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Richard & William Neile

Priest and Dean

Richard Neile was Dean of Westminster from 1605-1610 but he has no memorial or portrait at the Abbey, being buried in York Minster. He was the second of many children of Paul Neile, tallow chandler of King Street Westminster (who was buried in St Margaret's Westminster on 16th June 1574) and his wife Sybil (nee Tapping) who married secondly Richard Newell (and was mother of Dr Robert Newell, prebendary of Westminster). In Dr Newell's will he states that Sybil was buried in the great north porch of the Abbey but nothing is recorded in the burial register.

Baptised at St Margaret's on 11th March 1561/2 Richard was educated at Westminster School and Cambridge university. He held various livings and was chaplain to Lord Burghley, Master of the Savoy and Clerk of the Closet.  While at the Abbey he showed great interest in the School and in the preservation of the fabric of the Church. From 1608-1610 he was bishop of Rochester in conjunction with his Westminster office, and later went on to be bishop of Lichfield, of Lincoln, of Durham and of Winchester before being made Archbishop of York in 1622. He died on 31st October 1640. His wife was Dorothy, daughter of Christopher Dacre (died 1647 and buried at St Benet Fink church in London) and their only child was Sir Paul Neile, baptised at St Margarets on 11th May 1613. He married Elizabeth Clarke and was a great patron of science.

Richard's sister Dorothy married William Holmes.

William Neile and Katherine Stopes

Richard's brother William, born about 1560, held various posts at the Abbey including Chapter Clerk from 1607, and was buried in the cloisters in on 23 June 1624. His first wife Katherine (Stopes) and daughter Dorothy were also buried there. No inscriptions now remain for them but the inscription on the plain tablet on the wall of the east cloister (near the Lister tablet) for Katherine was recorded in early guidebooks to the Abbey. This read:

Here lieth the body of Katherine Stopes, the loving wife of William Neile. She was the kind mother of seven children, whom she brought up with her own breasts; her life and behaviour may be a pattern for the age following. She was pretty, without pride, modest without sullenness, a good housewife without curtness, exquisite at her needle, courteous of behaviour and right godly of conversation, whose soul resteth in Jesus Christ, to whom she committed it at her death. Obiit Aug 24 1620. Also by her are buried Mr Roger Parker, a servant to Queen Elizabeth; Dorothy Neile one of her daughters, and Cibell Clarke, her daughter Mildred's daughter.

William's son John by Katherine later became Dean of Ripon and daughter Frances married Dr Edward Burby, Archdeacon of Winchester. His second wife was Joyce Stapleton who survived him and later married Reverend Thomas Harding of Westminster School.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for Richard and his son

Westminster Abbey Muniment Book 7, in the Abbey archives, records events during his time at Westminster

Westminster Abbey Reformed 1540-1640 edited by C.S. Knighton and R. Mortimer, 2003

Richard & William Neile
Westminster Abbey exterior drawing

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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