Authorised form of nameNeile; Sir; Paul (1613 - 1686); courtier and patron of science
Other forms of surnameNeale
Dates1613 - 1686
Place of birthWestminster, London, England, Europe
Date of birthc.1613
Place of deathLondon, England, Europe
Dates and placesBaptism:
St Margaret's, Westminster, London, England, Europe (11 May 1613)
Research fieldOptics
Pembroke College, Cambridge (admitted 1627; BA 1631)
Indicted for manslaughter (1636) but his father secured him a royal pardon; MP for Ripon (1640); provided telescopes for Seth Ward's observatory at Wadham College, Oxford, and Gresham College and for diplomatic and royal gifts; Gentleman Usher to the Privy Chamber (1662); Published 'Discourse on cider' in John Evelyn's 'Sylva' (1664); Commissioner for Appeals in Excise; MP for Newark, Nottinghamshire (1673-1677)
Kt 1633
Membership categoryFounder Fellow
Date of election28/11/1660
Royal Society activityRoyal Society roles:
Served on council continuously from the first in 1663 until 1673 and then at intervals until 1678.
Committee and panels:
Committee to consider a way of determining the measure of a degree on earth (1669); Mechanical Committee ; Committee for account audits (1671) ; Involvement with negotations regarding Chelsea College and its sale.
RelationshipsParents: Richard Neile, Archbishop of York (1562-1640) and Dorothy Dacre (d. 1647)
Married: Elizabeth Clarke
Children: William Neile (FRS 1663) and Richard Neile (b. 1640); Elizabeth (b.1637) and Mary (b.1641)
General contextDuring the period of civil war in England, Neile was one of the signatories of the Yorkshire engagement in support of the royalist cause.
In 1670, Neile is listed as one of the original 'adventurers' in the Royal Charter of the Hudson's Bay Company. Charles II granted the charter establishing the Hudson's Bay Company, officially "The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England, trading into Hudson's Bay," on May 2, 1670. The charter aimed to establish a trade monopoly on the Eastern coast of what is now Canada and claimed 1.5 million square kilometres of land inhabited by Inuit and First Nations communities (everything in the Hudson river network of waterways), this grew to eight million square kilometres which was dubbed Rupert's Land. The 'adventurers' and traders employed by the HBC did the work of colonizing and nation-building, such as mapping British Columbia's interior and charting the Arctic coast, almost always with the help of Indigenous guides. The Company's aim was territorial expansion and geographical knowledge as well as resource extraction. The company depended on Indigenous hunters to bring them the furs they sold in Europe and made the Company shareholders very wealthy. This trading relationship was often cordial and mutually beneficial but introduced and advanced the spread of diseases such as smallpox and tuberculosis, to which Indigenous Peoples had no immunity. Attitudes toward Indigenous Peoples grew more disdainful by the mid-1800s, as HBC officials became more comfortable in the region and relied less on Indigenous knowledge. In 1868, the Rupert's Land Act was passed, an agreement to transfer the region from the HBC to the recently confederated states of Canada disregarding the Indigenous Nations' ownership of the land and their resistance to its transfer to a colonial power. The HBC continued to operate as a commercial company and operated some 100 stores in Indigenous communities into the 20th century, setting low prices for furs and high prices for their goods, a process that kept Indigenous consumers in a perpetual state of debt. The HBC remains a transnational company.
Related imagesDiscover a selection of related images in our picture library
Bulloch's Roll; DNB (MP); Venn
G H Turnbull, 'Samuel Hartlib's Influence on the Early History of the Royal Society' in NR 1953 vol 10 pp 101-130
C A Ronan and Sir Harold Hartley, 'Sir Paul Neile, FRS (1613-1686)' in NR 1960 vol 15 pp 159-165
Albert Van Helden, 'Christopher Wren's De Corpore Saturni' in NR 1968 vol 23 pp 213-229
Michael Hunter, 'The Social Bias and Changing Fortunes of an Early Scientific Institution: An Analysis of the Membership of the Royal Society, 1660-1685' in NR 1976-7 vol 31 pp 9-114
J Gribbin, 'The Fellowship', 2005, pp158-160
In index to BR he is given the standard election date ascribed to the original members of Council in R, 22 Apr 1663. He 'was pleased to offer of himself to be entered one of the Society' (JB, 16 October 1661)
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA8265
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
RBO/2i/59'Sir Paul Neile's Discourse of Cider'1663
RBC/2/20'Sir Paul Neiles Discourse of Cyder'1663
RBO/2ii/49'Discourse of Cyder' by Sir Paul Neile1663
DM/5/73E'Experiments and Matters recommended to Mr William Balle'1664
MS/390/50Bond of Sir Paul Neile to the Treasurer of the Royal Society30 November 1674
CLP/8i/5/3Drawing, astronomical observations by the Earl of Sandwich [Edward Montagu]1662
CLP/6/17Paper, 'Observations of Dr Robert Moray, Sir P [Paul] Neil and Dr [Christopher] Wren, made by them in their late excursion into the country' by Robert Moray[1664]
CLP/8i/5/2Drawing, astronomical observations by the Earl of Sandwich [Edward Montagu]1662
DM/5/67'Transactions of the Mechanicall Committee'14 November 1664, 12 May 1665
EL/P1/68Extract of a letter, from Henry Powle to Paul Neilend
DM/5/70Resolution signed by Henry Oldenburg, appointing a Committee of the Royal Society to consider a way of determining the measure of a degree on the earth21 October 1669
LBO/1/6Copy letter from Christopher Wren, Oxford, to Paul Neile1 October 1661
CLP/14i/8aLetter, 'An additional account concerning James Oddy' from Th [Thomas] Bateson to Dr Vavasor22 January 1669
CLP/10iii/4Paper, 'Sir Paul Neile's discourse of cider' by Paul Neile[1663]
EL/W3/2Letter, from Christopher Wren to Paul Neile, dated at Oxford1661
CLP/8i/5Paper, 'Observations in his in voyage to Portugal' by the Earl of Sandwich [Edward Montagu]1662
CLP/8i/5/1Manuscript, 'Observations in his in voyage to Portugal' by the Earl of Sandwich [Edward Montagu]1662
RBO/1/20'Mr Hobbs's [Thomas Hobbes] Proposition To find two meane proportionalls betweene two straight lines Given'1 October 1661
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