NEVILLE, Sir Henry III (1588-1629), of Billingbear, Waltham St. Lawrence, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



8 Nov. 1621

Family and Education

bap. 10 Mar. 1588,1 1st s. of Sir Henry Neville I* of Billingbear and Anne, da. of (Sir) Henry Killigrew† of Lothbury, London; Hendon, Mdx.; and Truro, Cornw. educ. Merton, Oxf. 1600, aged 12, BA 1603; travelled abroad (France) 1607-8; L. Inn 1614.2 m. 2 May 1609 (with £3,200), Elizabeth (d.1669), da. of Sir John Smythe I* of Westenhanger, Kent, 4s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da. (1 d.v.p.).3 kntd. 30 Mar. 1609;4 suc. fa. 1615. d. 29 June 1629. sig. Henry Nevill.

Offices Held

High steward, Wokingham, Berks. 1615;5 kpr. Battle’s Walk, Windsor Forest, Berks. 1615-21, unidentified Walk by 1627;6 commr. subsidy, New Windsor, Berks. 1621-2,7 Forced Loan, Berks. 1626.8

Member, E.I. Co. by 1618, Africa Co. 1618, New River Co. by 1619, Virg. Co. by 1620.9

Gent. privy chamber, extraordinary 1628-d.10


The eldest son and heir of Sir Henry Neville I, whose distinctive red hair he shared,11 Neville was born in 1588 at Mayfield in Sussex. Mayfield was sold in 1597, and thereafter Neville lived at Billingbear in Berkshire until his father was appointed ambassador to France. On returning to England from Paris in August 1600,12 he was admitted to his father’s alma mater, Merton College, Oxford. Shortly thereafter Sir Henry was arrested and fined for suspicion of involvement in Essex’s rising. The heavy financial penalty threatened to curtail Neville’s education,13 but in the event the fine was halved and Neville remained at Oxford, where in June 1603 he was awarded his BA.

Neville returned home in 1605.14 His father, now freed, hoped that his son would enter royal service and therefore resolved to take him abroad to round off his education. In the event he did not accompany his son, who journeyed to France but not Italy, where his father feared he would be unsafe.15 By the end of March 1609 Neville had returned to England and was knighted. Plans for his marriage to a daughter of the recently deceased Sir John Smythe were by then far advanced, but were interrupted on Good Friday, when he was violently arrested in London at the suit of a French merchant for piracy off the Irish coast in the previous year. After demonstrating that he had been in Saumur when the pirates struck, Neville was released on bail of £1,000, and shortly afterwards celebrated his wedding. As his accuser failed to pursue his Admiralty suit he was imprisoned in the Fleet, whereupon Neville resolved to prosecute him in Star Chamber. However, the Frenchman claimed he was too poor to retain counsel and refused to answer the bill of complaint.16

Granted honorary admission to Lincoln’s Inn in March 1614 at the request of Thomas Richardson*, Neville was returned to the Addled Parliament for Chipping Wycombe, a Buckinghamshire borough less than ten miles from Billingbear. He seems to have been entirely inactive, for although the Commons Journal frequently mentions a man of his name all such references are almost certainly to his father, who also sat.

Neville entered into a debt-ridden inheritance in July 1615, and over the next five years he alienated two manors, sold timber from the rest,17 and invested £300 in the East India Company. Shortly after taking over his patrimony it was reported that the family friend, secretary of state Sir Ralph Winwood*, had secured for Neville his father’s offices in the forest of Windsor, to which Neville was entitled by a reversionary grant.18 In fact, the Exchequer, headed by Winwood’s enemy the 1st earl of Suffolk (Thomas Howard†), now proceeded to set aside Neville’s rights. On 20 July the stewardship of Sonning was conferred on Suffolk’s son-in-law William, Lord Knollys (William Knollys†), while in August the keepership of Mote Park was granted to a groom of the privy chamber. Neville naturally proved reluctant to relinquish his claims, but following Winwood’s death in October 1617 he was forced to concede a measure of defeat, for in November both he and the groom surrendered their respective rights to Mote Park.19 Nevertheless, he managed to obtain two keeperships formerly held by his father. In 1621 he surrendered one of them - that of Battle’s Walk - to Richard Harrison*, and by 1627 he was in dispute with Harrison over the other.20

Someone named Sir Henry Neville was elected to the third Jacobean Parliament for Wilton on the interest of the 3rd earl of Pembroke at a by-election in November 1621, but made no impression on the records of the winter sitting. It seems likely that this was Neville himself rather than his cousin, the crypto-Catholic Sir Henry Neville II*. Pembroke was stoutly Protestant, and in December 1628 his brother, the earl of Montgomery (Sir Philip Herbert*), appointed Neville a gentleman of the privy chamber in extraordinary. Moreover, following Neville’s death, Pembroke purchased the wardship of Neville’s son, and his secretary, Sir John Thoroughgood*, subsequently married Neville’s widow and acquired the wardship himself.21

In April 1629 Neville’s brother, Edward, gloomily reported that Neville ‘will hardly last out another winter, he is now so extreme cold in summer’.22 Declining health led Neville to consult the Court physician, Dr. Theodore Turquet de Mayerne, whose remedies were not only ineffective but may have served to shorten his life.23 ‘Weak in body’, he drafted a short will on 1 June, having earlier made over a rectory in Yorkshire to his brother, William, and Sir Richard Beaumont*. This was to be sold to pay off his debts and raise portions for his three young daughters.24 He died on 29 June, and was buried the following day in the church of St. Lawrence Waltham,25 as he had requested. The Billingbear estate thereupon descended to his 15-year-old son Richard, who represented Berkshire during the 1670s.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. E. Suss. RO, PAR/422/1/1/1.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 371; STAC 8/220/18; LI Admiss. 165.
  • 3. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 250; Soc. Gen., transcript of Waltham St. Lawrence par. reg., 43-6, 48, 50; IGI; PROB 11/113, f. 337; Berks. RO, D/EN F41.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 147.
  • 5. HMC 8th Rep. 283.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 79; SP16/85/36.
  • 7. C212/22/20-1.
  • 8. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144.
  • 9. CSP Col. E.I., 1617-21, p. 164; Select Charters of Trading Cos. ed. C.T. Carr (Selden Soc. xxviii), 99, 111; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 330.
  • 10. LC5/132, p. 67.
  • 11. STAC 8/220/18.
  • 12. HMC Hatfield, x. 271.
  • 13. Ibid. xii. 43-4.
  • 14. Winwood’s Memorials ed. E. Sawyer, ii. 56-7.
  • 15. SP14/37/47.
  • 16. STAC 8/220/18; Carleton to Chamberlain ed. M. Lee, 111; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 535; Berks. RO, D/EN L4.
  • 17. VCH Berks. iii. 193; iv. 476; CSP Col. E.I. 1619-23, p. 79.
  • 18. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 608-9. For the reversion, see CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 372.
  • 19. E315/310, f. 77v; E214/1586-7.
  • 20. CSP Dom. 1627-8, pp. 436, 446.
  • 21. Ibid. 1629-31, p. 86; WARD 9/163, f. 24v.
  • 22. Beaumont Letters ed. W.D. Macray (Roxburghe Club xciii), 63.
  • 23. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 86.
  • 24. PROB 11/156, ff. 104v-5.
  • 25. Soc. Gen., transcript of Waltham St. Lawrence par. reg. 52.