SAVILE, William, Lord Eland (c.1665-1700), of Rufford Abbey, Notts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1665, 3rd but o. surv. s. of George Savile†, 1st Mq. of Halifax, by 1st w. Lady Dorothy Spencer. educ. Geneva 1678–81; Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 5 Dec. 1681, aged 16, BA 1685, MA 1688; travelled abroad (Italy, Spain, France, Low Countries) 1685–7. m. (1) lic. 24 Nov. 1687, Elizabeth (d. 1694), da. and h. of Sir Samuel Grimston, 3rd Bt.*, 1s. (d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 2 Apr. 1695 (with £20,000), Lady Mary, da. of Daniel Finch†, 2nd Earl of Nottingham, 2s. d.v.p. 3da. Styled Ld. Eland Oct. 1687; suc. fa. as 2nd Mq. of Halifax 5 Apr. 1695.1
Much was expected of the most promising son of the 1st Marquess of Halifax. In 1686 his father wrote to his brother, Henry Savile†: ‘I hope by this time Lord William is as well in your opinion as, upon my faith, he is with everybody of all sorts who has seen him here.’ Indeed, there is little doubt that Halifax encouraged his son to develop his intellectual talents to the full by providing both a comprehensive education and regular advice, such as that given to him during a sojourn to Bath in 1693, that he should use his mental faculties rather than let them wither away through lack of exercise.2
Lord Eland was returned to the Convention for Newark, following the recent death of his uncle in 1687, continuing the family tradition of representing that borough. He was returned unopposed in the 1690 election. During his career in the Commons it is possible to see the influence of his father, particularly in the way he valued independent judgment and mistrusted executive power exercised by William III. This attitude made it difficult for his father’s enemy, the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), to categorize Eland’s political allegiance. On a list of the Parliament which assembled in March 1690, Carmarthen marked him as ‘doubtful’; on a second list of 1690, the initial classification has been erased, but not replaced, possibly indicating uncertainty about his views. A further list of December 1690, possibly a calculation concerning an attack on Carmarthen, also had an ambiguous mark against his name. In the opening session of the 1690 Parliament, during a debate on 2 May on a pamphlet distributed by Anthony Rowe*, entitled A Letter to a Friend on the Dissolution of the Parliament (which gave a list of Members who had voted against the vacancy to the throne), Lord Eland intervened to suggest that witnesses should be called into the Chamber either to prove the allegations or to vindicate Rowe’s conduct, as this was the fairest way to proceed, but his advice was ignored. Eland was almost entirely inactive in the following session of 1690–1, possibly due to his own, or his wife’s, ill-health. In April 1691 Robert Harley* classed him as a Country supporter.3
Despite being ill during the summer of 1691, Eland attended Parliament the following winter when he was first-named to the second-reading committees on two estate bills, one of which concerned his brother-in-law Lord Stanhope. On 12 Jan. 1692, he spoke in committee of ways and means against the idea that a committee be appointed to receive proposals for raising money on a fund of perpetual interest. Although it remained largely undocumented, his main role in this session was to protect his father from the accusations of treason levelled at him by the informer William Fuller. On a list of Court supporters drawn up by Carmarthen during 1692 Eland was seen as a supporter by virtue of the fact that he was Nottingham’s nephew. However, the general tenor of his remarks during the 1692–3 session suggests that he was more independent. On 15 Nov. he made clear his misgivings about the power of the executive in a speech in a debate upon which business the House should consider first: ‘I think it proper to go upon the accounts and to have the alliances before you and not go into a committee of the House to give money only, for when that is done farewell to accounts and alliances too.’ At the presentation of the army and navy estimates on 25 Nov. 1692, Eland spoke against the proposal that they be referred to a committee of the whole to sit the same day. The committee was put off until 29 Nov. On 2 Dec., he intervened in a debate over whether the House should go into a committee on ways and means to raise the money granted for the army, or to take into consideration the army estimates. He opted for the first choice: ‘I am for providing for the fleet first as being our security, for if the fleet be out we need not matter the French forces, and therefore I am for providing first for ourselves in the fleet before we provide for others in an army.’ In the committee of the whole on the land tax bill on 28 Dec., Eland spoke ‘zealously’ against the proposal that the King should nominate the local commissioners who would administer the tax. On 23 Feb. 1694 he was a teller against the proposal from the committee on ways and means that a duty be imposed on leather.4
Shortly after the end of the 1693–4 session, Lady Eland died. As early as September his name was linked with the daughter of Lord Ossulston, but negotiations were soon under way for his marriage to Lady Mary Finch and these were concluded by February 1695. The marriage took place on 2 Apr., the same day that his father was struck down by his fatal illness. Three days later his father died and Eland succeeded to the marquessate. He took his seat in the Lords on 16 Apr. 1695, where he continued to play a role in the nation’s affairs, in the main siding with the Tories. He died at his house in Acton on 31 Aug. 1700, and was buried at St. Albans. The family estates were inherited by Sir George Savile, 7th Bt.†5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. i. 67–68; BL, Althorp pprs. C7, Ld. Savile to Mq. of Halifax, 1 May, 20 Dec. 1685, 17 Sept. 1686, 7 Jan. 1686[–7]; HMC Downshire, i. 200.
- 2. Savile Corresp. (Cam. Soc. lxxi), 291; Foxcroft, Halifax, ii. 168.
- 3. Grey, x. 113.
- 4. Althorp Pprs. C5, Ld. Weymouth (Thomas Thynne†) to Halifax, 11 July 1691; Luttrell Diary, 125, 227, 260, 284, 338; Browning, Danby, iii. 183; Foxcroft, ii. 147–8.
- 5. Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 314, 435, 457; Egerton 920, f. 93; Foxcroft, ii. 188–9; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 575; Top. and Gen. iii. 35.