Thomas Neville ca.1548-1615
Thomas NEVILLE ca.1548-1615
Born in Canterbury, son of Richard Neville, of South Leverton, Nottinghamshire. BA Pembroke College, Cambridge 1569, fellow 1570, MA 1572, DD 1589. Senior proctor of the University 1580, Master of Magdalene College 1582, prebendary of Ely 1587 and rector of Doddington-cum-March in the Isle of Ely. Vice-chancellor of Cambridge University 1588, Dean of Peterborough 1590, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge 1593, Dean of Canterbury 1597.
At both Trinity and Canterbury, Neville enhanced the musical establishment, and at Trinity he invested both energy and large sums of his own money in the buildings, improving the Great Court and building the quadrangle behind it known since as Neville’s Court. Theologically he was a firm Calvinist, a supporter of Whitgift, and involved in opposing the questioning of Calvinist doctrine in Cambridge in the 1590s.
Neville is remembered both as a benefactor at Trinity and as a pillager at Canterbury. He assembled a significant collection of medieval manuscripts, which he gave to Trinity in 1611-12; of the 126 manuscripts, 24 had been removed by him from the Cathedral Library at Canterbury. They comprised a mixture of material of English monastic provenance, two-thirds theological and the remainder including chronicles, literature and science. At the same time, he gave the College 94 printed books, mostly theological. We do not know how many books remained in his possession after these gifts; in his will, he bequeathed all the books in his study at Trinity to his relative Edward Neville, fellow of Trinity (d.1616). He also gave [at least one] manuscript to Magdalene College, in addition to a collection of more than 50 printed volumes. Examples: Trinity, Cambridge mss B.4.6, B.4.7, B.5.1 and many others; Cambridge UL E.14.47-48; Magdalene, Cambridge MS 3.
Neville used a series of armorial stamps. Many of his books in Trinity College are stamped with his initials TN; the College added a printed book label to mark the books from his gift.
- Will of Thomas Neville, The National Archives PROB 11/126/276.
- British Armorial Bindings.
- Collinson, P. et al (eds), History of Canterbury Cathedral, 1995.
- Gaskell, R. Trinity College Library: the first 150 years, 1980.
- Magdalene College, Cambridge, MS. F.4.33, F.6v.
- Mullinger, J. B., and Stanford Lehmberg. "Neville [Nevile], Thomas (c. 1548–1615), college head and dean of Canterbury." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.