GEORGE SAVILE, MARQUIS OF HALIFAX
THE period of sixty-two years covered by the life of George Savile, Marquis of Halifax ( 1633-95), has an importance in the political and constitutional history of Great Britain that is fundamental. In that history Halifax played a part that won from Macaulay the just verdict that among the statesmen of his day he was in genius the first. His genius, it is true, was of a kind that makes no appeal to the common sentiments of most readers of history. One is not predisposed to admire the man who asserted the political virtues of a 'trimmer.' Yet it was to Halifax more than to any other single statesman that the Revolution owed the constitutional qualities that won for it the admiration of Burke.
The Saviles were a Yorkshire family of Lupset, Thornhill, and Wakefield, accustomed to take a responsible part in the administrative life of their shire. They were wealthy, and by marriage were well connected. The great-grandmother of Halifax was a daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury; his grandmother was a sister of the great Earl of Strafford; his mother, Anne Coventry, was the daughter of the Lord Keeper and sister of Lady Shaftesbury. His father, Sir William, of Thornhill, was an unswerving Royalist who held a command in the Civil War, and for a time occupied Leeds and Wakefield. Appointed Governor of Sheffield, he died there six months before the battle of Marston Moor.1 His son, then a boy of eleven, was probably present when his mother, in spite of the delicate state of her health, resisted the surrender of Sheffield Castle after the battle. To this courageous mother the boy was indebted for the wise control of his education. He appears to have studied abroad in Paris and Geneva.
He married before the Restoration, and settled at Rufford, in Nottinghamshire, on a beautiful wooded property formerly____________________