Neville, Richard Neville Aldworth (DNB00)


NEVILLE, RICHARD NEVILLE ALDWORTH (1717–1793), statesman, of Billingbear, and Stanlake, Berkshire, only son of Richard Aldworth of Stanlake, by Catherine, daughter of Richard Neville of Billingbear, was born on 3 Sept. 1717. Through his mother he was descended from Sir Henry Neville (1564?–1615) [q. v.] He assumed the name and arms of Neville in August 1762, when, on the death of the Countess of Portsmouth, widow of his maternal uncle, Henry Neville Grey, esq., he succeeded to the estate of Billingbear (Home Office Papers, 1760–5, p. 247). He was educated at Eton, and was intimate there with Lord Sandwich, Lord Rochford, Lord Orford, Owen Cambridge, and Jacob Bryant. On 12 July 1736 he matriculated at Merton College, Oxford. Instead of finishing his course at Oxford he travelled abroad. In 1739 he visited Geneva, and passed every winter there till 1744, joining other English visitors—John Hervey, earl of Bristol, William Windham, Benjamin Stillingfleet—in ‘a common room’ for ‘an hour or two after dinner’ (cf. Coxe, Lit. Life of Benjamin Stillingfleet), and taking part in private theatricals, in which he played among other parts Macbeth, and Pierrot in pantomime. In 1745 he went to Italy.

At the general election of 1747 Neville became M.P. for Reading. He represented Wallingford from 1754 to 1761, and Tavistock from 1761 to 1768, and again till 1774. He joined the whigs, and was very favourably noticed by the Duke of Bedford. He was appointed under-secretary of state for the southern department on 13 Feb. 1748, under Bedford, and held office till his chief's resignation, 12 July 1751. He was also joint secretary to the council of regency in 1748 and 1750. On 4 Sept. 1762 he became secretary to the embassy at Paris. Bedford was acting as British plenipotentiary at the conference then summoned to consider the terms of peace between England and France, and Neville proved of much service. Walpole credits him with causing a delay in the signature of the preliminaries till the capture of the Havannah had become known (Memoirs of the Reign of George III, p. 200, and editor's note). Bedford acknowledged in generous terms Neville's aid when writing to Egremont, secretary of state, on 10 Feb. 1763, and, by way of reward, Neville was made paymaster of the band of pensioners. On 15 Feb. he arrived in England with the definitive treaty, which had been signed on the 10th at Paris (Home Office Papers, 1760–5, p. 266). The king and Lord Bute received him ‘most graciously’ (Neville to Bedford, 16 Feb. 1763). A few days later (23 Feb.) Rigby wrote to Bedford: ‘Neville has touched his thousand at the treasury without any deductions; he is in great spirits.’

He soon returned to Paris to act as plenipotentiary until the arrival of the Earl of Hertford, Bedford's successor, in May 1763. While at Compiègne in August Wilkes visited him (Wilkes to Earl Temple, 29 Aug. 1763). Louis XVI, on taking leave of him, gave him his picture set with diamonds, and the Duc de Choiseul treated him with unusual consideration (Neville to Bedford, 26 Oct.). After his settlement again in England he took no prominent part in public affairs. He suffered from gout, and died at Billingbear, after a lingering illness, on 17 July 1793. By his wife Magdalen, daughter of Francis Calendrini, first syndic of Geneva, whom he married in 1748, and who died in 1750, he had two children: a daughter Frances (who became the wife of Francis Jalabert, esq.) and Richard Aldworth, second baron Braybrooke [q. v.]

Neville was accomplished and amiable, an affectionate father, and not only a good classical scholar, but well acquainted with French and Italian. Coxe, in the ‘Literary Life of Benjamin Stillingfleet,’ gives a sonnet addressed to Neville by Stillingfleet (ii. 165), and in the same work, to which Neville himself contributed, there is an engraving of him by Basire. At Audley End, Essex, there is a portrait by Zoffany (engraved by Tomkins), as well as a full-length by Vanderbanck in the hall.

[Rowland's Genealogical Account of the Nevill Family, table v.; Burke's Peerage; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Playfair's British Family Antiquity; Coxe's Literary Life of Benjamin Stillingfleet, i. 73–80, 98–107, 160–74, ii. 165; Hist. of Audley End (by third Lord Braybrooke), pp. 53, 105, 128; Bedford Correspondence, ii. 93, iii. 93, 195, 199, 203, 212, 246, 252–4; Grenville Papers, ii. 29, 52 (see note), 57–8, 99; Gent. Mag. 1748 pp. 188, 235, 1750 pp. 187, 233, 1762 p. 448, 1763 pp. 314, 561; Returns of Members of Parliament.]

G. Le G. N.