CATELYN, Sir Neville (1634-1702), of Kirby Cane, Norf. and Wingfield Castle, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



10 Feb. - 21 Apr. 1679
5 May 1679

Family and Education

bap. 3 Mar. 1634, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Richard Catelyn of Kirby Cane, being o.s. by 2nd w. Dorothy, da. of Sir Henry Neville of Billingbear, Berks. educ. King’s, Camb. 1650. m. (1) Dorothy, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Bedingfield of Darsham, Suff., 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) Elizabeth (bur. 5 Feb. 1681), da of Robert Houghton of Ranworth, Norf., 1s. d.v.p.; (3) Mary, da. of Sir William Blois of Grundisburgh Hall, Suff., s.p. suc. fa. 1662; kntd. 11 Oct. 1662.1

Offices Held

Capt. of militia horse, Norf. Apr. 1660, maj. by 1676-?79; commr. for assessment, Norf. and Suff. 1661-80, Norf., Norwich and Suff. 1689-90; j.p. Norf. 1668-Feb. 1688, 1689-d., Suff. 1680-5; dep. lt. Norf. by 1676-Feb. 1688, Nov. 1688-?d., Suff. 1680-5.2


Catelyn was descended from a Norwich family which had represented the city in several Tudor Parliaments. His grandfather established himself as a country gentleman with the purchase of Kirby Cane in 1604. The family was royalist in the Civil War. Catelyn’s half-brother was killed in action, and his father was disabled from sitting in the Long Parliament in 1644 for deserting the service of the House, and his estate sequestrated. But he was discharged without fine by order of the House in 1647. He signed the petition for a free Parliament in 1660.3

Catelyn entered Norfolk politics in 1675 as an adherent of Lord Yarmouth (Robert Paston), and was defeated by Sir Robert Kemp in a county by-election, at a cost of not less than £600. When a vacancy occurred at Norwich in February 1678 William Wyndham, the brother-in-law of Yarmouth’s rival, Lord Townshend, thought it unwise to oppose ‘so popular and notable a knight’ as Catelyn; but before the poll he made way for Yarmouth’s son, William Paston. At the first general election of 1679 he was recommended for the county by (Sir) Joseph Williamson, and nominated by Yarmouth as a candidate ‘devoted to the crown’ who would not ‘meddle with ministers of state’. He was returned after a bitter contest, classed as ‘base’ by Shaftesbury, and appointed to the committee of elections and privileges. He was unseated when the election was declared void, but re-elected a fortnight later. He was not named to any further committees in the first Exclusion Parliament, but voted against the bill. He ‘earnestly’ desired Yarmouth to excuse him from standing again in the autumn, assuring him he would exercise to the utmost his interest in favour of any other court candidate, but at length agreed to stand with Sir Christopher Calthorpe when a county subscription was raised to meet their expenses. An agent of Yarmouth’s reported that he had spoiled his chances by going home the day before the poll ‘to the great dissatisfaction and discouragement of his friends’, adding ‘I cannot as yet understand that Sir Nevill did withdraw for any other reason but only that the rabble did asperse him with being popishly affected’. His ‘timorousness’ so disappointed his friends, the same correspondent went on, that they resolved not to support him again in the future. In March 1682 he subscribed to the loyal address from Norfolk disavowing the ‘Association’.4

Catelyn was elected for Norwich unopposed in 1685, and was listed among the Opposition. A moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament, he was appointed to four committees of no political importance. In 1688 he told the lord lieutenant:

If he should be chosen a Member of Parliament when the King shall think fit to call one, he can by no means consent to the taking off the Penal Laws and the Tests, though he is of opinion that in the Penal Laws some things may be reviewed and amended.

He was removed from local office, and when he was restored in October 1688 he followed the example of Sir John Holland in refusing to sit with the Roman Catholics. He was re-elected in 1689, and, according to Anthony Rowe, voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. Again moderately active in the Convention, he was appointed to 15 committees, including those to hear a petition from dealers in Norwich stuffs (11 May) and to consider the establishment of a ‘court of conscience’ for small claims in the city (16 Nov.). Granted leave of absence for a fortnight on 7 Dec., he was added to the elections committee on the next day. He died in July 1702 and was buried at Kirby Cane, the last of his family. His widow married Sir Charles Turner, MP for King’s Lynn from 1695 to 1738.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. lxxxv), 49; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 161-2.
  • 2. Parl. Intell. 9 Apr. 1660; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 77; HMC Lothian, 127; Norf. Ltcy. Jnl. (Norf. Rec. Soc. xxx), 7, 104.
  • 3. Blomefield, Norf. viii. 31-35; Keeler, Long Parl. 128; Cal. Comm. Comp. 113, 942; W. Rye, Address from the Gentry of Norf. (1660).
  • 4. HMC 7th Rep. 532; Add. 36988, ff. 143-6, 149, 180; Ketton-Cremer mss, Hobart to Windham, 22 Feb. 1678; CSP Dom. 1679-80, pp. 59, 66.
  • 5. Norf. Ltcy. Jnl. 88; Blomefield, viii. 32.