Neville, Hugh de (DNB00)
|←Neville, Henry (1620-1694)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 40
Neville, Hugh de
NEVILLE, HUGH de (d. 1222), baron, was brother of Adam de Neville, who was granted in marriage the supposititious child and heiress of Thomas de Saleby, was excommunicated by St. Hugh of Lincoln, and, according to the latter's biographer, died in consequence in 1200 (Vita S. Hugonis, pp. 173–6); but he was certainly alive in 1201 (Rot. Cancell. p. 175). Hugh was also cousin of Ralph de Neville [q. v.], bishop of Chichester (Shirley, Royal and Historical Letters, i. 68). He is said to have been the son of Ralph de Neville (fl. 1170) (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 288). Accordingly, he must be distinguished from Hugh, son of Ernisius de Neville, who in 1198 was guarding the bishop of Beauvais at Rouen when Queen Eleanor sought to effect his escape (Rog. Hov. iv. 401); from Hugh, son of Henry de Neville of Lincolnshire; and from Hugh de Neville (d. 1234), apparently a son of the subject of this article, who is noticed at its close.
The number of Nevilles named Hugh and the absence of distinguishing marks between them render their biography largely a matter of conjecture. The family traced its descent from Gilbert de Neville, who is most doubtfully said to have commanded William the Conqueror's fleet (Battle Abbey Roll, ed. Duchess of Cleveland, ii. 342). The name was derived from the Norman fief of Neuville-sur-Touquer. Geoffrey de Neville (d. 1225) [q. v.] and Robert de Neville (d. 1282) [q. v.] were of the same family, and its members were numerous in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and the neighbouring counties.
According to Matthew Paris, Hugh de Neville was brought up as an intimate of Richard I, whom in 1190 he accompanied on his crusade to Palestine. In 1192 he was present at the siege of Joppa, of which he furnished an account to Ralph of Coggeshall [q. v.] (Coggeshall, pp. 45, 103; Matthew Paris, iii. 71; Itinerarium Regis Ricardi, p. xxxviii). He made his way home in safety when Richard was imprisoned, and on the king's release accompanied him on his Normandy expedition in May 1194. In 1198 he was appointed chief justice of forests, and during his visitation his extortions were complained of by Roger of Hoveden (iv. 63); he acted again in this capacity in the following year, and was also employed by Richard in his negotiations with the Cistercians (Coggeshall, p. 103). Dugdale's statement that he died in 1199 or before is apparently based on a misinterpretation of the authority he quotes (cf. Hardy, Rotuli de Oblatis, p. 103). Early in John's reign he was directed to exercise his office as it had been exercised in the time of Henry II, and in 1203 he witnessed the agreement for Queen Isabella's dowry (Rymer). From this time his name constantly occurs in the ‘Close’ and ‘Patent Rolls’ as witness to grants, and as one of John's chief advisers. In 1208 he was appointed treasurer; he adhered to John in his struggles with the pope and with the barons, and is naturally described by Matthew Paris as one of the king's evil counsellors. In 1213 he was warden of the sea ports in the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, and Southampton (Madox, Exchequer, i. 650). In 1215 Neville, with his father-in-law, Henry de Cornhill, and his son John, adhered to the king to the last. He was present at Runnymede, and signed the Magna Charta (Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 581); for his services to John he received from him numerous grants of land, including Comb-Nevil, Surrey, which had belonged to the Cornhill family (Manning and Bray, i. 399).
On John's death, however, Neville joined the baronial party; he swore allegiance to Louis, and handed over to him the castle of Marlborough. For this defection he forfeited his offices, and in 1217 his lands in Lincolnshire were granted to William de Neville, probably a relative; before the end of the year, however, he made his peace, and some, if not all, of his lands were restored to him (cf. his letter to his cousin Ralph in Shirley, Royal and Hist. Letters, i. 68). It may have been he who was acting as justice in 1218, but more probably it was Hugh de Neville (d. 1234). Neville died in 1222 (Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, iii. 71; John of Oxenedes, s.a.), and was buried in Waltham Abbey, which he had enriched by the grant of Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex (Matthew Paris, iii. 71; Dugdale, Monasticon, ii. 187; Farmer, Waltham Abbey, pp. 66–8). He married, first, in 1195, Joanna, daughter and heiress of Henry de Cornhill of London; and secondly, Desiderata, daughter and heiress of Stephen de Camera. Among other lands which he received with his first wife was part of Oxted, Surrey, which passed with their daughter Joan to the Cobhams (Manning and Bray, Surrey, ii. 383). Neville's first wife has attained notoriety as having paid a fine into the exchequer, which has been frequently quoted as a curious instance of mediæval tyranny, and furnished Edmund Burke with an illustration (Burke, Thoughts on Present Discontents, ed. Payne, p. 9, and note; Hardy, Rot. de Oblatis, p. 275; Madox, Exchequer, i. 471; Archæologia, xxxix. 202). By her Neville appears to have had a son John, who confirmed his gift to Waltham Abbey. Henry, who predeceased his father in 1218, and Hugh de Neville (see below) were possibly other sons; and there was at least one daughter, Joan.
Several of Neville's charters are preserved in the British Museum (MSS. Nos. 54 B; 8, 9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 33, 35), and to two is affixed his well-known seal bearing a representation of a man slaying a lion. Matthew Paris gives the story of Hugh's encounter with a lion in the Holy Land, which was the origin of the line,
Viribus Hugonis vires periere leonis.
The story has been consistently repeated by later writers, but Ralph Coggeshall, who knew Neville, does not mention it; nor does Roger Wendover nor Hoveden. It is probable that Neville, like other crusaders, adopted for his seal a device he found prevalent in the East, and that the story was evolved from the seal (Nichols, Herald and Genealogist, iv. 516–18).
Hugh de Neville (d. 1234), apparently son of the foregoing, was appointed in 1223 chief justice and warden of forests throughout the kingdom. He married Joanna, daughter of Henry FitzGervase (Placita de Quo Warranto, p. 454); is said to have been buried at Waltham Abbey in 1234, and to have left a son John, who succeeded him as chief justice of forests. His son John, after accompanying Richard, earl of Cornwall, on a crusade to Palestine (1240–2), was in 1244 accused by Robert Passelew [q. v.] of serious infractions of the forest laws and other offences. He was condemned, fined two thousand marks, and dismissed from his offices; and dying in 1246, at his manor of Wetherfield, was buried in Waltham Abbey, leaving a son Hugh, who fought against the king at Evesham, was captured at Kenilworth, and died in 1269.