He seems to have qualified as a Barrister of the Inner Temple but it is known that he set out on a career in property management; in 1821 he took a lease on land in Paddington owned by Westminster Abbey.
In 1828, he inherited a substantial amount from his great-uncle, the silversmith Philip Rundell, as reward for giving up a "lucrative profession" to take care of him for thirteen years. With this bequest, Neeld bought the Manor of Grittleton, about seven miles to the north of Chippenham. He spent from 8 March to 30 July 1830 as Member of Parliament for Gatton, a rotten borough with six houses and one elector, but returning two Members which was abolished by the Reform Act of 1832. He married Lady Caroline Ashley Cooper, daughter of the 6th Earl of Shaftesbury on 1 January 1831; however, the marriage did not last for long. This led to a series of legal disputes which ended with Lady Caroline failing to achieve a divorce, but being granted a legal separation. It had been revealed that Neeld already had a daughter by a French woman, and accordingly at his death Neeld had no legitimate heirs.
However, Neeld began the construction of Grittleton Manor in Victorian Gothic revival style, and set about furnishing it with an extensive collection of antiques and paintings. He was also a philanthropist, donating about £12,000 for the construction of a Town Hall for Chippenham, and building houses in Grittleton for his tenants. Another of his commissions was for the building of St Margaret of Antioch Church in Leigh Delamere.
Neeld died on 24 March 1856, causing a by-election in Chippenham, and leaving no legitimate heirs; he willed his property to his brother John. His name is commemorated in the Neeld Hall in Chippenham, as well as a row of cottages in Hendon which was built in 1870.
In Grittleton itself, his name lives on in the name of the village pub, "The Neeld Arms", and in the east window of the church of St Mary the Virgin, accompanied by a plaque stating the window to have been "erected and dedicated by his (18) Friends and Tenants (71)".
Grittleton Manor itself was bought in 1973 and is now Grittleton House School. Neeld's collection of art was split up, some pieces now being in the National Portrait Gallery and some in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
- "Mr Joseph Neeld". Hansard. Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "Ex Libris//Bookplates: December 2007". bookplate-jvarnoso.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "Notable Neelds". notableneelds.com. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- The Annual Biography and Obituary - Google Book Search. books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "Paddington - Manors and Other Estates". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- Unknown (1828). The Annual Biography and obituary for the Year 1828. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. p. 20.
- "Grittleton House - History". www.grittletonhouse.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "Gatton (Surrey) 1660–1832". Hansard. Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "Parishes - Gatton". British History Online. Retrieved 2010-10-14.
- "St Margaret of Antioch, Leigh Delamere". Churches Conservation Trust. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- "Church of St Margaret". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- "Portrait NPG 6365; Philip Rundell". National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "Maternal Affection, sculpture group in marble". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Joseph Neeld
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Ebenezer Fuller Maitland
|Member of Parliament for Chippenham
With: Philip Pusey to 1831
Henry George Boldero 1831–1832
William Fox Talbot 1832–1835
Henry George Boldero from 1835
Robert Parry Nisbet
Henry George Boldero