Saville Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Saville Meaning
The Saville surname has Norman
origins, derived either from the place-name Sainville in Eure-et-Loire
northern France; or from the Old French saisne,
meaning “Saxon,” and ville,
Saville is the most common surname
spelling. But Savile was the name of the
Yorkshire gentry family. And Savill was
preferred in Essex.

Saville Resources on

Saville Ancestry

The 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
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

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.

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
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.

Essex. The 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
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
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

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

John and Araminta Saville came to Baltimore, Maryland from
Ulster in Ireland sometime in the late 1700’s.

Two Saville arrivals in the 19th century were from

  • Benjamin Saville was transported
    housebreaking in 1832. He eventually
    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
    NSW in the outback and later moved into dairy farming at One Tree Farm
    near Casino


Saville Miscellany

Peter de Sayvell in 1286.  In 1286 there was recorded a lunacy inquisition
conducted against Peter de Sayvell at York, which contained a list of some of his lands and possessions. The inquisition opened by stating:

“Peter de Sayvell is clearly mad and an idiot
and incapable of managing his land.”

The inquisition recorded that Peter de Sayvell held land in Smeaton, Skelebrook, Golcar and Thurleston, all in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Although these lands might have been relatively small, they showed that the Savile family had a significant presence in West Yorkshire by the late 13th century.

The Will of Sir Thomas Savile.  The will of Sir Thomas Savile who died in 1449 suggests he was a pious man, with many grants to
houses in the vicinity of the Savile estates.  Certainly
he was a patron of Thornhill parish
church and in 1447 he had paid for an extension to the Church to
provide a
private family chapel.

The surviving
stained glass in the windows of this chapel link it to Sir Thomas, with
a Latin
inscription that translated:

“Pray for
the soul of Thomas Savile, Knight, who caused this chapel to be built,
AD 1447.”

The illustration in the glass showed Sir
Thomas and his wife, Margaret, at prayer, with the arms of the Savile
Thornhill families quartered on Lady Margaret’s dress and Sir Thomas’s

In this will Savile also bequeathed his best
horse and trappings towards the expenses of his funeral and a set of
of yellow cloth and a cap for the priest, deacon and sub-deacon of the
at Thornhill.  Since the seat of the
family had transferred to the Thornhill estate, Sir Thomas left
instructions for
his body to be interred with his wife in this church and three marks
were left
for a tomb to be raised over their bodies.

Most of Sir Thomas’s goods were granted to Sir
John, his son and heir, who was also named executor by his father. Apart from Sir John, Sir Thomas Savile left
three daughters, all of who married into local families of esquire or

Savile Row in London.  Savile Row is a street in Mayfair in London, known principally for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men.  The street has had a varied history that
accommodating the headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society and,
recently, the Apple office of the Beatles.

The first house in what would
become Savile Row was “a fine house and ground,” built in 1674 and
occupied by a series of nobles until it was
demolished in 1730 in preparation for the laying out of the houses on
the east
of Savile Row as part of the Burlington estate.  Savile
Row was named after Lady Dorothy Savile,
the wife of the 3rd Earl of Burlington.  Initially the street was
occupied by military officers and their wives.

The Baron Savile Line.  The 8th Earl of Scarbrough, who built the magnificent
entrance gates at
Rufford Abbey, was walking one day in Hyde Park and saw a young French
drowning in the Serpentine.  He rescued the girl, known as Agnes,
fell in love
with her and brought her back to Rufford where they lived in unmarried
for some years, producing six children.

The sons of course could not inherit the
earldom but one of them, John, was a distinguished antiquary, diplomat
ambassador to Rome. He was created Baron Savile in 1888.  The
title was then remaindered to his nephew, also John, who became the 2nd
Baron and the father of
the late George, 3rd Lord Savile.

Reader Feedback – Irish Savilles in Baltimore.  I am descended from the line of John Saville and Araminta Savington. They settled in Baltimore, Maryland.  John originally came over from Northern
Ireland sometime in the late 1700’s. They had one child John Wesley
Saville Sr.
that I can prove and possibly a second son William. John married
Caroline Sisco
and they had five children – Margaret A. Saville, William Oliver
Saville, John
Wesley Saville, George Washington Saville, and Walter Aquilla Saville.
I am from the line of George Washington
Saville.  He married Mary R. Eagle and
they had four children – Ada who died very young (can’t find any
records on
her), John Oliver Saville, Lillian Margaret Saville, and Edith Saville.

later married Florence Susan Ott. They
had two sons – George Walter Saville and Harold Wheeler Saville. George
Saville was my grandfather.

married Frances Mary Pepper and they had two sons – Walter Henry
Saville and
William Franklin Saville. William died at the age of 12 weeks from
whooping cough.
Walter married Helen Edith Spevar and they
had six children.

Obviously my interest
is in the history of this line of Savilles from Ireland. If there is
else you can tell me about our history it would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Paul W. Saville (

The Abraham Saville Monument.  Abraham Saville was a soldier in the Pennsylvania militia during the
Revolutionary War.   For enlisting in the militia he was
excommunicated by his Quaker community.

He relocated to Rockbridge county, Virginia in 1795.  He
built a cabin there and farmed on the land until his death in
1841.  He is remembered by the Abraham Saville monument that was
unveiled in 2013 in a ceremony that many of his descendants attended.

Alfred Savill of Savills.  Alfred Savill was the founder of Savills, one of the UK’s largest estate agents.  Born in Chigwell in Essex in
1829, he became a land agent,
surveyor and auctioneer, before opening the first office of Savills in
the City
of London in 1855.

Although located in
the City, his practice was largely Essex-related and agricultural.  He did commission the building of Chigwell
Hall in 1876 and was retained as professional adviser to a number of

At the time of his death in
1905, his sons Alfred, Edwin and Norman were already firmly established
partnership and they developed the business in the inter-war
years.   By the 1970’s the firm was
re-branded as
Savills.  Fifty eight
partners operated from the head
office in London and from fifteen country offices in England and Wales.
By the 1990’s Savills had established an
presence in both Europe and Asia.


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 Saville Numbers 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)


Select Saville and Like Surnames.

The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them.  Over time their names became less French and more English in character.  Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth.  The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy.  Over time the name here also became more English.  Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.





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