[Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, vol. 28, pp. 380-419 (1926)
Electronic text and additional notes kindly provided by David Hepworth
HTML version by Chris Phillips]



In Vol. xxv of this Journal my father gave an account of the main line of the Savile family. He had previously dealt with some of the younger branches, including Savile of Copley and Savile of New Hall, in his edition of Dugdale's Visitation. His interests lay for the most part in that period of our history for which the evidence afforded by wills and the parish registers is available; and he did not endeavour to give detailed information about the Savile family before the era of Sir John Savile, who married the Eland heiress in the middle of the fourteenth century. But in the course of his investigations he was in close touch with Mr. Baildon, who for many years had been collecting notes, mainly from the Plea Rolls, with regard to the origin and early generations of this distinguished Yorkshire family; and he was hopeful that Mr. Baildon would in due course publish the result of his researches to form a prologue to his own paper. Mr. Baildon found that the information available was far greater than he had originally anticipated; and the connection with the Butler family was of such interest as to justify a considerable addition to his original scheme. But at the time of his death, in 1924, he had practically finished his task, and the present paper was almost ready for publication in the Journal. He was only waiting, I remember him telling me, for the opportunity of "running through the Assize Rolls of Divers Counties," though he was not sanguine of finding any additional information of material value; and it appears that he was still working on one or two points arising out of the later generations of the Butler pedigree. But the paper is so complete in its present form that its publication will, it is anticipated, not only be welcomed by members of the Society, but will provide an additional memorial to Mr. Baildon's unrivalled powers of research.

The work of editing has been negligible. A few references to printed books left unchecked by Mr. Baildon have been added; some of his loose notes have been inserted in the place for which he


clearly intended them; and the sketch pedigree which accompanies Section II has been compiled from his own unfinished draft. Any footnotes of an editorial kind are inserted in square brackets.

Mr. Baildon bequeathed to the Bradford Public Library his extensive collection of notes on Yorkshire families; and the thanks of the Society are due to the authorities of the Library for their kindness in making this paper available for publication.



The early generations of the Saville pedigree, as given in Wat­son's Halifax, Foster's Yorkshire Pedigrees, and elsewhere, are quite untrustworthy. Many of the persons named are creatures of the imagination, while others are ante-dated or post-dated or otherwise misplaced in the usual reckless manner of Elizabethan pedigree mongers. It would be waste of time and space to point out all the obvious errors; I will only mention two, others are dealt with below. The sixth generation has "Sir John Savile, knt., of Tankersley," and his son, grandson, great-grandson, and great-great-grandson, all Johns, are all described as "of Tankersley." As a matter of fact, the Tankersley property did not come to the Savilles until the marriage of the last-mentioned John with Isabel, the heiress of Thomas de Elland. Henry Saville, said to be the younger brother of this last John, is said to have married Ellen Copley "about 1300"; Ellen was a mere child at her father's death in 1370, and her husband was the son of Henry Saville of Thornhill.

It has frequently, if not generally, been assumed that the name was derived from Saville Hall in Dodworth, and accordingly the old pedigrees start off with "Sir John Savile of Savile Hall."

Whitaker, in his best ex cathedra manner, makes the statement boldly, though giving neither argument nor evidence in support.

"Passing by the fond tradition, which is altogether inconsistent with the grounds of English etymology, that this family are descended from the Savelli of Italy, suffice it to say that they spring from Savile Hall, in Dodworth, near Barnsley, which gave name to them, and not they to it" (Loidis et Elmete, p. 311).

Hunter seems to have leaned to this view, though not saying so in so many words.

"In this township [Dodworth], about half a mile south of the principal vill, is Savile-hall, an antient estate of inheritance lying near the northern branch of the Dove. This estate belonged, in the reigns of Henry III, Edward I and Edward II to a family of the


name of Savile, of whom there was the following instructive deed, among the evidences of Sir Gervase Cutler, at Stainborough" (South Yorkshire, vol. 2, p. 260). Here follows the grant of "Seyvile Hall" made in 1311 by Thomas son of Baldwin de Saville (see below). I cannot accept this view. Saville Hall I take to be the name given to a house by its builders. The practice was not common in the north, whereas in the south very many of the small sub-infeudated manors were called after their owners1; but even in Yorkshire there are several unmistakeable examples, such as Thornhill Hall in Wath upon Dearne, Lascelles Hall in Lepton, Thurnham or Turnham Hall in Cliffe, near Selby, and no doubt others.

Moreover, Saville Hall apparently never belonged to the main line of the family. The first reference to it, so far as any evidence is known, is in the grant just mentioned, and the Thomas de Saville who granted it was the son, and possibly the heir, of Baldwin de Saville, a younger son. If it had ever been the principal seat of the main line, we should expect to find some earlier reference to it.

The series of returns known as the Testa de Nevill, under date 1242-3 (new edition), has an entry which at first sight suggests that there was some place or estate in the Lacy fee called "Seyvill"; we read "Seyvill, tercia pars unius militis" (Part II, p. 1103). The adjoining entries, however, are names of persons, not of places; Richard Foliot precedes and Baldwin Teutonicus follows, which suggests that a Christian name has been omitted. Mr. Farrer accordingly prints the entry thus: "[ - de] Seyvill" (Early Yorks. Charters, vol. 3, p. 401), and he is certainly right.

There is no trace of any ville, hamlet or manor called Saville, or anything which could have become Saville, in Yorkshire or any other county, to be found in any early document, and the form of the name is distinctly French. The theory that there is a connec­tion with the Roman family of Savelli has nothing but the similarity of the name to support it. There can be little doubt that the Savilles settled in England under Henry II, as so many French families did, the Courtenays being a notable example.

Watson's statement on this point is as follows:

"Others suppose them to have come with Geoffry Plantaginet, because there are two towns of this name on the frontiers of Anjou, both which were annexed to the crown of England, when the said Geoffry married Maud, daughter and heiress of Henry I" (Halifax, p. 209).

1 Chequers Court may be instanced, of which we have heard much lately.


This statement has been frequently copied, but without any additional information as to the locality of these "two towns." There are several towns and villages in France which have names approximating to Saville. The official Dictionnaire des Postes et des Télégraphes has five places called Savel, one Saveille, two Sauville, one Savilly, one Sevelle, one Sévielle, and one Sevilly. Most of these are too remote from the sphere of Anglo-Norman influence, and there is no indication, so far as I know, from which of the others the Savilles take their name. Perhaps the most likely are (1) the two villages of Bas and Haut Sévielle, in the Department of Seine et Marne; (2) La Sevelle, in the Department of Eure, but against this is the fact that the family are never called de la Saville; (3) Sevilly, in the Department of Orne; and (4) Sauville, in the Department of Ardennes. Nos. 1 or 3 seem to me the most likely.

Apparently all the deeds relating to the original family proper­ties are lost or destroyed; at any rate they cannot now be found, as Mr. Lipscomb, Lord Savile's agent, has kindly informed me. Those printed in the volumes of Yorkshire Deeds issued in the Record Series refer to later-acquired properties, such as that at Smeaton. This is a great misfortune and a most serious handicap. Fortunately, there was a considerable amount of litigation in the thirteenth century, the records of which have been of great assistance.

One of the chief difficulties lies in the absence of any date of birth by which we can test the generations both up and down. The early Savilles held no lands in chief, and consequently there are no inquisitions to give us the age of an heir; such a document in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century would have been invaluable. The only available inquisition, that on Peter de Saville in 1286, is not post mortem, though it was formerly included in that series, as were also the inquisitions ad quod damnum; it was in the nature of a de lunatico inquirendo, and therefore there was no finding as to the heir, but the writ mentions a wife and children, and we may fairly make certain useful inferences as to Peter's age. In the first place, he had an uncle, William Saville, then living; so that Peter cannot have been a very old man. We shall see presently that Peter left a widow, and a son and heir, John, who was of age in or before 1301. Now if this John had been of age in 1286, when the inquiry was made as to his father's mental con­dition, we might reasonably expect that he would have been ap­pointed at least a joint guardian of his father's person and property. As he was not so appointed it is a fair assumption that he was under


age, as he was certainly born not later than 1280. If we assume 1275 for the approximate date of John's birth, we shall see that it fits admirably with the pedigree, both up and down.

I think there can be no doubt that it was this John Saville who married Margery de Rishworth, and we can test the date suggested above by considering some Rishworth dates. Margery was one of the three daughters and coheirs of Henry de Rishworth, who were all married before 1306, when Henry himself was dead. He was, as to part of his lands, a tenant of the manor of Wakefield, and his name occurs frequently in the Court Rolls. The earliest extant date is in 1275, and the last in 1298; his widow, Alice, occurs in 1307 (Wakefield Court Rolls, Record Series., vol. 1, p. 108; vol. 2, pp. 48, 88). He was clearly of age in 1275, which gives 1250 as the approximate date of his birth. The three daughters who sur­vived him (there may have been other children who died young) were therefore probably born between 1270 and 1275, or there­abouts. Having thus arrived, not by evidence, it is true, but by fair inference and deduction, that John son of Peter Saville and his wife were both born somewhere about 1275, I have used that ap­proximate date in checking the generations, both up and down, and what follows, apart from actual evidence, is mainly based on that assumption.

The Saville and Butler charters printed in the Pontefract Chartulary threw a new and unsuspected light on the early Saville pedi­gree; the fact that the father of Richard de Saville was called Hugh the Butler (Pincerna) was, to say the least of it, disconcerting, and clearly called for a careful investigation. This I undertook at the request of the late Mr. J. W. Clay, F.S.A., as an introduction to his article on the Saville Family which he was preparing for the Yorkshire Archæological Journal (subsequently printed in vol. xxv), but I felt that a thorough investigation of the early Fines, Assize Rolls, and other records, was necessary before any satisfactory result could be attained, and the removal of these documents from London during the war delayed my researches. The absence of any family deeds adds greatly to the difficulty of arriving at a satis­factory conclusion, and there are several points in the pedigree which may have to be modified if further evidence should be dis­covered.

However, the result, though to some extent inconclusive, enables us to present for the first time a pedigree supported by documentary evidence.

The Pontefract documents are nearly all undated, and with a


few exceptions do not state the relationship between the various Savilles and Butlers mentioned in them. To arrange these in approximate chronological order and to affiliate the individuals with whom we are concerned, is a matter of great difficulty, and I quite recognise that others might arrive at conclusions differing from those which follow; I have given my reasons on all material points. I find myself unable to accept the late Mr. Holmes's con­clusions as to dates and identifications in many cases; these, I think, are all pointed out.

The main difficulty is to settle the relationship between the Savilles and the Butlers, and to decide whether the later Savilles were descended from the Richard de Saville who tells us that his father was Hugh Butler.

The two earliest Savilles mentioned in the Pontefract Chartulary are Ralph and Henry.

I agree with Mr. Holmes that Ralph and Henry de Saville were probably brothers (Record Series, vol. 30, p. 401), though I do not agree that Avice de Saville, wife of Hugh Pincerna, was their sister, nor with the suggestion made in another place (ibid., p. 411) that she was their cousin. '

I find no trace of their father or any earlier ancestors. When they came into Yorkshire, how and why, and whence they derived their surname, are problems as to which, in the absence of evidence, we can only make guesses.

One piece of deliberate invention (for so I regard it) must be noticed before we begin the documentary evidence. The chronicle attributed to John Brompton, Abbat of Jervaulx, printed by Twysden in 1752, states (p.1158) that Richard de Savill was one of seventeen barons at the coronation of Richard I at Westminster in September, 1189. Even if we accept as a possibility that Richard was the otherwise unnamed father of Ralph and Henry (see below), he was at best a small country squire, and certainly had no claim to attend the coronation or to be styled a baron. Sir T. D. Hardy states that Brompton's chronicle must have been compiled after the middle of the fourteenth century. The Dictionary of National Biography states "the work is wholly uncritical, and, having been widely accepted as authoritative by writers of past times, has been the means of importing many fables into our history." There can be little doubt that Baron Richard de Savill is one of the fables.