Neile, Richard, Dd

Neile, Richard, D.D.

an English prelate of considerable note, flourished in the reign of king James I, i.e., some time about the. opening of the 17th century. He was born near the close of the 16th century, and after due educational training became a school-teacher, but afterwards took holy orders, and rapidly rose to positions of influence. He was finally elevated to the episcopate, and successively held the sees of Rochester, Lichfield and Coventry, Lincoln, Durham, and Winchester, and was then made archbishop of York, promotions which are said to have been secured by Neile by most base and unchristian conduct. He was subservient to the interests of king James at the expense of his own manhood, and is generally spoken of as the ecclesiastical courtier of king James's reign. Says Perry (Eccles. Hist. 1:205), "If we were to write down against this prelate all that is deliberately said of him by his metropolitan, archbishop Abbot (Collett's State Trials, volume 2), his character (i.e., Neile's) would be by no means a flattering one." Abbot was bid to beware of him, for that "he was ever and in all things naught. That he did all the worst offices that ever he could, and was still stirring the coals to procure to himself a reputation." "I know not," said another, "what the bishop of Lichfield does among you, but he hath made a shift to be taken for a knave generally with us." Though the friend and ally of Laud, he was yet far his inferior, and Neile is universally spoken of as "neither conspicuous for learning nor for diligence in his office. He did not preach once in twelve years,... but knew how to please both James and Charles. He was one of a class of men of whom the Church of England can never be proud." Archbishop Neile died in 1640. See Perry, Hist. of the Ch. of Eng. 1:191 sq.

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