Richard Neile

Last updated

Richard Neile
Archbishop of York
Richard Neile portrait.jpg
Term ended1640
Predecessor Samuel Harsnett
Successor John Williams
Personal details
Bornbaptised (1562-03-11)11 March 1562
Died31 October 1640(1640-10-31) (aged 78)
Denomination Church of England
Education Westminster School
Alma mater St. John's College, Cambridge

Richard Neile (or Neale; 1562 – 31 October 1640) was an English churchman, bishop successively of six English dioceses, more than any other man, including the Archdiocese of York from 1631 until his death. He was involved in the last burning at the stake for heresy in England, that of the Arian Edward Wightman in 1612.


Early life

Neile was born in Westminster, and baptised on 11 March 1562 at St Margaret's, Westminster. [1]

He was son of a tallow-chandler, though his grandfather had been a courtier and official under Henry VIII, until he was deprived for non-compliance with the Six Articles. He was educated at Westminster School, under Edward Grant and William Camden. He was sent by Mildred, Lady Burghley (wife of Lord Burghley), on the recommendation of Gabriel Goodman to St John's College, Cambridge as a poor scholar, [2] matriculating at Easter 1580, graduating B.A. 1584, M.A. 1587, B.D. 1595, D.D. 1600. [1]

Ordained deacon and priest at Peterborough in 1589, [1] he continued to enjoy the patronage of the Burghley family, residing in their household, and became chaplain to Lord Burghley, and later to his son Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury. [2]

He preached before Queen Elizabeth, and became vicar of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire (1590) and rector of Toddington, Bedfordshire (1598). [1] He was appointed Master of the Savoy in 1602, and in July 1603 Clerk of the Closet, [3] a position he would hold until 1632. On 5 November 1605 he was installed Dean of Westminster, resigning the deanery in 1610. [2]


He held successively the bishoprics of Rochester (1608), Lichfield and Coventry (1610), Lincoln (1614), Durham (1617), and Winchester (1628), and the archbishopric of York (1631).

While at Rochester he appointed William Laud as his chaplain and gave him several valuable preferments. His political activity while bishop of Durham was rewarded with a privy councillorship in 1627. Neile sat regularly in the courts of Star Chamber and High Commission. His correspondence with Laud and with Sir Dudley Carleton and Sir Francis Windebank (Charles I's secretaries of state) are valuable sources for the history of the time.

Oliver Cromwell made only one speech during his first stint as a Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in the Parliament of 1628–1629, a poorly received attack against Neile, possibly over disagreement with his form of Arminianism. [4]


Neile was the father of Sir Paul Neile, astronomer and politician, and grandfather of William Neile, mathematician. [5] His brother, another William Neile (1560–1624), was a book-collector who left 880 books to his children at his death. [6]

Related Research Articles

Richard Deane (regicide)

Richard Deane (1610–1653), Englishman who supported the Parliamentary cause in the English Civil War. He was a General at Sea, major-general and regicide.

Francis White (bishop)

Francis White was an English bishop and controversialist.

Thomas Goodwin

Thomas Goodwin, known as "the Elder", was an English Puritan theologian and preacher, and an important leader of religious Independents. He served as chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and was imposed by Parliament as President of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1650. Christopher Hill places Goodwin in the "main stream of Puritan thought".

Richard Montagu was an English cleric and prelate.

John Buckeridge

John Buckeridge was an English churchman.

Sir Richard Newdigate, 1st Baronet was an English judge, landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660.


Laudianism was an early seventeenth-century reform movement within the Church of England, promulgated by Archbishop William Laud and his supporters. It rejected the predestination upheld by the previously dominant Calvinism in favour of free will, and hence the possibility of salvation for all men. It is probably best known for its impact on the Anglican High Church movement and its emphasis on liturgical ceremony and clerical hierarchy. Laudianism was the culmination of the move towards Arminianism in the Church of England, but was neither purely theological in nature, nor restricted to the English church.

Benjamin Lany British bishop

Benjamin Lany was an English academic and bishop.

Lazarus Seaman, was an English clergyman, supporter in the Westminster Assembly of the Presbyterian party, intruded Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and nonconformist minister.

Augustine Lindsell was an English classical scholar and Bishop of Hereford. In church matters he was advanced by Richard Neile, and was a firm supporter of William Laud. As a scholar he influenced Thomas Farnaby.

Peter Smart

Peter Smart (1569–1652?) was an Anglican Puritan clergyman, kept imprisoned for 12 years after he preached against innovations in the ceremonies at Durham Cathedral.

Thomas Beard

Thomas Beard was an English clergyman and theologian, of Puritan views. He is known as the author of The Theatre of Gods Judgements, and the schoolmaster of Oliver Cromwell at Huntingdon.

John Barwick

John Barwick (1612–1664) was an early English royalist churchman and Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Thomas Turner was an English royalist churchman and Dean of Canterbury.

Edward Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Boughton (1616–1684) of Boughton House, Northamptonshire was an English peer and politician.

Eleazar Duncon was an English Royalist divine.

Sir Paul Neile FRS was an English astronomer and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1640 and from 1673 to 1677.

Samuel Page (1574–1630) was an English clergyman and poet.

William Laud Archbishop of Canterbury (1573–1645)

William Laud was a clergyman in the Church of England, appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by Charles I in 1633. A key advocate of Charles's religious reforms, he was arrested by Parliament in 1640, and executed towards the end of the First English Civil War in January 1645.

The Cromwell family is an English aristocratic family. Its most famous members are: Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, and Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector. The line of Oliver Cromwell descends from Richard Williams, son of Thomas Cromwell's sister Katherine and her husband Morgan Williams.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Neale, Richard (NL580R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. 1 2 3 Hutton, W. H. (1894). "Neile, Richard"  . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography . 40. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. McCullough, Peter (1998). Sermons at Court: Politics and Religion in Elizabethan and Jacobean Preaching. 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 110. ISBN   9780521590464 . Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  4. Morrill, pp.25–26.
  5. "Neile, William"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  6. Westminster Archives, Commissary Court of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster wills, Camden 27.


Church of England titles
Preceded by
Lancelot Andrewes
Dean of Westminster
Succeeded by
George Montaigne
Preceded by
William Barlow
Bishop of Rochester
Succeeded by
John Buckeridge
Preceded by
George Abbot
Bishop of Lichfield
Succeeded by
John Overal
Preceded by
William Barlow
Bishop of Lincoln
Succeeded by
George Montaigne
Preceded by
William James
Prince-Bishop of Durham
Preceded by
Lancelot Andrewes
Bishop of Winchester
Succeeded by
Walter Curle
Preceded by
Samuel Harsnett
Archbishop of York
Succeeded by
John Williams
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Somerset
Lord Lieutenant of Durham
Title next held by
John Howson