Veel, Robert (DNB00)

VEEL, VEALE, or VEIL, ROBERT (1648–1674?), poetaster, born at Alveston, Gloucestershire, in 1648, was a younger son of William Veel of Simondshall in the same county, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Gulliford of Purbeck, Dorset.

The poetaster's grandfather, Thomas Veel (1591?–1663), born about 1591, was a zealous royalist. He was governor of Berkeley Castle in August 1644. He was afterwards displaced by the influence of Lord Bristol, in spite of his gallant defence of the castle (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1670, p. 668). But he subsequently raised a regiment of horse, and commanded it at the battle of Worcester, whence he escaped with difficulty to the continent. Recommended to the notice of Charles II by his relative Sir Edward Massey [q. v.], Veel received from him four blank commissions to raise troops, dated two from Bruges in November 1656, and two from Brussels in May 1659, and he assisted Massey in his unsuccessful attempt to raise Gloucestershire. For his ‘delinquency’ in the first civil war Veel was fined at the rate of one-sixth of the value of Alveston, and in September 1659 the family estates were ordered to be sequestered (Cal. of Comm. for Compounding, pp. 85, 2079, 3248). Clarendon in 1662 suggested a baronetcy as a reward to Veel for having ‘ruined his future in more than ordinary activity for the king’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1670, p. 668). In June 1662 he and his brother Nicholas obtained a grant of the office of making and registering assurances in the Royal Exchange (ib. 1661–2, pp. 386, 407). Colonel Thomas Veel died the next year at Alveston. He married Dorothy, daughter of John Winneat, and left several sons.

Robert Veel matriculated from St. Edmund Hall on 4 May 1664, where he resided ten terms, but left without a degree. Going to London, ‘he lived,’ says Wood, ‘after the manner of poets, in a debauched way,’ writing verses ‘to gain money and carry on the trade of folly,’ as well as to amuse himself and his idle companions. He died there obscurely about 1674. He published in 1672 a volume of tedious and somewhat freely conceived love songs and drinking catches, entitled ‘New Court Songs and Poems.’ Among these were songs from John Crowne's ‘Charles VIII of France,’ Ravenscroft's ‘Mamamouchi, or the Citizen turned Gentleman,’ and ‘The Fatal Jealousie,’ attributed to Nevil Payne. Others are described as having been sung to the king on his birthday. The dedication is to ‘Mr. T. D.,’ from whom the author professes to have drawn his inspiration. It is unlikely, for chronological reasons, that this was D'Urfey, as has been suggested. ‘New Court Songs’ have by some been attributed to one Robert Vine. Wood says that Veel published other tracts, and mentions ‘Poor Robin's Intelligence,’ which appeared in a half-sheet weekly in 1672–3, and contained an attack on the ‘misses of the town.’ A certain K.C. retorted with ‘Poor Robin's Elegy; or the Impostor Silenc'd,’ a half-sheet in verse and prose.

[The Veel pedigree is given in Fosbroke's Gloucestershire, pp. 38–40. See also Atkyns's Present and Ancient State of Gloucestershire, 2nd edit. pp. 449–50; Rudder's New Hist. of Gloucestershire, passim; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 1028–9; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Lowndes's Bibl. Manual, ed. Bohn; Biogr. Dram. ii. 92, 104, 228, iii. 12. For Colonel Thomas Veel see a paper contributed by his descendant, William Veel, F.S.A., to Archæologia, xiv. 75–83.]

G. Le G. N.