[Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, vol. 25, pp. 1-47 (1920)
Electronic text and additional notes kindly provided by David Hepworth
HTML version by Chris Phillips]


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The early history of the Saviles1 is clouded in mystery. In the Elizabethan times when every family wished to trace their origin as far back as possible the genealogists tried to claim a descent from the Savelli, an Italian family. This idea cannot be entertained. Mr. Joseph Hunter, F.S.A., says, "The family, like others of those which are now accounted the best and most ancient families in Eng­land, began early with small possessions, probably in the parish of Silkstone."

There are no complete printed pedigrees of this great family, which has occupied a large place in the West Riding history, except the one in Foster's Yorkshire Families. That is in the pedigree form which allows so little space for many details. Mr. Hunter, who seems to have taken great interest in the family, has, in South Yorkshire, given several of the branches: that of the main line of Elland, Tankersley, Thornhill, in vol. i, 300; that of Newhall in vol. i, 67; that of Thribergh in vol. i, 46; and that of Mexborough in vol. ii, 393. There are also sketch pedigrees in Watson's Halifax, and in the Heralds' Visitations.2

Since these have been printed much additional information has been obtained. We have the Wills at York and London, which are more accessible by the indexes in the Yorkshire Record Series, the Inquisitions at the Record Office, the parish registers at Elland, Halifax, Batley, Horbury, Dewsbury, Wakefield, etc., which can be better examined, so it seems possible to throw more

1 There, are various ways of spelling the name Savile, Savill, Seyvill, Seyville.
2 There is also information in Mr. Hunter’s charming Antiquarian Notices of Lupset and Hallamshire, Sheard’s Batley, Cooper’s Savile Correspondence, Foxcroft’s Life of the Marquis of Halifax, Dictionary of National Biography.


light on this family, and the works of Hunter are costly and scarce, and there are few dates in Watson and in the Visitations, so that perhaps the following paper may be useful to the readers of The Journal.

The earliest printed notices we have of the Saviles appear to be as follows:-

1225 (9 Henry III). John de Dewsbury and Odo de Richmond granted to Henry de Seyvill, our parishioner, a chantry in the chapel of Guthlaker (Chadwick's Notes on Dewsbury Church, 26).

1251-2 (36 Henry III), Assize Rolls. Sir John de Seyvill sum­moned concerning a messuage in Pontefract (Record Series, xliv, 60).

1274-1307. Wakefield Court Rolls. Baldwin de Seyville and his three sons, William, John, Hugh, are mentioned without place of abode.

1286 (Edw. I), 20 July. Lunacy Inquisition of Peter de Seyvell at the Record Office.

Inq. Petri de Seyvell taken before Thos. de Normenvill at York pursuant to a writ dated 20 July, 14 Edw. I (1286). Peter de Seyvill is clearly mad and an idiot, incapable of managing his land. He holds the manor of Goullackarres, viz. three fourth parts of the inheritance of Ric. le Botiler of Sandale, and the fourth part of Sir John de Heton for a service of 3d. yearly. The manor is worth £8 yearly. Thereof Peter gave to Agnes de Seyvell, his sister, one mill worth 30s. yearly 4 years ago when he was insane. Peter holds in Skelebrok 3½ oxgangs of land from Sir Ran. de Blamustre for the service of 10s. yearly; it is worth 46s. 8d. yearly; he demised this land to Robert son of Stephen de Kirkeby for 20 years at a rent of 26s. 8d., of which term 8 years are elapsed. The same Peter holds in Smetheton one messuage and 4 oxgangs of land of the Earl of Lincoln by suit of court at Pontefract every three weeks, worth £4 yearly, none of it is alienated except that Peter while sane demised the land to William Seyvill, his uncle, for 14 years, whereof 7 are elapsed; in Thurleston 42s. of rent of assize from the heir of Hoderode, whereof nothing is alienated; in Holdeham 60 shillingsworth of land from the heir of Roger de Wamwell which he demised while sane to John de Wamwell for 20 years, whereof 6 are elapsed, for a sum of money beforehand and 4 marks yearly. The execution of the writ was delayed owing to John de Dychton to whom the escheator had committed the custody of the said Peter and his land being unequal to the management and also weak (who has to wife Pleasance Peter's sister).


1338 (Edw. III). Yorkshire Fines. Adam son of John de Sayvill mentioned.

1353-4 (Edw. III), 1372 (Edw. III). John Sayville of Eland and Isabel his wife, John son, and Henry his brother regarding the manors of Eland and Tankersley.

1377, 1 Mar. (51 Edw. III). Will. Henry Sayuill. To be buried in the chapel of the blessed Marie of Hoderfeld. To John my son xli. To Johan my daughter x marks. To Alice my daughter x marks. If any residue among my children. I make Thomas and John my sons executors (Reg. Alex. Nevell, i, 23).

There have been many attempts at bringing the early accounts of the family into proper order by the heralds and other authorities, some of which are as follows, but they are all incorrect and not worth reprinting:-

Flower's Visitation, taken 1563 and 1564 (Harleian Soc., xvi). Glover's Visitation, taken 1584 and 1585, edited by Joseph Foster. Whitaker's Loidis and Elmete, no authority given. Foster's York­shire Families, no authority given. Watson's History of Halifax, which is often quoted and is very amusing.

He says "it is a family of great antiquity supposed to be de­scended from the Sabelli or Savelli of Rome. Some were consuls at Rome before our Saviour's time, and it is said to have existed for 3,000 years. The first I meet with is Sir John Savile of Savile Hall, Dodworth, who married a daughter of Syr Symon de Rockley, by her he had Sir Walter and John. Sir Walter married a daughter of Adam Everingham of Stainborough, by whom a daughter Elizabeth mar­ried to Sir John Everingham. John, brother of Sir Walter, married about 1240 Agnes daughter and heir of Sir Roger Aldwark, and by her had Henry, who married Agnes daughter and heiress of John Golcar of Golcar, by whom Thomas, who married .... daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Tankersley of Tankersley, by whom Sir John, Henry, and Alice wife of .... Lockwood. Sir John of Tankersley married Agnes daughter and heiress of .... Rochdale, by whom he had John of Tankersley (Peter by Foster), Elizabeth wife of Thomas Kay, and Margery wife of John Thornton. John Savile of Tankersley married Isabel daughter of Sir Robert Latham, by whom Sir John and Jane wife of .... Ashton of Lancashire. Sir John married Jane daughter of Mathew de Bosco (or Wood), by whom John and Margaret, Prioress of Kirklees 32 Edw. III (1358-9). Sir John married Margery daughter of Henry Rushworth of Rushworth, by whom Sir John Savile, who married Isabel de Eland."


Watson, of course, is quite wrong, as Tankersley did not come to the Saviles till the Eland marriage.

The best account appears to be in the "Autobiography of Sir John Savile," Baron of the exchequer, copied in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, xv, 421, where he states that his ancestor, Henry Savile of Copley, was a younger son of Henry Savile of Thornhill, brother of John Savile, Kt., and cousin and heir of Isabell the sister and heiress of John Savile, who was the son and heir of the aforesaid John Savile, who was the son of Sir John Savile, Kt., who was son of John Savile and Margaret his wife, daughter of Henry Rishworth.

Notwithstanding all these various accounts, we can only say that the Saviles originally started with lands in Shelley and Golcar, near Huddersfield, which they might have obtained through an heiress, as they quartered the Golcar arms, but that, of course, may have been an after-consideration. Their real rise was by for­tunate marriages with heiresses. The first one with the Eland heiress brought in the Elland and Tankersley manors, and soon after the great Thornhill property came in. All these estates still remain to the present owner.

It seems impossible to start the pedigree properly before the Rishworth marriage, till there is more information, which can only probably be obtained if there are some early deeds at Rufford,1 which have never been properly examined. We therefore propose in this paper to begin with Sir John de Savile who married Margery de Rishworth as follows.


I. SIR JOHN DE SAVILE, Knt., of Golcar and of Rishworth, by his marriage; mar. Margery, daughter and coheir of Henry de Rishworth, of Rishworth2; probably dead in 1337. They had issue -

II. SIR JOHN DE SAVILE; did homage 1337; dead 1353; mar. Margerie. They had issue-

1 I believe that Mr. W. Paley Baildon has the offer of looking at the deeds at Rufford, and if he succeeds in finding anything important that he will bring it forward at a future date.
2 All the authorities agree about this match, but it is a pity we have no dates. This marriage took place certainly before 1306 and probably in 1300. The other coheirs were Ellen, wife of Thos. de Langfield, and Isabel, wife of John de Insula. The general account is that his son mar­ried Isabel de Eland, but Mr. Baildon is confident there must have been a genera­tion between. The Rishworth property has always been held by the family, and the moors there still afford much sport of grouse to the present lord.


III. SIR JOHN SAVILE, Knt., of Golcar and of Elland and Tankersley, by his marriage; was High Sheriff of York­shire 1380-83-88; Knight of the Shire 1375-82-84-89.

He founded a chantry at Elland church by licence, 10 July, 1396, to pray for John, Duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster, Sir John Sayvill and Isabella his wife and their children, Henry, late Earl of Lancaster, John Sayvill and Margaret his wife, the parents of the said Sir John, Thomas de Eland and Joan his wife, parents of the said Isabella (Chantry Surveys, Surtees Soc., ii, 298).1 Inq. ad quod damnum, file 436, no. 36.

Will. - 2No date, proved 23 Sept., 1399 (Reg. Scrope, 157); he desires to be buried at Elland; he gives many legacies to sundry people, to his tenants at Golcar and Tankersley, and only mentions John Savile of Shelley, who was executor and proved his will.

There seems no Inquisition. Mar. Isabel, daughter of Thomas de Eland, Esq., of Elland and Tankersley, before 1353, which manors she brought.

1399. Nov. 17, in the chapel within the manor of Newstead, near the Priory of St. Oswald's of Nostell, William, Bishop of Pharos, the suffragan of the archbishop, received the vow of chastity of Isabella, widow of Sir John Saville, knt., and gave her the ring and mantle (Reg. Scrope, 21a).

They had issue -

IV. HENRY SAVILE, ESQ., of Elland and of Thornhill, by his marriage; died 1412 (Hunter); mar. Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Simon, son and heir of Sir Brian Thornhill, Knt., of Thornhill. They had issue -

1 In the same Chantry Surveys, p. 292, Sir John Savile is said to have founded a chantry at Thornhill with rents of lands "in Brigehowse by will xmo Decembris, Edward iiij, xxmo." This is not in, nor agrees with, he above will.
2 Mr. E. W. Crossley found this long Latin will at York, and copied it in Halifax Wills, ii, 216, but nothing further relating to the Savile family is in his extract.


V. SIR THOMAS SAVILE, Knt., of Thornhill, and heir to his cousin, Isabel Darcy, to Elland and Tankersley, etc.; M.P. Yorkshire 1439.

Will. - In the feast of St. Edmund, Archbp. of Canterbury, after the feast of St. Martin in Winter, 1449, I, Thomas Savyll, knight, sound of mind, make my testament. First I bequeath my soul to God, the Blessed Mary, and St. Michael and all Saints, and my body to be buried in the parish church of Thornhill near the grave of Margaret my wife. I bequeath for my mortuary my best horse with the better trappings; to the church of Thornhill one suit of vestments, viz. for priest, deacon and subdeacon, of yellow cloth, with a cap; to the fabric and repair of the bridge of Horbery xls.; to each order of Friars, viz. to the Friars of Pontefract xiiis. viiid., and to the Friars of Tikhill vis. viiid., and to the Carmelites of Doncaster vis. viiid.; and to the Friars Minors of Doncaster vis. viiid.; to the house of St. Robert of Knaresburgh with my land iiis. iiiid. I bequeath to buy a table for the high altar xls., to the light before the crucifix xls., for my funeral and burial and to make a tomb over me and my wife iiii marcs, for a chaplain to celebrate for me, my wife and ancestors in the church of Thornhill1 on the altar of St. Mary near my tomb for vi years after my decease xxiiiid.; to the Recluse at Beston iiis. iiiid. The residue I bequeath to my son and heir John, knight, whom I constitute my executor. Proved by John Netiltown and Richard Whitley, 16th December, A.D., abovesaid, at York (Reg. Test., ii, 204).

Mar. Margaret, daughter of Sir John Pilkington, Knt., of Bradley; bur. at Thornhill. They had issue -

VI. SIR JOHN SAVILE, Knt., of Thornhill, Elland, etc.; High Sheriff of Yorkshire 1455 and 1461; M.P. Yorkshire 1450, 1467. Mr. Hunter says "he was chief steward of the manor of Wakefield, connected with which office was the custody of the castle of Sandal. The castle thus became his occa­sional residence, where he died on the morrow of the feast of St. Basil, 1482. He was carried through Wakefield and sumptuously buried at Thornhill."

1 Dodsworth says there was the fol­lowing inscription: "Orate pro anima Thome Sayvill, militis, qui hanc capellam fieri fecit ..... anno Domini 1447."


Will. - Nov. 23, 1481. Johannes Savile, miles. Corpus meum loco sepulturæ patris in eccl. St. Mich. de Thornhill. Margaretæ Savile, filiæ meæ, xlli. Lego ad distribuendum inter servientes meos secundum eorum merita et servitia, xli. Johanni Savile pro le heirelomes, j lectum pendentem cum pertin., j librum vocatum Missale, cum calice et vestimento, cum pannis ornamentis altari pertinentibus, j craterem argenti stantem et coopertum, j craterem stantem et deauratum cum quibusdam signis argenti, j mappam cum tuello, j salsarium argenti et coopertum, j par de awndeirenes, cum tabulis et formis, tristellis, et cathedris, ij ollas ænneas, j stantem in le fournes, aliam sine fournes, j patellam, j pelvim cum lavacro de masselyn, ij veruta ferrea, vj cocliaria argenti, ij plumba, et iij le worteledes, j maskefat, j gilefat, j stepefat cum cæteris vasis ligneis pandoxatorio pertinentibus, j cilicium j plaustrum j aratrum cum cultura et vomere, ij herpicas. Item Willelmo Savile, filio meo, xx marcas. Thomæ Savile, filio meo, xx marcas. Henrico Savile, filio meo, xls. Ricardo Savile, filio meo, xls. Nicholao Savile, filio meo, xls.

(As to estates, in English.) Wife Alice, if she survives me, to have for her life the manor called Bothamhall and all those lands, etc., in Risshworth and Goulkery which Thos. Savile, knt., my father, by his deed gave to me and Alice my wife at our marriage. Wife to have also for life the capital mes­suage of Coldeby with the lands thereto belonging in the Isle of Axholme, and lands in Estrington and in Thurleston in the parish of Penyston, which the said Thos. Savile, knt., by his deed gave to us after our marriage. Wife to have also for life the manor of Thornhill and lands in Ovenden, Waddesworth and Skircoittes, which Wm. Gascoigne, knt., and others granted to me and Alice my wife by deed dated 1 July, 28 Hen. VI. My feoffees to grant by deed, with power of distress on non-payment, to my son Henry an annual rent of £4 out of the manor of Hundesworth for his life. And like annuities to my sons Richard and Nicholas. And to my son, William Savile, a moiety of the manor of Hundesworth in tail male, with remainder to his brother Thomas. And to my son, Thomas Savile, the other moiety of the said manor in tail male, with remainder to his brother Wm. And after the death of the said Henry, Nicholas, and Richard, the said William and Thomas Savile to have the said manor free from the said annuities. After wife's death my feoffees to convey all my lands, etc., to my right heirs according to my deed. Residue of my goods to wife Alice and son William, extrix. and exor. Witnesses, John Cooke, vicar of Sandall, John Porter, rector of High Holand, and Robt. Chaloner, literate.

Proved June 21, 1482, by widow, power reserved for son William, the other exor. (Reg.Test., v, 66; Halifax Wills, i, p. 21).

Mar. Alice, daughter of Sir William Gascoigne, Knt., of Gawthorp, extrix. of her husband's will. On July 3, William, Bishop of Dromore, was commissioned to veil Alice, widow of Sir John Savile (Reg. Rotherham, 23b). On Jan. 14, 1493-4, Sir John Waterton, Knt., administered