Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Neville, Alexander (1544-1614)

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NEVILLE, ALEXANDER (1544–1614), scholar, born in 1544, was brother of Thomas Neville [q. v.], dean of Canterbury, and son of Richard Neville of South Leverton, Nottinghamshire, by Anne, daughter of Sir Walter Mantell of Heyford, Northamptonshire. Towards the end of his life the father removed to Canterbury, where he died on 3 Aug. 1599. His mother's sister Margaret was mother of Barnabe Googe [q. v.] Alexander was educated at Cambridge, where he graduated M.A. in 1581 at the same time as Robert, earl of Essex. On leaving the university he seems to have studied law in London, where he became acquainted with George Gascoigne [q. v.] the poet. He is one of the five friends whom Gascoigne describes as challenging him to write poems on Latin mottoes proposed by themselves (cf. Gascoigne, Flowres of Poesie, 1572). Neville soon entered the service of Archbishop Parker, apparently as a secretary, and edited for him 'Tabula Heptarchiae Saxonicae' (Tanner). In an extant letter in Latin addressed to his master, Neville drew an attractive picture of the studious life led by the archbishop and his secretaries (Strype, Parker, iii. 346). He attended Parker's funeral on 6 June 1575 (ib. ii. 432), and wrote an elegy in Latin heroics (ib. ii. 436-7). He remained in the service of Parker's successors, Grindal and Whitgift (cf. Strype, Whitgift, i. 435). Possibly he is identical with the Alexander Neville who sat in parliament as M.P. for Christchurch, Hampshire, in 1585, and for Saltash in 1601. He died on 4 Oct. 1614, and was buried on 9 Oct. in Canterbury Cathedral, where the dean erected a monument to commemorate both his brother and himself (Battely, Canterbury, App. p. 7). He married Jane, daughter of Richard Buncombe of Morton, Buckinghamshire, and widow of Sir Gilbert Dethick, but left no issue.

His chief work was an account in Latin of Kett's rebellion of 1549, to which he appended a description of Norwich and its antiquities. The work, which was undertaken under Parker's guidance, was entitled 'A. Nevylii … de Furoribus Norfolcensium Ketto Duce. Eiusdem Norvicus,' London (by H. Binneman), 1575. A list of the mayors and sheriffs of Norwich was added. The dedication was addressed to Parker, and Thomas Drant [q. v.] prefixed verses. A passage on p. 132 incidentally spoke of the laziness of the Welsh levies who had taken part in the suppression of Kett's rebellion, and compared the Welsh soldiers to sheep. Offence was taken by the government at this sneer, and a new edition was at once issued with the offensive sentences omitted and an additional dedication to Archbishop Grindal, the successor of Parker, who had died in the interval. Neville also published in 1576 'A. Nevylii ad Walliae proceres apologia' (London, by H. Binneman, 4to), in which he acknowledged his error of judgment. The account of Kett was appended under the title 'Kettus' to Christopher Ocland's 'Anglorum Praelia,' 1582, and in 1615 an English translation by the Rev. Richard Woods of Norwich appeared with the title 'Norfolk Furies their Foyle under Kett and their Accursed Captaine: with a description of the famous Citye of Norwich;' another edition is dated 1623.

Neville was a competent writer of Latin verse and prose. His earliest publication was a translation of Seneca's 'Oedipus,' which he 'englished' in a rough ballad metre in 1560, and dedicated to Henry Wotton. It was first published as 'The Lamentable Tragedie of Oedipus the Sonne of Laius, Kyng of Thebes, out of Seneca. By A. Nevyle,' London, 1563, 8vo (Brit. Mus.) Thomas Newton (1542?-1607) [q. v.] included it in his 'Seneca his Tenne Tragedies,' London, 1581. In 1587 appeared Neville's 'Academiae Cantabrigiensis lacrymse tumulo … P. Sidneij sacratæ per A. Nevillum,' Cambridge, 1587, 4to, with a dedication to the Earl of Leicester. Sir John Harington commended this poem in his annotations on Ariosto's 'Orlando Furioso' (bk. 37). Neville also contributed English verses to his uncle Barnabe Googe's 'Eglogs and Sonettes,' 1563. According to an entry in the ' Stationers' Registers ' (Collier, Extracts, ii. 37), he was in 1576 engaged on a translation of Livy.

[Cole's Athenae Cantab, in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 5877; Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 442, 3rd ser. iii.,114, 177; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Brydges's Restituta, i. 84; iv. 359; Ritson's Bibl. Anglo Poetica.]

S. L.