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John Savile, 4th Earl of Mexborough

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John Charles George Savile, 4th Earl of Mexborough (4 June 1810 – 17 August 1899), styled Viscount Pollington between 1830 and 1860, was a British peer and Tory politician. He impressed his friends enough to be twice fictionalised, and at his death he was the last surviving person to have been a member of the House of Commons before the passing of the Reform Act.


Savile was the son of John Savile, 3rd Earl of Mexborough, and Lady Anne, daughter of Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke.[1] At Eton between 1821 and 1826, he was renowned for his abilities in the classics, and also enjoyed boxing; Savile was said to have entertained contemporaries at one boxing match by "strutting around the ring, spouting Homer" between rounds.[2] From there he went to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1827-8.[3]

Political career

Pollington was returned to Parliament for the rotten borough of Gatton in 1831, a borough under the control of his cousin Lord Monson. At the time of his election he was under-age but Parliament did not meet until after his 21st birthday. Pollington voted consistently against the Reform Bill and also voted to end the grant to the Roman Catholic Maynooth College. Gatton was among the boroughs disfranchised by the Reform Act,[4] and Pollington did not attempt to find an alternative constituency at the 1832 general election.

After leaving Parliament, Pollington went on an extensive foreign tour of Russia, Persia and India, taking notes in a journal which was published as "Notes on a Journey from Erz-Rûm .. to Aleppo" in the London Geographical Journal in 1841. In 1834 he joined his Eton contemporary Alexander William Kinglake on an expedition through the Ottoman Empire. Kinglake's novel "Eothen" includes a character called Methley who is based on Pollington: Methley is a knowledgable classical scholar with "the practical sagacity of a Yorkshireman".[5] Pollington returned to Britain in 1835, in time for his election as Member of Parliament for Pontefract as a supporter of Sir Robert Peel at the general election.

After sitting out the Parliament of 1837-1841, Pollington again represented Pontefract between 1841 and 1847.[6] He was nominated as a candidate in a byelection in the borough in 1851, in his absence and without his knowledge. Pollington became a close friend of Benjamin Disraeli, and shortly after he married the "very wild and gay" Lady Rachel Katherine, daughter of Horatio Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford in 1842, Disraeli featured the couple as 'Lord and Lady Gaverstock' in Coningsby.[5] Tragically Pollington's first wife died in June 1854.


In 1860 he succeeded his father in the earldom. However, as this was an Irish peerage it did not entitle him to a seat in the House of Lords. In July 1861 at St Mary's, Bryanston Square he married Agnes Louisa Elizabeth, daughter of John Raphael. In 1894 Mexborough converted to the Roman Catholic faith of his wife, who died in December 1898. Lord Mexborough survived her by only a few months and died in Brighton in August 1899, aged 89. At the time of his death he was the last survivor from the unreformed House of Commons.[7] He was succeeded in the earldom by his son from his first marriage, John.[8]


  2. W. Tuckwell, "Alexander Kinglake", p. 10, quoted in "Savile, John Charles George", History of Parliament 1820-1832 ed. D.R. Fisher, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  3. Savile, John Charles George, Viscount Pollington in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Savile, John Charles George", History of Parliament 1820-1832 ed. D.R. Fisher, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  7. D.R. Fisher, History of Parliament 1820-1832, vol I, p. 241.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Shelley
John Thomas Hope
Member of Parliament for Gatton
With: Anthony John Ashley
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Hon. Henry Stafford-Jerningham
John Gully
Member of Parliament for Pontefract
With: John Gully
Succeeded by
Richard Monckton Milnes
William Stanley-Massey-Stanley
Preceded by
Richard Monckton Milnes
William Stanley-Massey-Stanley
Member of Parliament for Pontefract
With: Richard Monckton Milnes
Succeeded by
Richard Monckton Milnes
Samuel Martin
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
John Savile
Earl of Mexborough
Succeeded by
John Horace Savile

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