Saville Surname Genealogy

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

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

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.
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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