Savile, Sir Henry

, a most learned man, and a great benefactor to the learning of his country, was the son of Henry Savile of Bradley, in the township of Stainland, in the parish of Halifax, Yorkshire, by Ellen, daughter of Robert Ramsden. He was born at Bradley, Nov. 30, 1549, and first entered of Brasen-nose college, Oxford, whence he was elected to Merton-college in 1561, where he took the degrees in arts, and was chosen fellow. When he proceeded master of arts in 1570, he read for that degree on the Almagest of Ptolemy, which procured him the reputation of a man wonderfully skilled in mathematics and the Greek language; in the former of which, he voluntarily read a public lecture in the university for some time. | Having now great interest, he was elected proctor for two years together, 1575 and 1576, an honour not very common, for as the proctors were then chosen out of the whole body of the university, by the doctors and masters, and the election was not, as now, confined to particular colleges, none but men of learning, and such as had considerable interest, durst aspire to that honour. In 1578 he visited the continent, became acquainted with various learned foreigners, and obtained many valuable Mss. or copies of them. He is said to have returned a man of high accomplishment*, and was made tutor in the Greek tongue to queen Elizabeth, or, as it is otherwise expressed, he read Greek and mathematics with her majesty, who had a great esteem for him. In 1585 he was made warden of Mertoncollege, which he governed six and thirty years with great credit, and greatly raised its reputation for learning, by a judicious patronage of students most distinguished for talents and industry. In 1596, he was chosen provost of Eton-college, of which society also he increased the fame by rilling it with the most learned men, among whom was the ever-memorable John Hales. It is said, however, that he incurred some odium among the younger scholars by his severity, and his dislike of those who were thought sprightly wi s. He used to say, “Give me the plodding student. If I would look for wits, I would go to Newgate, there be the wits.John Earte, afterwards bishop of Salisbury, was the only scholar he ever accepted on the recommendation of being a wit. James 1. upon his accession to the crown of England, expressed a particular regard for him, and would have preferred him either in church or state; but sir Henry declined it, and only accepted the honour of knighthood from his majesty at Windsor on Sept. 21, 1604. His only son dying about that time, he devoted his fortune entirely to the promoting of learning. In 1619 he founded two lectures, or professorships, one in geometry, the other in astronomy, in the university of Oxford; which he endowed each with a salary of 160l. a year, besides a legacy of 600l. for purchasing more lands for the same use. In the preamble of the deed, by which a salary was annexed to these two professorships, it is expressly said that “geometry was almost totally unknown and abandoned in England.” Briggs was his first professor of geometry; but Aubrey says, on the authority of bishop Ward, that he first sent for Gunter for that purpose, who, coming | with his sector and quadrant, “fell to resolving of triangles and doing a great many fine things. Said the grave knight, ‘ Do you call this reading of Geometric This is shewing of tricks, man,’ and so dismissed him with scorne, and sent for Brings.” Sir Henry also furnished a library with mathematical hooks near the mathematical school, for the use of his professors; and gave 100l. to the mathematical chest of his own appointing; adding afterwards a legacy of 4C/. a year to the same chest, to the university and to his professors jointly. He likewise gave 120l. towards the new-building of the schools; several rare manuscripts and printed books to the Bodleian library; and a good quantity of matrices and Greek types to the printingpress at Oxford. Part of the endowment of the professorships was the manor of Little Hays in Essex. He died, at Eton -college, Feb. 19, 1621-2, and was buried in the chapel there, on the south side of the communion table, near the body of his son Henry, with an inscription on a black marble stone. The university of Oxford paid him the greatest honours, by having a public speech and verses made in his praise, which were published soon after in 4to, under the title of “Ultima Linea Savilii,” and a sumptuous honorary monument was erected to his memory on the south wall, at the upper end of the choir of Merton- college chapel. Sir Henry Savile, by universal consent, ranks among the most learned men of his time, and the most liberal patrons of learning; and with great justice the highest encomiums are bestowed on him by all the learned of his time: by Isaac Casaubon, Mercerus, Meibomius, Joseph Scaliger, and especially the learned bishop Montagu; who, in his “Diatribes” upon Selden’s “History of Tithes,” styles him “that magazine of learning, whose memory shall be honourable amongst not only the learned, but the righteous for ever.

We have already mentioned several noble instances of his munificence to the republic of letters: and his works exhibit equal zeal for the promotion of literature. In 1581, he published an English version of, 1. “Four Books of the Histories of Cornelius Tacitus, and the Life of Agricola; with notes upon them,” folio, dedicated to queen Elizabeth. The notes were esteemed so valuable as to be translated into Latin by Isaac Gruter, and published at Amsterdam, 1649, in 12mo, to which Gruter subjoined a treatise of our author, published ia 1598, under the title, | 2. “A View of certain Military Matters, or commentaries concerning Roman Warfare;” which, soon after its first appearance, was translated into Latin by Marquardus Freherus, and printed at Heidelberg in 1601, but having become exceeding scarce, was reprinted by Gruter. In 1596, he published a collection of the best ancient writers of our English history, entitled, 3. “Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores post Bedain praecipui, ex vetustissimis codicibus nunc primum in lucem editi:” to which he added chronological tables at the end, from Julius Caesar to the coming in of William the Conqueror. This was reprinted at Francfort in 1601, which edition has a complete index to it. The collection contains William of Malmsbury’s history of the kings of England, and the lives of the English bishops; the histories of Henry of Huntingdon the annals of Roger de Hoveden the chronicle of Ethelvverd, and the history of Ingulphus with a dedication to queen Elizabeth, &c. Wharton, in the preface to his “Anglia Sacra,” objects only to Malmsbury’s history, which he says was printed from an incorrect ms. 4. He undertook and finished an edition, most beautifully printed, of “St. Chrysostom’s Works” in Greek, printed in 1613, 8 vols. folio. In the preface, he says, “that, having himself visited, about twelve years before, all the public and private libraries in Britain, and copied out thence whatever he thought useful to his design, he then sent some learned men into France, Germany, Italy, and the East; to transcribe such parts as he had not already, and to collate the others with the best manuscripts.” At the same time, he makes his acknowledgment to several great men for their assistance; as Thuanus, Velserus, Schottus, Isaac Casaubon, Fronto Duca3us, Janus Gruterus, Hoeschelius, &c. In the eighth volume are inserted sir Henry Savile’s own notes, with those of the learned John Bois, Thomas Allen, Andrew Downes, and other learned men. The whole charge of this edition, including the several sums paid to learned men, at home and abroad, employed in finding out, transcribing, and collating, the best manuscripts, is said to have amounted to no less than 8000l.; but, as soon as it was finished, the bishops and clergy of France employed, somewhat unfairly, as has been said, Fronton Due, or Fronto Ducaeus, who was a learned Jesuit, to reprint it at Paris, in 10 vols. folio, with a Latin translation, which lessened the price of sir Henry’s edition; yet we are told, that the thousand copies | which he printed were all sold*. In 1618, he published a Latin work, written by Thomas Bradwarclin, abp. of Canterbury, against Pelagius, entitled, 5. “De Causa Dei contra Pelagium, et de virtute causarum;” to which he prefixed the life of Bradwardin. This book was printed from six Mss. carefully collated. 6. “Nazianzen’s Steliteutics,1610. Towards this, says Oldys, he was favoured with the ms epistles of Nazianzen out of the Bod* leian library, “which was a singular courtesy, and done because of his affection to the storing and preserving of the library,” as if any thing could have been refused to such a benefactor. 7. “Xenophon’s Institution of Cyrus,” Gr. 1613, 4to. In 1621, he published a collection of his own mathematical lectures. 8. <: Praelectiones Tredecim in principium Elementorum Euclidis Oxoniae habitae,“4to. 9.” Oratio coram Elizabetha Regina Oxonice hahita, anno 1592,“Oxon. 1658, 4to; published by Dr. Barlow from the original in the Bodleian library, and by Dr. Lamphire, in the second edition of *‘ Monarchia Britannica,Oxford, 1681, 8vo. 10. He translated into Latin king James’s 46 Apology for the Oath of Allegiance.“Six letters of his, written to Hugo Blotius, and Sebastian Tenguagelius, keepers of the imperial library, were published in Lambecius’s” Bibliotheca,“vol. III.; four are printed among” Camdeni fcpistolae,“and others are in the Cotton and, Harleian Mss. He was also concerned in the new translation of the Bible, executed by command of James I. being one of the eight persons at Oxford who undertook to translate the four Gospels, Acts, and Revelations. He left behind him several Mss. some of which are now in the Bodleian library, such as 1.” Orations.“2.” Tract of the original of Monasteries.“3.” Tract concerning the Union of England and Scotland, written at the command of king James I.’ 1 He wrote notes likewise upon the margin of many books in his library, particularly of Eusebius’s

* This work required such long and before Chrysostom was finished, when

close application, that sir Henry’s lady sir Henry lay sick, said, " If sir

thought herself neglected, and coming Harry ujed, she would burn Chrysosto him one day into his study, she torn for killing her husband." Which

said, “Sir Henry, I would I were a Mr. Eois hearing, told her,” That

book too, and then you would a little would be a great pity, for he was one

more respect me." To which one of the sweetest preachers since the

standing by, replied, “.You must then apostles’ times;” with which she was,

be an almanack, madam, that he might so satisfied, that she said, " she weuld

change every year“which answer dis- not do it for all the world.” pleased her. The same lady, a little | Ecclesiastical History,” which were afterwards used, and thankfully acknowledged, by Valesius, in his edition of that work in 1659. He is mentioned as a member of the society of Antiquaries, in the introduction to the “Archseologia,” and indeed there was no literary honour at that time of which he was not worthy.

He had a younger brother, Thomas Savile, who was admitted probationer-fellow of Merton college, Oxford, in 1580; afterwards travelled abroad into several countries; upon his return, was chosen fellow of Eton college; and died at London in 1592-3, whence his body was removed to Oxford, and interred with great solemnity in the choir of Merton college chapel. He was a man of great learning, and an intimate friend of Camden; among whose letters there are fifteen of Mr. Savile' s to him.

There was another Henry Savile, related to the above family, and familiarly called Long Harry Savile, who entered a student of Merton college in 1587, during the wardenship of sir Henry, and was soon after made one of the portionists, commonly called postmasters. After taking the degree of B. A. he left Merton college, and removed to St. Alban-hall, where in 1595, he took the degree of M. A. Under the inspection of his learned kinsman, he became an eminent scholar, especially in the mathematics, physic (in which faculty he was admitted by the university to practise), chemistry, painting, heraldry, and antiquities. Afterwards, in order to extend his knowledge, he travelled into Italy, France, and Germany, where he greatly improved, himself He is said to have written several things, but non$ have been published. He gave Camden the ancient copy of ^sser Menevensis, which he published in 1602, and which contains the legendary story of the discord between the new scholars which Grimbald brought with him to Oxford, at the restoration of the university by king Alfred, &c. This Henry Savile lived some years after his return from the continent, in the parish of St. Martin’s in the Fields, London, and dying there April 29, 1617, aged forty-nine, was buried in the chancel belonging to the parish church, where was a monument to his memory. Among the Cotton Mss. is a letter from him to Camden, “concerning antiquities near Otley in Yorkshire.

There still remains one of this family to be noticed, sir John Savile, elder brother to sir Henry, who was born at Bradley in 1545, and entered a commoner of Brasenose | college about 1561, whence, without taking a degree, he went to the Middle Temple for the study of the law. Being called to the bar, he became autumn reader of that house in 1586, steward of the lordship of Waken“eld, serjeant at law in 1594, one of the barons of the exchequer in 1598, and at the same time one of the justices of assize. In July 1603, a little before his coronation, king James conferred the honour of knighthood on him, being one of the judges who were to attend that solemnity. He died at London, Feb. 2, 1606, aged sixty-one, and was buried at St. Dunstan’s church, Fleet-street, but his heart was buried in Methley church, Yorkshire, where is a monument to his memory, erected by his son. Camden acknowledges the assistance he received from sir John Savile in his historical labours. He left at his death several pieces fit for publication, but none have appeared, except” Reports of divers cases in the courts of common pleas and exchequer, from 22 to 3 6Elizabeth," a thin folio, printed first in 1675, and again in 1688. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. I. Biog. Brit. Watson’s Halifax. Harwood’s Alumni Etoneuses, p. 9 and 62. Peck’s Desiderata. —Strype’s Whitgift, p. 244. -Letters fey Eminent Persons, 1813, 3 vols, 8vo. Wood’s Annals.