The Earls of Mexborough, Part 2
by J R Ashby
In our last newsletter we learned how the Savile Family came to
live in Mexborough and how, during the English Civil War, Samuel
Savile had joined the Royalist Cause and became Bodyguard to King
Charles I. Also how he was imprisoned in the Parliamentary
stronghold of Hull at the end of the war. Latterly the newsletter
tells us that, because William Savile had no children, the estate at
Mexborough passed to his brother and that it was he who sold it to
Sir Charles Savile of Methley Hall in 1718.
Methley Hall was the ancestral home of the Earls of Mexborough and
as such deserves mention in its own right. It was situated in the
Leeds, Pontefract, and Wakefield triangle and was constructed in the
fifteenth-century. Between 1583 & 1593 we find our first connection
with Mexborough, as it was purchased by William Savile, attorney of
Wakefield, and father of Samuel Savile of Mexborough. In 1590 it was
bought by John Savile, Baron of the Exchequer. He was knighted and
became the founder of the Methley Saviles. The Hall was enlarged, in
the Gothic Style, by Sir John Savile and his son, Sir Henry. Its
pride and joy was its spectacular hall window which extended from
the ceiling to the floor divided by numerous mullions and transoms,
and was possibly constructed by the same Ackroyd family who erected
the first Rose shaped window in the West Riding. Following the 1st
W.W. the house began to be affected by mining subsidence and as, in
1897 the Earl of Mexborough had purchased Arden Hall, this is where
the family moved to live, taking some of the contents of Methley
Hall with them and remodelling parts of Arden Hall on those of
Methley. Towards the end of the 1940’s opencast mining began at
Methley and in 1951 the remaining contents of the hall were disposed
of and the hall was demolished.
After acquainting ourselves with their home let us return to the
family. Although he was the son of Charles Savile of Methley Hall,
John Savile, who was to become the First Earl of Mexborough, was not
to be born at their ancestral home, but at Thryburgh in 1720
Sir John Savile entered the House of Commons as the Tory M.P. for
Heydon in 1747 and arrived in the midst of Whig rule. But in 1760,
with the succession of George III, came a new era in the history of
politics as the new king became heavily involved in the happenings
of Parliament. He regarded himself as British, unlike his father and
grandfather, and hated the Whig Party. The Tories, which Sir John
represented, found in their new king ideals which were deeply
entrenched in their beliefs, conservative Anglicanism and a deep
reverence for the established order. The king, in turn, found a
party who would support him against the policies of the Whig Party.
The Whigs, with the support of the George I & II had ruled the
country for the past four decades, and as the king hated the Whigs
he needed all the support the Tory party could give and on 8th
November 1753 King George III elevated Sir John Savile to Baron
Pollingtron of Longford, Ireland and Viscount Pollington and Earl
Mexborough of Lifford in Co. Donegal on 11th February 1766.
This made Sir John Savile an Irish Peer, and therefore he could
continue to sit in the House of Commons and support the King against
the Whig majority. Whereas if he had been created and an English
Peer he would have had to sit in the House of Lords and been unable
to support the King where he most needed it.
The Earl needed somewhere for his staff to live and in the mid
1700’s we discover the residences of two, these being Francis and
Robert Michell who were two of his Esquires. They lived at Lincoln
Inn, Savile Street, and Savile Row, which is now the epicentre of
bespoke tailoring. Savile Row takes its name from the Burlington
Estate which in 1695 created a new development in London, it is
unsure as how the First Earl of Mexborough was related to this
family but Savile Street, and Savile Row, was named after Lord
Burlington’s wife Dorothy Savile.
In 1768 the Earl retired from politics, and died ten years later, on
12th February 1778, and was buried at Methley.
In the lifetime of the 1st Earl, and his son, the navigation of the
River Don at Mexborough, and the subsequent construction of the
canal, had a significantly detrimental effect on their estate at
Mexborough. In previous newsletters you will have read how, in the
eighteenth century, the River Don was made navigable, in order to
convey saleable goods to the international port of Hull. Although
this encouraged overseas trade and finance not everyone approved and
objections were raised. One of these was the Earl of Mexborough as
his metal working mill, which was situated on the river to the rear
of Mexborough Station, was water powered and the large amount of
water removed from the river for use in the Cuts would have made his
mill inoperable. His objection failed and he found it necessary to
move his mill to Sheffield. Then in c1834 Mexborough Parsonage, the
large Elizabethan House which had been the home of Samuel Savile,
Bodyguard to Charles I, was demolished to make way for the
construction of the canal we see today.
Although the effects of the South Yorkshire Navigation Canal must
have been felt considerably by the Savile Family the Mexborough
Tithe Award and Map of 1839 shows us that they still had a
considerable amount of property in Mexborough amounting to ninety
acres of land and nine houses and cottages. Some of which can still
be seen today.
The Savile Family seem to have a flair for politics and the 1st Earl
of Mexborough was followed into this profession by successive
generations. The 2nd Earl of Mexborough was born in 1761 and became
M.P. for Lincoln from 1808-12 and Pontefract 1807-1812 and 1812
-1826. While his son, who was born in 1830, is believed to have been
M.P. for Pontefract from1831-1832, but this is obscure.
The 3rd Earl of Mexborough married Jane West who was the daughter of
the 3rd Earl of Hardwick and their son, John Charles George Savile,
Viscount Pollington of Ferns, was born on 4th June 1810 at Lifford
Co. Donegal. He was married twice, firstly to Rachel Katherine
Walpole daughter of Horatio Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford, on 24th
February 1842 but sadly she died on 21st June 1854. He remained a
widower for quite a long time before he
remarried, this time it was to Agnes Louse Elizabeth Rafael, the
daughter of John Rafael, on 27th July 1861. The 4th Earl also was an
M.P. for Pontefract from 1833-37 and 1841-1847 and had a long and
happy life and did not expire until the end of the nineteenth
century, in 1899.
Unlike his father, and generations before him, the 5th Earl, John
Horatio Savile, who was born in 1843, made a career in the army and
spent much of his time abroad. It was during his time as the Earl of
Mexborough that irreparable damage began to be detected in the
structure of Methley Hall and a new family home had to be obtained.
In 1897 he bought Arden Hall, Hawnby, Nr York and it is my belief,
that in order to aid the purchase of this home, they sold their
remaining property in Mexborough.
The last of these sales took place on 31st December 1915 ‘at the
Montagu Arms Hotel, Montagu Square, Mexborough. The solicitors
representing the Earl at the sale were North & Sons, East Parade,
Leeds. While the auction itself was conducted by Mr. John Hepper of
Messrs. Hepper & Sons of the same address. The list of businessmen,
who were present at the sale, reads like a Mexborough Trade
Directory of the time, names such as: A. Barron, who was the
Director of the local glassworks; J.W. Hattersley, local solicitor
and clerk to Mexborough Urban Distinct Council; R. Elliott,
ironmonger; J. Bisby, hauler; L.N. Harrop, house agent; J. Clayton,
retired provision dealer; I Chipp, who was Estate Agent to the
Montagu Family; Herbert Tyas, retired building contractor; F.
Dodsworth, undertaker; M. Hulse, wine and spirit merchant; J.
Dawson, farmer and dairyman; G & P White, civil and mining engineer,
surveyor, valuer, architect, architect, and estate agent; and H.
Cliffe, building contractor and quarry owner; to name but a few.
The first Lot to be sold was situated to the south of the Market
Place, and in later years became a small café. In 1915 it consisted
of two cottages and a shop and was purchased by Mr. Thomas Athron
The second was the farmyard of the property we now know as ‘The Old
Farm’, Market Street, Mexborough. The farmhouse had been purchased
at a previous auction of the Earl’s property in 1913 by John Dawson,
who by 1915 had a successful dairy farm and milk delivery business,
centred on the farmyard which he rented from the Leaseholder Mr.
John Bell. As this Lot was in a prime central location and equipped
with superb stabling and facilities there was much bidding and
competition for it. At last the competition was reduced to two,
these being John Dawson and John Bisby and after much toing and
froing it was ‘knocked down’ to John Bisby for £100, for use in his
haulage business, much to the disappointment of John Dawson who had
recently modernised the farmyard for his use.
There was also much bidding competition for Lot 4. This was what is
now known as 74 Church Street and in those days consisted of house,
stables, and cowhouse. The bidding went first to one and then to the
other of the trio Messrs Hulse, Clayton and Athron. At last after
strong bidding it was purchased by Mr. Hulse for £595, the
descendants of whom live in the premises to this day.
Lastly came the sale of Lots of building land encompassed by
Doncaster Road, Adwick Road, Hallgate and Harlington Lane. The first
was situated between Doncaster and Adwick Roads and was purchased by
Mr. Athron for £380. The next parcel of land was situated between
Adwick Road and Harlington Lane and was sold to Mr. Cliffe for £375.
Lastly a large tract of building land situated between Hallgate, and
Harlington Lane was sold. There was great bidding and competition
for this and it was opened by Mr. Tyas, who lead the bidding all the
way, until at last it was purchased by him for £450. Here he later
constructed houses, which stand testament to him to this day, and
were named after him as Herbert Street and Tyas Place.
As previously stated, the earl spent much of his life in the armed
forces overseas where, in Italy, he met and married his second wife,
Donna Sylvia Cecilia Maria, daughter of Count de Ser Antoni, of
Lucca and Naples. It was he who, at the turn of the twentieth
century, caused great consternation when he gave up Roman
Catholicism, in favour of Buddhism which he professed until his
death on 7th June 1916 in Florence.
Although the Earl was married three times he died without having any
children and we find that the succession sidesteps as the title
passed to his half-brother, the Hon. John Henry Saville, who was
residing, at the time, at Arden Hall and would like to conclude this
newsletter at this point and take up my next newsletter with the
earls of the twentieth Century.
Information Obtained from:
The present Earl of Mexborough
The South Yorkshire Times 02/12/1916, 31/12/1916, ? 1916
The Pickering & Herald 10/10/1985
1839 Tithe Map of Mexborough
Hunters South Yorkshire
The Norman Watson Collection
Copyright. This newsletter may not be reproduced, in part or in its
entirety, without the permission of J.R. Ashby