Nevile, Thomas

, dean of Canterbury, and an eminent benefactor to Trinity college, Cambridge, brother to the preceding, was born in Canterbury, to which city his father, who had spent his younger days at court, had, in his declining years, retired. He entered early at Pembroke-hall, Cambridge, of which he was elected a fellow in November 1570. In 1580, he was senior proctor of the university, and in 1582 was presented to the | mastership of Magdalen -college by the then patron of that office, Thomas lord Howard, first earl of Suffolk. In 1587, the queen, to whom he was chaplain, conferred on him the second prebend in the church of Ely, at which time he was also rector of Doddington cum Marchj in the isle of Ely. In 158S, he was elected vice-chancellor of the University, but relinquished the office, in the following year, to Dr. Preston, master of Trinity-hall. While he presided in this station, he took the degree of D. D. During his being vice-chancellor, it is only recorded, that he had occasion to repress the freedoms which two of the university preachers took when speaking in their sermons of the established church.

In 1590, Dr. Nevile was promoted by her majesty to the deanery of Peterborough. In 1592, he joined with the other deans and prebendaries of the late erected churches in a resolution to solicit an act of parliament for the confirmation of their rights. It was necessary, indeed, to check the designs of those who pretended that their revenues arose from concealed lands, and that, therefore, they belonged to the crown: and in resisting these vexations they were supported by archbishop Whitgift. In February 1593, Dr. Nevile quitted the mastership of Magdalen, in consequence of being promoted by her majesty to that of Trinity-college, and in March 1594, resigned the rectory of Doddington, on being presented to that of Teversham near Cambridge.

In 1595, he was concerned in the controversy, which originated at Cambridge, from the public declaration of William Barret, fellow of Caius college, against the doctrine of predestination, and falling from grace. On these points the general persuasion being then favourable to the system of Calvin, Barret was called before some of the heads, and compelled to retract his opinions. The dispute, however, which was referred by both parties to archbishop Whitgift, occasioned the well-known conference of divines at Lambeth, where they agreed on certain propositions, in conformity to Calvin’s principles, commonly called the Lambeth articles. Dr. Nevil, and his brethren, soon after had to complain of Dr. Baro, lady Margaret’s professor of divinity, for maintaining some doctrines respecting universal salvation, diametrically opposite to those of the Lambeth articles in consequence of which | he was removed from his station in the university. (See Baro).

The character of Nevile was now held in such estimation by queen Elizabeth, that, on the death of Dr. Rogers, she promoted him to the deanery of Canterbury, in which he was installed June 28, 1597. On her majesty’s death, he was sent by archbishop Whitgift into Scotland to address her successor, in the name of all the clergy, with assurances of their loyalty and affection. He was also commissioned to inquire what commands his majesty had to enjoin as to causes ecclesiastical; and, at the same time, to recommend the church of England to his favour and protection. To this message James returned an answer, declaring, that he would maintain the government of the church as Elizabeth left it. The king afterwards, when on a visit to Cambridge, in 1615, was entertained at Trinity-college, by Dr. Nevile, who was then much enfeebled by the palsy, and did not long survive the royal visit. He died at Cambridge May 2, 1615, advanced in life, but his age we have not been able to ascertain.

By his munificence to Trinity-college, Dr. Nevile has secured to himself the gratitude and admiration of posterity. He expended more than 3000l. in rebuilding that fine quadrangle, which to this day retains the name of Nevil’s-eourt. He was also a contributor to the library of that college, and a benefactor to East-bridge hospital in his native city. He was not less a generous patron of many scholars who became the ornaments of the succeeding age. He was buried in Canterbury-cathedral, in the ancient chantry in the South aile, which he had fitted up as the burial-place of his family, and which was afterwards called NeviPs chapel. Here he placed a monument to the memory of his father, mother, and uncle; and another was erected to himself: but in 1787, when the cathedral was new paved, the chapel itself was removed, and the monuments, in taking down, almost entirely destroyed. The inscription to the dean only remains, and is placed between two mutilated figures of himself and his elder brother Alexander, in the chapel of the Virgin Mary. 1


Todd’s Account of the Deans of Canterbury.