Peter Le Neve 1661-1729

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Peter LE NEVE 1661-1729

Biographical Note

Born in London, son of Francis Neve, upholsterer. Matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge 1677, but did not graduate; admitted at the Middle Temple 1679. Deputy Chamberlain of the Exchequer 1684, Rouge Croix pursuivant at the College of Arms 1690, Richmond Herald 1704, Norroy King of Arms later the same year. In 1711 he succeeded to the estate of his elder brother at Great Witchingham, Norfolk. In 1707 he was part of the group of historians who went on to found the Society of Antiquaries in 1717; he was its first President. His unitarian faith led him to being accused of atheism.


Le Neve assembled a significant library with extensive heraldic collections, particularly relating to Norfolk and Suffolk. In 1703 he bought the manuscripts of Sir Thomas St George, Garter King of Arms. He intended to bequeath many of his collections to the College of Arms, but his will was not sufficiently specific, and most of his library was auctioned in London, beginning 22 February 1731. The sale included over 2000 printed books and 1252 manuscript lots (including many from St George). His widow Frances married his executor the antiquary Thomas Martin, who separated out and kept the manuscripts relating to Norfolk and Suffolk.