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Richard Nelthorpe's Article in the British
Dictionary of National Biography

Oxford University Press © 1997

Nelthorpe, Richard d. 1685

Name: Nelthorpe, Richard
Dates: d. 1685
Active Date: 1665
Gender: Male

Field of Interest: Anti-establishment
Occupation: Conspirator
Place of
   Education: Gray's Inn
   Death: Before the gate of Gray's Inn
Spouse: See text
Sources: Bramston's Autobiography (Camd. Soc.), p.209; Macaulay's Works...
Contributor: G. G. [GORDON GOODWIN]


Nelthorpe, Richard d. 1685, conspirator, was son of James Nelthorpe of Charterhouse, London. On 7 Dec. 1669 he was admitted of Gray's Inn (Register, ed. Foster, p. 308). He was concerned in the Rye House plot, and upon its failure escaped with a brother lawyer, Nathaniel Wade, to Scarborough, whence they took ship to Rotterdam, and arrived at Amsterdam at the end of June 1683. His chambers in the Temple, together with those of his associate, Richard Goodenough [q.v.], were on 20 June rigorously searched, but without result (Hist. MSS. Comm. App. v. vol. ii. p. 55). Finding that the States-General had resolved to arrest them, they fled to Vevay in Switzerland, and were kindly received by Edmund Ludlow [q.v.] (WADE'S ‘Confession’ in Harl. MS. 6845, ff. 268 b-9). Meanwhile, a reward of 100l. was offered by royal proclamation for Nelthorpe's apprehension, and on 12 July the grand jury found a true bill against him (LUTTRELL, Brief Relation, i. 262, 273). He was accordingly outlawed. A staunch protestant, Nelthorpe became an adherent of the Duke of Monmouth, and landed with him at Lyme in 1685. After the battle of Sedgemoor he was sheltered by Alice Lisle [q.v.] at her house in Hampshire, but his hiding-place was betrayed by one Barter. He was examined on 9 Aug., refused to divulge anything of moment (Lansd. MS. 1152 A., f. 301), and in consequence was subjected to such rigorous treatment that he temporarily lost his reason. He was executed under his old outlawry before the gate of Gray's Inn, on 30 Oct. 1685, and died with composure (LUTTRELL, i. 362). Jeffreys would have spared him for a bribe of 10,000l., but Nelthorpe refused to save his life by depriving his children of their fortunes (Gent. Mag. 1866, pt. i. p. 126). In the next reign his attainder was reversed (LUTTRELL, i. 542). Nelthorpe left a widow and five children. He is described as a ‘tall, thin, black man.'


Bramston's Autobiography (Camd. Soc.), p. 209; Macaulay's Works, 1866, i. 496-8; State Trials (Howell), xi. 350; Western Martyrology (3rd edit. 1689, pp. 180-7), which contains his letters to his relatives and children.

Contributor G. G.


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