Saville


Select Saville Surname Genealogy

The Saville surname has Norman origins, derived either from the place-name Sainville in Eure-et-Loire in northern France; or from the Old French saisne,  meaning “Saxon,” and ville, “settlement.” 

Saville is the most common surname spelling.  But Savile was the name of the Yorkshire gentry family.  And Savill was preferred in Essex. 

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EnglandThe earliest appearance of the Saville name in England appears to have been Jean de Saiville, an adviser to King Stephen in the mid-12th century.  The senior branch of this family continued as royal advisers and based itself in Yorkshire.  A Sayvill of this family was recorded at Broxted in northern Essex in 1377; from whom, it appears, may have come the Savilles of Langton Maltravers in Dorset.

Yorkshire.  Early recorded spellings in Yorkshire were Henry de Seyvil in 1225 and Peter de Sayvell in 1286.  However, the family name soon became Savile. 

The Savile family began to rise in status in the mid-14th century when Sir John Savile fought in the French wars and married the heiress Isabel de Elland.  He held the post of Sheriff of Yorkshire on three occasions in the 1380’s.  Sir Thomas Savile established the family at Thornhill near Wakefield in the following century.  They were Yorkist during the Wars of the Roses but soon jumped ship after Henry Tudor seized the crown in 1485
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The Saviles were Royalist in the 17th century.  Thornhill Hall was destroyed by the Parliamentarians in 1648 during the Civil War and the family subsequently made their home at Rufford Abbey near Rotherham.  Sir George Savile had been created a baronet in 1610 and a later Sir George was made Viscount Halifax in 1668.  Savile Row in London was named after his wife Dorothy Savile. 

After the Viscount's death in 1695 the Savile estates passed to distant Savile cousins in Yorkshire and, after the death of the 8th Savile baronet in 1784, to a nephew Richard Lumley.  His descendants subsequently adopted the Savile name.  Sir John Savile the diplomat, an illegitimate son of this line, was created Baron Savile in 1888.  Rufford Abbey was eventually sold by the Saviles in 1938.

An earlier illegitimate line, from Sir Henry Savile of Thornhill, was to be found in Lincolnshire.  Sir Robert of Barkston in Lincolnshire was Sheriff of the county in 1573.  His son John was its Sheriff in 1590 and created Baron Savile in 1627.

EssexThe Savill name first appeared in Essex in Broxted and Takeley in the northern part of the county in the 16th century.  One Savill family has been traced back to William Savill, born in 1714 in Little Dunmow.  He married Anne Rost in Barnston in 1739.  William Savill was a farmer in Great Dunmow in the 1820’s and 1830’s.  Another Savill family was an important wool merchant in Bocking near Braintree.  

And then there was Henry Savill who married Elizabeth Swallow in 1652.  Their descendants founded a surveyor’s firm, a brewery, and a steamship line.  From the surveyor line in Chigwell in the early 19th century came Alfred Savill founder of Savills, one of the UK’s largest estate agents.  The story was told in John Watson’s 1977 book Savill: A Family and a Firm
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America.  Samuel and Ann Saville, Quakers from Yorkshire, came to Chester county, Pennsylvania in the 1740’s:

  • their son Abraham Saville moved to Rockbridge county, Virginia in 1795.  His farm remained with his descendants until the 1960’s.   Mattie Saville lived in the nearby Dillard farm in the 1850’s, but this building burned down in the 1930’s.  Jacob Saville migrated west to Iowa in the 1870's.
  • another son Joseph made his home in Hampshire county, West Virginia.  His line was covered in Frank and Nancy Saville's 1989 book The Saville Family in America.
Australia.  Two Saville arrivals in the 19th century were from Essex:
  • Benjamin Saville was transported for housebreaking in 1832.  He eventually settled north of Sydney at Lansdowne on the Manning river where he was the earliest settler. 
  • James Saville meanwhile came to Sydney with his family on the Euphrates in 1855.  They joined a bullock wagon train to Gordonbrook, NSW in the outback and later moved into dairy farming at One Tree Farm near Casino.
Select Saville Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


Select Saville Names

Sir John Savile
fought in the French wars in the 1340's and was the forebear of the Saviles of Yorkshire.
Alfred Savill founded Savills, one of the UK's largest estate agents, in London in 1855.
Jimmy Savile was a popular English disc jockey and TV presenter.  After his death in 2011, his reputation sank following the widespread allegations of sexual abuse made against him.  

Select Savilles Today
  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in Virginia) 
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 500 surnames.

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