NEVILL, George (1665-95)

NEVILL, George (1665–95)

suc. fa. 2 June 1666 (a minor) as 12th Bar. ABERGAVENNY (ABERGANY, BERGAVENNY)

Never sat.

b. 21 Apr. 1665, o.s. of George Neville, 11th Bar. Abergavenny (d. 1666), and Mary (d. 1699), da. of Thomas Gifford (1609–39) of Dunton Waylett, Essex. educ. unknown. m. (with £7,500),1 Honora Belasyse (d. 1707), da. of John Belasyse, Bar. Belasyse; s.p. d. 26 Mar. 1695; will 30 July 1694, pr. 29 Mar. 1695.2

Chief larderer at coronation of James II 1685.

Associated with: Birling, Kent, and Eridge, Rotherfield, Suss.

Nevill succeeded to the peerage aged one. Throughout his long minority, his guardianship was exercised by his mother and, following her second marriage, by her husband, the recusant Sir Charles Shelley of Michelgrove. Other members of the family were also closely associated with the Catholic community. Abergavenny’s aunt Elizabeth, dowager Lady Abergavenny, was implicated in the Popish Plot in 1680. An order to arrest her was issued on 11 Nov. 1680 but on 16 Nov. the House learned that she had absconded; a proclamation for her arrest was issued on 27 November. Abergavenny’s cousin Sir John Gifford was noted as being in France in 1695, while another relative, Lady Anne Neville, was abbess of the English Benedictine nuns of Pontoise.3 On 8 Mar. 1670, long before he attained his majority, Abergavenny’s precedence as one of the premier barons of England was challenged by Benjamin Mildmay, 17th Baron Fitzwalter. Fitzwalter’s petition was referred to the Lords while Abergavenny and other peers affected by the claim were represented by Charles Goring, 2nd earl of Norwich. No decision appears to have been made and his successor, George Nevill, was accorded the precedence of the ancient barony, effectively recognizing him as 13th Baron Abergavenny, when he took his seat on 1 May 1695.

As the head of an ancient Catholic noble family, Abergavenny could reasonably have expected to have been preferred under James II, and at the king’s coronation in 1685 he served in the hereditary office of chief larderer, a position that had been refused his uncle, John Nevill, 10th Baron Abergavenny, at the coronation of Charles II. Still underage and presumably unable to satisfy the requirements of the Test Act, Abergavenny did not take his seat in the new Parliament, but the following year he was dispensed from taking the oaths.4 In November 1686 he was granted a warrant for holding a fair and markets at Tunbridge Wells, close to his manor of Eridge.5 Abergavenny’s aunt Elizabeth, dowager Lady Abergavenny, took advantage of the improved conditions for Catholics by bringing an action of scandalum magnatum against several printers for imputing her involvement in the Popish plot.6 The same year Abergavenny, his mother, and his aunt faced a suit in the court of exchequer commenced by Edward and Judith Bathurst concerning rights to timber in woodland at Ryarsh in Kent. Abergavenny denied the allegations but he does not appear to have claimed privilege of peerage, and he lost the case.7

Despite frequent rumours of likely appointments, Abergavenny failed to secure a place of any note. Reports that he was to become treasurer of the household, lord lieutenant of Sussex, and custos rotulorum of Somerset all proved to be inaccurate.8 The Revolution of 1688 utterly destroyed any expectations Abergavenny may have had. He was recorded as missing at a call of the House on 25 Jan. 1689 and on 31 July he was again disturbed by a petition from the Bathursts, seeking permission to pursue sequestration for payment of the award made two years previously, suggesting that the threat of privilege of peerage had been invoked to frustrate the decree. The cause was referred to the committee for privileges but there is no record that it was discussed or adjudicated.

At a call of the House on 31 Mar. 1690, Abergavenny was somewhat curiously listed as ‘under-age’, despite being 24 years old: perhaps a reflection of his relative obscurity. He was well known within the Catholic community, and in October of the same year he was one of the peers nominated by Roger Palmer, earl of Castlemaine [I], to stand bail for him.9 Two years later, Abergavenny was granted a licence to travel beyond five miles from his home for six months. Thomas Bruce, 2nd earl of Ailesbury, mentions a Lady Abergavenny as being resident at Abbeville in 1693, so it is possible that Abergavenny was also abroad at this time.10

On 14 Mar. 1693 Abergavenny presented a petition to the House claiming his privilege as a peer, after a group invaded his bedroom – ostensibly while searching for a highwayman. Abergavenny’s rented lodgings were in a building including a shop where the highwayman was said to have been observed. Witnesses were heard but Abergavenny’s request that the ringleader should be summoned to answer for his actions was rejected.11

Abergavenny composed his will the following year. He died in March 1695 aged just 29. An inventory of his possessions compiled in June 1703 recorded £62 found in his pockets, and possessions at his houses in Bedford Row and Isleworth valued at £416 18s. 1½d. His executors, Benedict Richards and William Guise, also declared profits from his estates in Norfolk and Sussex accrued since his death, and the receipt of the principal and interest on a mortgage from ‘Lord Buckingham’ (probably John Villiers, who styled himself earl of Buckingham from 1687) amounting to £6,851 19s. 11d.12 In his will, Abergavenny bequeathed all his personal estate and the sum of £7,500, part of his wife’s portion (which he had not yet received), to his executors for the payment of his debts. He was buried at St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and succeeded by his Protestant cousin George Nevill as 13th Baron Abergavenny.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/429.
  • 2 Ibid.
  • 3 Burke Dorm. and Extinct Baronetcies; Cath. Rec. Soc. Misc. x. 273.
  • 4 CSP Dom. 1686–7, p. 67.
  • 5 TNA, C 202/71/1; CSP Dom. 1686–7, pp. 280, 297–8.
  • 6 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iii. 159–60.
  • 7 TNA, E 126/15, 181–2, 219.
  • 8 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 42, f. 95; Thynne pprs. 43, ff. 5, 13; Sainty and Bucholz, Royal Household, pt. ii. 2; HMC Downshire, i. 259.
  • 9 HMC Hastings, ii. 220.
  • 10 TNA, PC 2/74; Ailesbury Mems. i. 320.
  • 11 HMC Lords, iv. 390.
  • 12 TNA, PROB 5/1712.