RALPH NEVILLE (d. 1244), bishop of Chichester and chancellor of England, was a member of the great Neville family, but of illegitimate birth. In 1214 he became dean of Lichfield, and obtained several rich livings; and in 1224 he was consecrated bishop of Chichester. In 1226 he was appointed chancellor by the council governing during the minority of Henry III.; and when the king in 1236 demanded the return of the great seal, Neville refused to surrender it, on the ground that only the authority that had appointed him to the office had power to deprive him of it. In 1231 he was chosen archbishop by the monks of Canterbury, but the election was not ratified by the pope. He died in 1244.
Neville's residence in London was a palace in the street opposite the Temple, which from this association obtained the name of Chancery Lane, by which it is still known; while the palace itself, after passing into the hands of Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, was called Lincoln's Inn after that nobleman when it became the abode of students of law. Neville bequeathed this property to the see of Chichester, and the memory of his connexion with the locality is further preserved in the name of a passage leading from Chancery Lane to Lincoln's Inn which still bears the name of Chichester Rents.
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