George Savile 1st marquess of Halifax

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Halifax, George Savile, 1st marquis of (1633–95). Politician and essayist. Halifax both epitomized and advocated the ‘middle path’ in politics (‘the Trimmer’), but in the shifting partisan atmosphere of the post-Restoration era he was regarded as an oddity, with whom few politicians could work easily. A wealthy Yorkshire baronet, and of royalist background, he entered politics in the 1660s and was made a viscount in 1668. But successive administrations felt the edge of his finely tuned intellect. Initially hostile towards Clarendon, he was then critical of the pro-catholic policies of the cabal, and then of the Anglican reaction of Danby. He emerged by 1679 as a firm opponent of ‘exclusion’, was reappointed to the Privy Council and in 1682 was created a marquis. As lord privy seal, however, he was increasingly unhappy in the enclaves of high Toryism. In 1685 James II dismissed him. Although in 1688 he threw aside his neutrality and supported William of Orange, he soon found himself out of favour with other power-politicians and retired in 1690. See trimmer.

Andrew Hanham

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George Savile 1st marquess of Halifax