George Savile, Marquis of Halifax: Character of a Trimmer

Scope and Content

'Character of a Trimmer', 124 folios: (fo. 2) title-page with scribblings and a 19th century note attributing the authorship to Sir Wm Coventry; (fo. 3) preface; (fo. 9) text. There is no indication whether this is an autograph copy of Savile's work or otherwise.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) was born at Thornhill on 11 November 1633, the son and heir of Sir William Thornhill. He was created Baron Savile of Eland and Viscount Halifax in 1668. He was made a privy councillor in 1672, but was expelled from the council in 1676 for opposing Lord Danby, the head of the ministry. He was restored to the council in 1679, and thereafter created Earl of Halifax (1679), Marquis (1682) and lord privy seal (1682). In 1680 Halifax headed the opposition to the bill to exclude James II from the English throne. He was made lord president of the council on James' accession in 1685, but soon resigned in protest at the king's pro-Catholic policies. On the arrival of William of Orange in England in 1688, Halifax sought at first to mediate between William and the king, before deciding to support William's cause. He was appointed lord privy seal and chief minister in 1689, but resigned the following year after failing to form a ministry. He died on 5 April 1695. Halifax circulated the 'Character of the Trimmer' in 1685, in which he outlined his political views.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Purchased 1918.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on George Savile in Sidney Lee, ed. Dictionary of national biography, Vol. XVII (London, 1909), pp. 845-853.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.


The 'Character of a Trimmer' was printed in London, 1688, when it was attributed, incorrectly, to Sir W. Coventry, and was reprinted several times thereafter.