SAVILE, John, Visct. Pollington (1783-1860), of Methley Park, nr. Leeds, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1807 - 1812
22 Dec. 1812 - 1826
1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 3 July 1783, o.s. of John Savile*, 2nd Earl of Mexborough [I]. educ. Eton c.1797; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1801. m. 29 Aug. 1807, Lady Anne Yorke, da. of Philip Yorke*, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, 6s. 1da. suc. fa. as 3rd Earl of Mexborough [I] 3 Feb. 1820.

Offices Held

Capt. Pontefract vols. 1803, 2nd maj. 1806, lt.-col. commdt. 1808; lt. S. regt. W. Riding yeoman cav. 1811, capt. 1824.


Pollington’s father settled £1,400 p.a. on him when he came of age. He was ‘an ugly, insignificant looking little mortal’, but by all accounts droll.1 In 1806 he offered himself at Pontefract, where John Smyth* defeated him for second place. In 1807 he was the popular candidate and headed the poll. He posed as an independent and possibly as an opponent of Catholic relief, but his conduct proved surprising. On 26 June he opposed the address, deprecating the interruption of public business caused by the dissolution, the bandying about of the King’s name and the ‘infamous’ cry of ‘No Popery’. On 1 July he was admitted to Brooks’s Club, sponsored by Lord Milton, and on 6 July he voted with opposition on Whitbread’s motion. His seconder at Pontefract was indignant:

I am truly sorry that our newly chosen Member, the young viscount, should have been, as I am informed, one of the most active and distinguished agents of the noble house of Wentworth. He gave me assurances of possessing very different principles, when he engaged me to second his nomination as a candidate for this borough. I believe the young lord by his late conduct has wholly cut off all future prospects of ever again being sent as a representative for this town.2

In August 1807 he married a daughter of Lord Hardwicke, who was also in opposition. On 3 Feb. 1808 he was in the minority critical of the Copenhagen expedition. Yet on 25 May he assured the House that he was opposed to Catholic relief and hinted that he always would be. He was in the minority for investigation of charges of ministerial corruption, 25 Apr. 1809, and joined opposition on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, and on the Scheldt question, 26 Jan., 5 and 30 Mar. According to Perceval, he spoke in reply to Rose on 29 Mar. on this question, but this has not been confirmed. The Whigs classed him as one of their adherents at that time. He joined them again on the adjournment (second division), 29 Nov. 1810, and on the Regency bill, 1 and 21 Jan. 1811. It seems that William Henry Lyttelton* failed to procure his attendance on the question of McMahon’s sinecure in February 1812, but he voted for Turton’s censure motion, 27 Feb., and against the orders in council, 3 Mar. He supported Stuart Wortley’s motion for a more efficient administration, 21 May, and opposed the leather tax, 26 June 1812.3

Pollington had neglected his constituency and paid dearly for it in 1812. He was more embarrassed than pleased by an attempt to revive the cry of ‘No Popery’ during the election. He was defeated and had hopes of coming in on his father-in-law’s interest for Reigate. If he did so, Hardwicke’s brother-in-law thought he would be a better nominee than ‘a mere partisan’ of the opposition. Instead, he took advantage of Henry Lascelles’s choice of sitting for the county rather than Pontefract to contest the resulting by-election. He won back the seat at the overall cost of £13,000.4 After all this, he was more negligent in attendance in the ensuing Parliament than in the preceding one and had nothing to say in debate. He was absent, neutral, on the Catholic question in 1813. On 18 Mar. 1816 he interrupted a month’s compassionate leave to join opposition to the property tax and two days later voted for the reduction of the Admiralty establishment. In May he was in Paris, recuperating from a troublesome cough.5 He re-emerged as a supporter of Charles Williams Wynn for the Speakership, 2 June 1817. Re-elected without difficulty in 1818, he did not sign the requisition to Tierney to lead the opposition, though he voted for Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819. He had taken six weeks’ leave on 4 Mar. On 25 Nov. 1819 Viscount Lowther reported to his father that Pollington was one of the handful of friends of opposition who voted with government on ‘the Manchester business’ (that is, on the address the night before).6 It was a symptom of his growing conservatism. He died 25 Dec. 1860.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Add. 35651, f. 164; Warrenne Blake, Irish Beauty, 80; Glenbervie Diaries, ii. 333.
  • 2. Lonsdale mss, Rev. Zouch to Lonsdale, 7 July 1807.
  • 3. Geo. III Corresp. v. 4122; Add. 35650, f. 128.
  • 4. Lonsdale mss, Armytage to Lowther, 17 Sept. 1810; see PONTEFRACT; Add. 35394, f. 139; 45034, f. 71; Leeds Mercury Supp. 5 Feb. 1881.
  • 5. Berry Pprs. 379.
  • 6. Lonsdale mss.