Savile, John (1545-1607) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 50
Savile, John (1545-1607)

by Albert Frederick Pollard
Date of birth 1546 in the ODNB.

SAVILE, Sir JOHN (1545–1607), judge, born in 1545, was the eldest son of Henry Savile of Bradley, Yorkshire, by his wife Elizabeth, only daughter of Robert Ramsden. Sir Henry Savile (1549–1622) [q. v.], provost of Eton, was a younger brother. He must be distinguished from John Savile, first baron Savile of Pontefract [q. v.] John matriculated from Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1561, but did not graduate, and entered the Middle Temple, where he was autumn reader in 1586. In 1572 he was elected member of parliament for Newton, Lancashire. He practised in the exchequer court, and in 1594 he was made serjeant-at-law. In 1598 he became baron of the exchequer on Burghley's recommendation. In 1599 he was placed on a commission for suppressing heresy. He was knighted by James I on 3 July 1603, and in 1604 was made chief justice of the county palatine of Lancaster. In November 1606 he was one of the barons of the exchequer who decided that the king was ‘entitled by his sole prerogative to levy impositions upon imports and exports,’ a decision that has been received by posterity with universal disfavour (Gardiner, ii. 6). Savile died on 2 Feb. 1606–7, and was buried in the church of St. Dunstan's-in-the-West, London; his heart was conveyed to Methley in Yorkshire, in the church of which a handsome monument, with an inscription, was erected to his memory.

Savile was four times married: first, to Jane, daughter of Richard Garth of Morden, Surrey, by whom he had issue Henry Savile (see below) and two daughters; secondly, to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Wentworth of North Elmsall, Yorkshire, by whom he had issue John (d. 1651), who was heir to his half-brother Henry, and great-grandfather of John Savile, first earl of Mexborough (1720–1778); thirdly, to Dorothy, daughter of Thomas, first baron Wentworth (d. 1551), and widow of Sir W. Widmerpoole and then of Sir Martin Frobisher [q. v.]; and fourthly, to Margery, daughter of Ambrose Peake, citizen of London, and widow of Sir Jerome Weston. By the last two Savile had no issue.

Like several other members of his family, Savile was an intimate friend of Camden, whom he entertained at Bradley in August 1599 (Gent. Mag. 1852, i. 270, 271). One of his letters to Camden, pointing out errors in the ‘Britannia,’ is printed in ‘Camdeni et Illustrium Virorum Epistolæ,’ 1691, 4to, pp. 36–9. Savile was himself an original member of the Society of Antiquaries, founded by Archbishop Parker in 1572, and is said by Wood to have left behind him ‘certain things fit for the press;’ but the only published work of his is the collection of ‘Reports’ of cases tried in the exchequer court, edited (1675, fol.) by John Robertson, with a preface containing a poor account of him and his family (cf. Bridgman, Legal Bibliography, p. 297; Wallace, Reporters, 1855, p. 142). The judge must be distinguished from a contemporary John Savile, ‘a great pretender to poetry,’ who published ‘King James his entertainment at Theobalds, with his welcome to London, and a salutatory Poem,’ London, 1603, 4to, which Halliwell erroneously styles a play (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. i. 774; Fleay, English Drama, ii. 175).

Sir Henry Savile (1579–1632), the eldest son, born in 1579, matriculated from Merton College, Oxford, on 4 Feb. 1583–4, but left without a degree, entering Middle Temple in 1593. He was knighted at the coronation of James I, on 23 July 1603, and created a baronet on 29 June 1611. He represented Aldborough in parliament from 1604 to 1611, and again in 1614. Before 1627 he became vice-president of the council of the north, serving under Wentworth. In the following year he was sheriff of Yorkshire, and in 1629 was knight of the shire in parliament. He died on 23 June 1632, having married Mary, daughter of John Dent, citizen of London, by whom he had three sons, all of whom predeceased him without issue. The baronetcy consequently expired on his death. His widow married Sir William Sheffield.

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581–1610; Hunter's Antiquarian Notices of Lupset; Official Return of Members of Parliament; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. i. 773–4; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, iii. 162–3; Wotton's Baronetage, i. 153; Burke's Extinct Baronetage and Extinct Peerage; Foster's Yorkshire Pedigrees; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 366; Forster's Life of Strafford (sometimes ascribed to Robert Browning), 1892, p. 70; Foss's Lives of the Judges.]

A. F. P.