Thomas Neville ca.1548-1615

From Book Owners Online

Thomas NEVILLE ca.1548-1615

Armorial stamp of Thomas Neville (British Armorial Bindings)
Armorial stamp of Thomas Neville (British Armorial Bindings)

Biographical Note

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.

The gift label used to mark the books given to Trinity College (Trinity D.11.18, In evangelium secundum Matthauem ... commentarii, 1553)

Characteristic Markings

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.