General John Neville

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General John Neville

Birthdate: (72)
Birthplace: Abington Parrish, Gloucester, Province of Virginia
Death: July 29, 1803 (72)
Neville Island, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Joseph Neville, Sr. and Ann Neville
Husband of Winifred Neville
Father of Colonel Presley Neville; Susannah Neville and Amelia Craig
Brother of Mary Ann Dodson; Brigadier General Joseph Neville; Nancy Anne O'Bannon; Benjamin Neville; Capt. William Neville and 6 others
Half brother of James Neville; George Neville and Mary Jackman

Occupation: General, soldier
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About General John Neville

A Patriot of the American Revolution for VIRGINIA with the rank of BRIGADIER GENERAL. DAR Ancestor # A082521


General John Neville was a commandant of Fort Pitt. He was a man of wealth and education. John Neville was an American military officer, land speculator, and state official who served in the American Revolutionary War and, as a tax collector, was a central figure in the Whiskey Rebellion. He was the father of Presley Neville.

Woodville, the John and Presley Neville house, is Southwestern Pennsylvania’s principal link to the late 18th century, interpreting the time period of 1780-1820 and documenting the lives of the three families that resided there, the Nevilles (1775-1815), the Cowans (1815-1835), and the Wrenshalls (1835-1975).

John and Winifred Oldham Neville’s home was deemed “a temple of hospitality.


On August 7, 1775, the Provincial "Convention of Virginia" ordered him to march with his company and take possession of Fort Pitt. On December 23, 1776, he was appointed a "justice" of Yohogania County Court, but considering the distracted state of the country, occasioned by the boundary dispute and his position as commandant at Ft. Pitt, he declined the position. Appointed Lieutenant Colonel November 12, 1776 he was ordered to join Washington's Army. Promoted to Colonel in 1777, Brigadier General in 1783. Subsequent to the "revolution", he was a member of the Board of Property, and of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, and of the Pennsylvania Convention which formed the Constitution of PA. in 1789-90. In 1791 at the request of the President and the Secretary of the Treasury, he accepted the appointment of "Inspector of the Revenue" in the Fourth Survey of the District of PA., for the collection of the whiskey Tax in Western PA. (1792-95) which he held until after the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1774 and the establishment of the supremacy of the laws of the United States. He was appointed Federal Agent, at Pittsburgh, for the sale of public lands, under the act of Congress passed May 18,1796, entitled "an act for the sale of lands of the United States in the Territory northwest of the Ohio, etc." During later years he lived on his estate on Montour Island, near Pittsburgh where he entertained visitors of note including Louis Philippe, the Duc D'Orleans (King of France 1830-48) and his two brothers the Duc de Montpensier and the Count de Beaujolais. He died on Montour's Island, now Neville Township, Allegheny County, PA. on July 29, 1803, and was buried in the First Presbyterian Churchyard, Pittsburgh. The inscription on his tombstone (now most probably illegible) was as follows: "In memory of General John Neville, who departed this life July 29, 1803, aged 72 years and 3 days. During his long life, he filled many important offices, both Civil and Military. In the former, he was virtuous and disinterested. In the latter, he was patriotic and brave. He enjoyed the friendship and confidence of the illustrious Washington. The day of his death witness and most pleasing tribute that can be paid to the memory of a mortal, the sincere regrets of his friends and the tears of the neighboring poor."

General John Neville.

Documentation: Beckley Public Library

Notes & family history by Ruth Beckley.

Married Winifred Oldham on 24 Aug 1754.

General John Neville (originally spelled Nevill) was a member of St. Lukes church at the time of the Whiskey Rebellion. Prior to his appointment as federal tax collector he was a popular figure in western Pennsylvania, expressing opposition to the Commonwealth's whiskey excise tax, and initially opposing the federal version. But when his childhood friend, George Washington, appointed him collector of federal revenue for the western survey, his neighbors were first stunned, then outraged. When asked if he had no concern for his reputation, it is said that Neville replied that he "had no regard for (his neighbors') opinions," and that he had "an independent salary of 600 (is quoted variously) per year." Like many of the stories of the Whiskey Rebellion this one is hearsay. But Neville was not without his supporters and friends. He was reported to be generous to the poor and a loyal family man. When Neville died in 1803 he was buried at Trinity Church Burial Ground. In 1900 he was exhumed and moved to Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh. The following is a ledger from the Craig-Neville plot in Section 11.

From an on-line article:

Brigadier General John Neville

John Neville was born in Prince William (now Fauquier) County, Virginia, on July 26, 1731. His father was Joseph Neville, Sr., and his mother was Elizabeth Bohannan.

In 1754 he married Winifred Oldham (1736-1797), and that same year, he served with George Washington in the ill-fated campaign against the French at Jumonville. This defeat at Ft. Necessity marked the beginning of the French and Indian War, and later, in Europe.

In 1755 he served under General Edward Braddock in the unsuccessful attack on Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh). Presley Neville was born in 1755 at the family home in Winchester, Virginia. There John became a landowner, a Justice of the peace and sheriff of Frederick County, and Vestryman of the Episcopal Church. Amelia was also born in Winchester, in 1763. Three daughters did not survive. Presley graduated in 1775 from the University of Pennsylvania with high honors in French classics.

The Virginia Provincial Council set John to command Ft. Dunmore (Pitt) in 1775. The dispute between Virginia and Pennsylvania over boundary lines was settled in 1777. He remained there until 1777, when, as a colonel of the Fourth Virginia Regiment, he served at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Germantown and Monmouth (and Valley Forge?). Presley served as Marquis Lafayette's aide-de-camp for two years. Both John and Presley were captured in the Battle of Charleston in 1780. Following his release in 1782, Presley married Nancy Morgan, daughter of General Daniel Morgan.

In 1783 John was brevetted a Brigadier General by the Continental Congress, and he was elected to the Superior Executive Council of Pennsylvania.

Since there was no church structure for the Episcopal congregation, a frame church was erected in 1790 on William Lea's Kings-grant land, supported by the Neville family and other neighbors. Neville also sponsored the seminary education of Francis Reno in nearby Canonsburg, which led to Reno's ordination in 1791, and his call to be the first resident Episcopal priest at St. Luke's Church.

John Neville was called by President George Washington to be Inspector of Revenue for this district, to demonstrate that the excise tax on distilled spirits initiated in 1791 by Alexander Hamilton could be collected somewhere west of the Allegheny Mountains. Because frontier churches were also community meeting places, perhaps St. Luke's Church was a meeting place for Federalist supporters, "The Friends of Order." The anti-Federalists, "The Friends of Liberty," largely Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, did utilize Mingo Creek Presbyterian Church for their meetings.

In 1794, Neville was rebuffed by irate farmers on Tuesday, July 15 when he and Marshal David Lenox tried to arrest William Miller. Angry farmers on July 16 challenged Neville to resign his commission and destroy all tax records. Young Oliver Miller was killed. On Thursday, July 17, 500 Anti-Federalist farmers attack Neville's mansion, named Bower Hill, and after their leader, Major James McFarlane was killed, the mansion was burned down. This insurrection is called the Whiskey Rebellion. Neville and other plantation owners in the Chartiers Valley moved away. Neville went to Pittsburgh and to Montour's Island in the Ohio River, which he renamed Neville's Island

John Neville died July 29, 1803. He and Winifred (1797) were buried in the burial ground at Trinity Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh. In 1900, their graves were moved to Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, due to commercial development in the city.


1731 - 1803

By Rev. Richard W. Davies


It is appropriate to observe the milestone anniversaries of the living and the dead. this is the privilege of history. We take note in 2003 of the 200th anniversary of the death of an early member of Old St. Luke's Church.

John Neville was born in Price William (now Fauquier) County, Virginia, July 26, 1731. In 1755 he married Winifred Oldham, just before he served with George Washington in the skirmish against the French, at the location today named Jumonville, just north of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. This was the beginning of the French and Indian War. He then served under Gen. Edward Braddock in the unsuccessful attack against the French at Fort Duquesne. In 1755, Winifred gave birth to a son, Presley, in the family home in Winchester, Virginia.

In Winchester, as a neighbor of George Washington, John began his dream of being a significant landowner. He was Justice of the Peace, Sheriff, and a Vestryman of the Episcopal Church. A daughter Amelia was born in 1763, the same year the French and Indian War ended. The Neville family lost three additional female children.

In 1775, the Virginia Provincial Council sent John, then a Colonel, to command Ft. Dunmore, which was the deserted Ft. Pitt, and renamed by Governor Dunmore to honor himself. Neville built the first log house beside Chartiers Creek, naming it Woodville. He remained at the Fort until 1777. John and his son Presley served in the American Revolution until being captured in 1780. The Woodville residence was expanded in 1781.

In 1783, John was brevetted Brigadier General by the Continental Congress. He served in the Superior Executive Council of Pennsylvania. By Virginia Certificate, John owned 400 acres at Woodville. He represented Washington County to ratify the U.S. Constitution. In 1787, the Church of England was reconstituted in the new United States as the Episcopal Church. The mansion at Bower Hill was built. John was a neighbor of the Col. William Lea family. We believe that the Lea and Neville families held Christian devotions in each other's homes. In 1790, they led the call to build a frame church on Lea's land, named St. Luke's, and with a resident clergyman.

In 1794, Washington called Neville to be the Inspector of Revenue and to collect the excise tax on distilled spirits. The result was the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion, and hatred was heaped on Neville by anti-federalists farmers. Neville moved to Pittsburgh in 1794, and to Neville Island in 1801. Winifred died in 1797. At John's death, July 29, 1803, (click HERE to see his tombstone) he was buried in land donated by John Penn in 1787 as a church site, where the second Trinity Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh was built on Sixth Avenue in 1825. He was moved to Allegheny Cemetery in 1900 when the Oliver Building was built on a portion of the burial ground.

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General John Neville's Timeline

July 26, 1731
Abington Parrish, Gloucester, Province of Virginia
September 6, 1755
Age 24
Winchester, Fredericks, Province of Virginia
October 9, 1759
Age 28
Winchester, Fredericks, PA, United States
April 4, 1763
Age 31
Winchester, Fredericks County, Province of Virginia
July 29, 1803
Age 72
Neville Island, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States