Neville, Alexander (d.1392) (DNB00)

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NEVILLE, ALEXANDER (d. 1392), archbishop of York, was younger brother of John, fifth lord Neville of Raby [q. v.] (Knighton, c. 2713), and was son of Ralph, fourth lord Neville [q. v.], and his wife Alice, daughter of Hugh, lord Audley (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 295). He received a prebend in York by command of Edward III in 1361, and was archdeacon of Durham from 1369 to 1371. He was elected archbishop in succession to John Thoresby, who died 6 Nov. 1373, and, a bull having been obtained, was consecrated 4 June 1374 at Westminster, and enthroned at York on 18 Dec. On his consecration he presented to his cathedral two massive silver-gilt candlesticks. As soon as he came to York he quarrelled with the dean and chapter, and specially with the treasurer, John Clifford. He also quarrelled with the canons of the collegiate churches of Beverley and Ripon, and by all means in his power endeavoured arbitrarily to override their statutes. At Beverley he met with stout resistance. He seized the revenues of the church, and in 1381 displaced six of the vicars, filling their places with six vicars choral from York, who remained at Beverley more than two years. The Beverley vicars were finally reinstated by order of the king and parliament in 1388. He also quarrelled with the citizens of York. In 1384 he removed his consistory court from York to Beverley, which he made the place of meeting for synods and convocations. When King Richard was in the neighbourhood in 1387 he redressed the grievances of the citizens, but declined to interfere in ecclesiastical quarrels (Knighton, c. 2692; Drake, Eboracum, pp. 435, 436). These Neville had prosecuted with much vigour and harshness, freely using the weapons of suspension and excommunication. Appeals were made to the pope, whose sentence was against the archbishop (Chronica Pontificum Ecclesiæ Ebor. ap. Historians of York, pp. 423, 424). These quarrels are enough to account for the cessation during his primacy of the building of the new choir at York, begun by his predecessor Thoresby (York Fabric Rolls, pp. 13, 187). However, he gave one hundred marks to the fabric, and presented the church with a splendid cope, adorned with gold and precious stones. He also repaired the archiepiscopal castle at Cawood, built new towers to it, and gave two small bells to the chapel, out of which was cast one large bell called Alexander after him.

Neville was one of the most trusted friends of Richard II, and was a conspicuous member of the court party. In the autumn of 1386 he was included in the commission appointed to regulate the affairs of the kingdom and the royal household (Rolls of Parliament, iii. 221; Stubbs, Constitutional History, iii. 475, 476). From that time at least he seems to have been constantly at the court, where his presence was displeasing to the lords of Gloucester's party, for he encouraged the king to resist the commissioners, to withdraw himself from their society, and to listen only to the advice of his favourites, telling him that if he yielded to the lords he would have no power left, and that they were making him a merely titular king (Chronicon Angliæ, p. 374). He is said to have been one of those who advised Richard to leave the court in 1387, and join his favourite Robert de Vere, duke of Ireland, in Wales, and to take active measures against the opposition (ib. p. 379; Vita Ricardi, pp. 77, 84). He assisted in placing the king's case against the commission before the judges at Shrewsbury (Knighton, c. 2693), and is said to have advised that Gloucester and the Earl of Arundel should be surprised and arrested. Accompanying the king to Nottingham in his hasty progress through the country, he took part in the council held there, and on 25 Aug. obtained and signed the decision of the judges in the king's favour (ib. c. 2696; Chronicon Angliæ, p. 382). He entered London with the king on 10 Nov., going in front of the procession, with his cross borne before him. On the 12th Gloucester, Arundel, and Warwick, who were advancing with an armed force towards London, sent William Courtenay [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, and others to Richard, demanding that Neville, Michael de la Pole, the duke of Ireland, and others should be punished as traitors, and two days later formally appealed them of treason. Richard received the lords at Westminster on the 17th, and promised them that Neville and the four others whom they accused should attend the next parliament and answer for their acts. On the 20th Neville fled, and it was believed went northwards (ib. 2701); he soon, probably, went over to Flanders. In the parliament that met in February 1388 he and the other four were appealed of treason by the lords. He did not appear, and was pronounced guilty. Being a churchman he escaped sentence of death, but was outlawed, all his lands and goods were forfeited, and further proceedings were to be taken (ib. cc. 2713–27; Rolls of Parliament, iii. 229–36). An application was made to Pope Urban VI, who in April issued a bull translating him to the see of St. Andrews. Urban's authority was not acknowledged by the Scots, so this translation was illusory, and had merely the same effect as deprivation. Neville ended his days as a parish priest at Louvain, where he died on 16 May 1392, and was buried in the church of the Carmelites in that city. In 1397 he was declared to have been loyal.

[Historians of York, ii. 422–5 (Rolls Ser.); Knighton, cc. 2685–91, 2693–728, ed. Twysden; Vita Ric. II. pp. 77, 84, 89, 97, 100, 106, ed. Hearne; Chron. Angliæ a mon. S. Albani, pp. 374, 379, 382, 384, 386 (Rolls Ser.); T. Walsingham, ii. 152, 163, 164, 166, 172, 179 (Rolls Ser.); Rolls of Parl. iii. 229–36; Fabric Rolls of York, pp. 13, 187 (Surtees Soc.); Le Neve's Fasti, ed. Hardy, iii. 107, 174, 303; Drake's Eboracum, pp. 435, 436; Stubbs's Const. Hist. ed. 1875, ii. 470, 476–81.]

W. H.