Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Netterville, John
NETTERVILLE, Sir JOHN, second Viscount Netterville of Dowth (d. 1659), was the eldest son of Nicholas, first viscount (d. 1654), by his first wife, Eleanor Bathe. He was early known as a champion of the Irish catholics, and was one of those recusants who on 16 Nov. 1632 petitioned Lord-deputy Wentworth to refrain from rigorously enforcing the Act of 2 Eliz. against them (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. x. pt. i.). In 1623 he had married Lady Elizabeth Weston, daughter of the Lord-treasurer Portland, and this gave his family a protector at court.
At the outbreak of the Irish rebellion, 23 Oct. 1641, Sir John Netterville had been for some time in command of a half-standing company of ninety-seven men, with which he joined Lord Moore at Drogheda on the 26th. He gave Moore rather more trouble than help, and it was believed that he attempted to excite the catholic townsmen against the garrison, and thus to make the town an easy prey to the Irish army. Detected, or at least distrusted, he withdrew to his own house in the neighbourhood. About the end of November, according to Dean Nicholas Bernard [q. v.], his father, Lord Netterville, boasted that he would take Drogheda in a day or two, and refused to let castaway English protestants enter the town. On 5 Feb. 1642 the House of Commons ordered the Irish government to remove Sir John Netterville from his command, as well as all who refused to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, Clanricarde only excepted (Cal. of Clarendon State Papers, vol. i.) Lord Netterville was already in arms against the government, while professing loyalty to the king, and his eldest son trimmed between the English and Irish parties. But no country house was tenable under the circumstances and no neutrality possible; and Sir John took advantage of Ormonde's approach for the relief of Drogheda to make a show of standing well with the king if not with the puritan lords-justices. He accordingly went to the camp at Garristown, whence Ormonde sent him to Dublin, on 12 March 1641–2, and on his arrival he was shut up in the castle. He complained that he had been induced to surrender only by the king's proclamation of 1 Jan., that he was the fourth or fifth person so to give himself up; and that no more than fourteen or fifteen in all had done so (Lodge). The Dublin lawyers held that there was proof of treason, but that a Meath jury was hopeless, and the chancellor, Sir Richard Bolton [q. v.], said ‘the sheriff must make return that there are none in the same county, then in the next county, and so the next to the King's bench, till they can find a complete jury’ (Confederation and War, ii. 186). A copy of his indictment, although at first denied him, was soon granted him (ib. p. 193; Letters in Carte, No. 122). Netterville put in various dilatory pleas, but on 8 Feb. 1642–3 he was at last arraigned in the king's bench. The trial was not proceeded with in consequence of petitions from himself and his fellow-prisoners which were forwarded by Ormonde both to the king and to the House of Commons (ib. No. 138). Netterville was released in April, and justified his imprisonment by at once joining Preston's Leinster army. His brother Luke and another brother, who was a jesuit, had already been the subject of an acrimonious controversy between the House of Commons and Charles; the king being accused of granting safe-conducts to papists returning to Ireland in defiance of a parliamentary embargo (Rushworth, iv. 503–16).
His father took the oath of association of the confederate catholics on 26 July 1644 (Walsh, App. p. 31), and was one of three commissioners sent by the catholic confederation in October 1645 to attend Rinuccini through Cork, Limerick, and Tipperary to Kilkenny. He subscribed the oath of January 1647 which bound him to maintain that the church of Rome should be restored to the position which it held under Henry VII (Embassy in Ireland, p. 90; Hibernia Dominicana, p. 95), but took an active part against the nuncio in 1648 (Walsh, App. pp. 33, 87), and afterwards adhered to the party of Ormonde and Clanricarde. In 1650 Sir John was still in the field, but with scarcely half a dozen horse in his troop (Confederation and War, ii. 374). By the Cromwellian act of settlement, 12 Aug. 1652, Lord Netterville and his eldest son were excepted from pardon for life and estate, but seem not to have been personally molested. Netterville retired to England, where his wife, as an Englishwoman, was allowed in 1653 to enjoy part of the rents of the estate. On his father's death in 1654 he inherited the peerage, but died in London in September 1659. He was buried in the church of St. Giles's-in-the-Fields by the side of his wife, who had died in 1656. Of Netterville's seven brothers, Luke, Patrick, Richard, and Thomas were engaged in the Irish rebellion, while Christopher and Nicholas were jesuits. His son Nicholas succeeded him as third viscount, and he had several other children.[Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, vol. iv.; Strafford Letters, vol. i.; Peter Walsh's Hist. of the Remonstrance, 1674; Contemporary Hist. of Affairs and Confederation and War in Ireland, ed. Gilbert; Carte's Ormonde; De Burgo's Hibernia Dominicana, Supplement, 1772; and the other authorities cited.]