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Richard Neville Aldworth-Neville (1717-1793)
Born: 3rd September 1717
Secretary to the Council of Regency
Died: 17th July 1793 at Billingbear Park, Waltham St. Lawrence, Berkshire

Richard Neville of Billingbear and Stanlake Parks in Berkshire was the only son of Richard Aldworth of Stanlake in Hurst, by Catherine, the daughter of Richard Neville of Billingbear in Waltham St. Lawrence. Through his mother, he was descended from Sir Henry Neville (1564-1615) and thus the Lords Bervagenny and Earls of Westmoreland. He assumed the name and arms of Neville in August 1762 when, on the death of the Countess of Portsmouth, widow of his maternal uncle, Henry Neville Grey, esq., he succeeded to the estate of Billingbear. He was educated at Eton and was intimate there with Lord Sandwich, Lord Rochford, Lord Orford, Owen Cambridge and Jacob Bryant. On 12th July 1736, he matriculated at Merton College, Oxford. Instead of finishing his course at Oxford, he travelled abroad. In 1739, he visited Geneva and passed every winter there till 1744, joining other English visitors – John Hervey, Earl of Bristol, William Windham, Benjamin Stillingfleet – in "a common room…[for]…an hour or two after dinner", and taking part in private theatricals, in which he played, among other parts, Macbeth, and Pierrot in pantomime. In 1745, he went to Italy.

At the general election of 1747, Neville became M.P. for Reading. He represented Wallingford from 1754 to 1761 and Tavistock from 1701 to 1768, and again till 1774. He joined the whigs and was very favourably noticed by the Duke of Bedford. He was appointed under-secretary of state for the southern department on 13th February 1718, under Bedford, and held office till his chief's resignation on 12th July 1751. He was also joint-secretary to the council of regency in 1748 and 1750. On 4th September 1762, he became secretary to the British Embassy in Paris. Bedford was acting as British plenipotentiary at the conference then summoned to consider the terms of peace between England and France, and Neville proved of much service. Walpole credits him with causing a delay in the signature of the preliminaries till the capture of the Havannah had become known. Bedford acknowledged, in generous terms, Neville's aid when writing to Egremont, secretary of state, on 10th February 1763, and, by way of reward, Neville was made paymaster of the band of pensioners. On 15th February, he arrived in England with the definitive treaty, which had been signed on the 10th in Paris. The King and Lord Bute received him "most graciously". A few days later, on 23rd February, Rigby wrote to Bedford, "Neville has touched his thousand at the treasury without any deductions; he is in great spirits."

He soon returned to Paris to act as plenipotentiary until the arrival of the Earl of Hertford, Bedford's successor, in May 1763. While at Compiegne in August, Wilkes visited him. King Louis XVI, on taking leave of him, gave him his picture set with diamonds and the Duc de Choiseul treated him with unusual consideration. After his settlement again in England, he took no prominent part in public affairs. He suffered from gout and died at Billingbear, after a lingering illness, on 17th July 1793. By his wife, Magdalen, the daughter of Francis Calendrini, first syndic of Geneva, whom he married in 1748 and who died in 1750, he had two children: a daughter Frances (who became the wife of Francis Jalabert, esq.) and Richard Aldworth, 2nd Baron Braybrooke.

Neville was accomplished and amiable, an affectionate father and, not only a good classical scholar, but well acquainted with French and Italian. Coxe, in the 'Literary Life of Benjamin Stillingfleet,' gives a sonnet addressed to Neville by Stillingfleet, and in the same work, to which Neville himself contributed, there is an engraving of him by Basire.

Edited from Sidney Lee's 'Dictionary of National Biography' (1894)

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