1768, he wrote to the Duke on 23 Oct., asking to be recommended for postmaster general, should the position become vacant:
What makes that post an objection to most Members of Parliament, to me enhances its value; a strict attendance in the House being too much for my state of health. And though this appointment would not only be an honourable retreat from Parliament, but an ample compensation for the loss of a place, which through your Grace’s kind testimony and recommendation had been given as a reward for services, yet I have a consciousness about me, of not being totally undeserving of it.
Bedford replied that he was already under fire because of the number of his friends appointed to office, and must ‘wait till some more proper opportunity may present itself ... especially as you are in such circumstances as not to need any assistance’.9 Neville voted with the Administration over Wilkes and the Middlesex election, 3 Feb., 15 Apr., and 8 May 1769, and on Brass Crosby, 27 Mar. 1771. Robinson counted him as ‘doubtful, absent’ in both his surveys on the royal marriage bill, March 1772; no other vote by him was reported, and he was classed as ‘pro’ by Robinson in his survey of September 1774. There is no record of his having spoken during his 27 years in the House.
Neville, who for many years had suffered from continual ill-health, did not stand again for Parliament. He died 17 July 1793.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Mary M. Drummond
- 1. Bedford mss 28, ff. 41, 49.
- 2. Fane to Bedford, 6 Dec. 1752 (misdated Nov.), ibid. 28, f. 80.
- 3. Aldworth to Bedford, 8 Feb. 1757, ibid. 33, f. 7.
- 4. Ibid.
- 5. Add. 35877, f. 363.
- 6. Bedford mss 45, f. 178.
- 7. Letters, ed. Grieg, i. 409.
- 8. ‘Precis of the conversation betwixt Lord Chatham and me’, 1 Dec. 1766, Bedford mss 54, f. 132.
- 9. Ibid. 57, ff. 186, 190.