1614), he made himself prominent by a violent attack upon the commons and a strong declaration of the royal prerogative. The House of Commons, after hot debate, demanded satisfaction from the lords for the aspersions of Neile. The bishop finally apologised with tears, but the commons proceeded to further charges and recriminations which were silenced only by the dissolution of parliament. James's favour was not alienated. Neile attended the king in his progress to Scotland in 1617, and on his return was translated to Durham (9 Oct.). ‘He presently set himself,’ says Heylyn (Cyprianus Anglicus, p. 74), ‘on work to repair the palaces and houses belonging to it which he had found in great decay; but he so adorned and beautified them in a very short space, that they that saw them could not think that they were the same.’ He pulled down part of the great hall in the castle of Durham (Wood, ii. 731). ‘But that which gave him most content was his palace of Durham House in the Strand, not only because it afforded him convenient room for his retinue, but because it was large enough to allow sufficient quarters for Buckeridge, bishop of Rochester, and Laud, dean of Gloucester, which he enjoyed when he was bishop of St. David's also; some other quarters were reserved for his old servant, Doctor Linsell, and others for such learned men of his acquaintance as came from time to time to attend upon him, insomuch that it passed commonly by the name of Durham College’ (Heylyn, Cyprianus; see also Laud, Works, iii. 177). The affairs of the north kept him fully employed, but he attended the trial of Bacon, when he spoke against depriving the fallen chancellor of his peerage. In the northern province his political activity was considerable. He corresponded constantly with Secretary Conway on the defence of the coast, the train bands, fortifications, ammunition, ordnance, and protection of fisheries (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 27 Oct. 1625, 5 Aug. 1626).
From the end of 1625 the French ambassador resided in Durham House (ib. 31 Dec. 1625), and the riot that occurred when the king endeavoured to arrest the English Romanists attending mass in his chapel was only stayed by the personal intervention of Neile (see Gardiner, Hist. of England, vi. 70–1). At the end of April 1627 he was sworn of the privy council. On 9 Oct. in the same year he was placed on the commission appointed to exercise archiepiscopal jurisdiction during the sequestration of Abbot (Cal. of State Papers, Dom.) On 10 Dec. he was elected bishop of Winchester, was confirmed on 7 Feb., and received the temporalities on 19 Feb. 1628 (ib.) Neile was now recognised as one of the most prominent members of the party of which Laud was the admitted leader (ib. August 1628; Laud, Works, vi. 301), and complaints against him were made in parliament (February 1629). A patron of John Cosin [q. v.] and Richard Montagu [q. v.], as well as of Laud, he was an uncompromising churchman and disciplinarian. The commons declared that he silenced all opposition to popery, and in the debate on the pardons to Montagu, Cosin, and Sibthorpe his conduct furnished Oliver Cromwell with the subject of his first speech in the house. On 13 June the commons voted ‘that Dr. Neile, Bishop of Winchester, and Dr. Laud, Bishop of Bath and Wells, be named to be those near about the king who are suspected to be Arminians, and that they are justly suspected to be unsound in their opinions that way.’ His defence was based on the Anglican theory which found so little favour in the commons, but he was careful to purge himself from all suspicion of popery by severity towards recusants (Cal. of State Papers, Dom. passim).
Neile regularly sat on the high commission and in the Star-chamber. In the case of Leighton (1630, Star-chamber) he argued in favour of the divine right of episcopacy (cf. Gardiner, Cases in the Courts, &c., Camd. Soc.; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. passim). His commission was from the Holy Spirit. ‘If he could not make that good, he would fling his rochet and all the rest from his back’ (Leighton, Epitome, p. 75).
On 5 Jan. 1631 he was put on the commission for inquiring into the execution of the laws concerning the relief of the poor, the binding of apprentices, &c., and on 10 April on that for the repair of St. Paul's Cathedral. On 28 Feb. he was elected to the archbishopric of York, vacant by the death of Harsnet. The royal assent to the election was given on 3 March, the confirmation took place on 19 March, and the enthronement on 16 April (Le Neve; Cal. of State Papers). On 24 Nov. 1633 he took part in the baptism of James, duke of York. In 1635 he vindicated the right of the archbishops of York to visit Queen's College, Oxford, as against the claim of Laud.
In January 1633–4 he sent to the king a long report of the state of church affairs in his diocese and province (ib. with the king's notes). He had found the dioceses of Carlisle and Chester to have very widely departed from the practice of uniformity, many of the ministers ‘chopping, changing, altering, omitting, and adding at their pleasure, and