Mexborough, grandfather to the present earl, who resides in his own princely mansion, a short distance from
the village, beloved by his numerous tenantry, and honoured and revered by the poor of his neighbourhood.
In the days of our Saxon ancestors, the manor of Methley belonged conjointly to Osulph and Cnut, who,
immediately after the Conquest, were despoiled of their possessions, "to make way for the great Norman lord
Ilbert de Lacy, who made it one of the dependencies of his new fee of Pontefract."* It was subsequently granted
to the Hospital of St. Nicholas in that town, by one of the representatives of this powerful baron; for in the
eleventh year of Henry IV. a license was granted to the master or warden of that house to exchange this manor
with Sir Robert Waterton, who thus became seised of Methley.t "This Sir Robert Waterton," says Dr.
Whitaker, "'was a very distinguished character in his time. He had first, as appears from the terms of his will,
served Richard II., and afterwards Henry IV., to whom he was master of the horse. Though he survived
Henry V., he makes no mention of him; which renders it likely that, on his accession, he had withdrawn himself
from court. He was steward of the honour of Pontefract 4th Henry IV.; and was one of the knights who, with
the Earl of Westmoreland, attempted to stop the progress of Henry Earl of Northumberland in the insurrection
terminated by the death of that nobleman." J In the first folio of Camden's Britannia, complimentary mention
is made of Sir John Savile, who, about that time, seems to have become possessed of the lordship of Methley,
whether by purchase or by inheritance I am unable to state. The present noble proprietor, to whom this work
is dedicated with feelings of sincere gratitude for so generous an expression of cordiality and prompt concurrence with the wishes of its author, is not the first member of his distinguished family who, by a rare combination
of courtesy and wit, has graced the circle in which he mingles, and diffused throughout an air of hilarity and
happiness. The halls of his ancestors have long been renowned as the scene of generous and enlightened hospitality, in which the "wittiest and most learned men of the age" were wont to assemble. There is a letter §
among the Strafford papers, from Sir Henry Wotton to Sir Thomas Wentworth (afterwards Earl Strafford),
which speaks with delight of the " Methley triplicity," as he facetiously designates it, of which Henry Lord
Clifford formed one. Such guests and such converse as doubtless they would indulge in evidently imply " an
elegant and intelligent host." And hence the character which appears to have attached to this family for a long
season; for " every branch of the Saviles," says Dr. Whitaker, " has at different periods, and in different ways,
produced men of genius."||
* Loidis and Elmete, p. 268. t Ibid. p. 269.
X About two centuries and a half subsequently to this period the descendant of this brave soldier exhibited his attachment to Charles,
and his own intrepidity, by defending his isolated castle against a troop of Cromwell's horse, which had been despatched to take possession
of his family seat at Walton. On this occasion "the valiant squire raised his drawbridge, and defied the assailants in his island fortress.
Thus baffled, they seem to have contented themselves with firing their carbines and pistols into an old oak gateway, which still holds a few
of their bullets half buried in the wood." His descendant, Charles Waterton, Esq., whose " Wanderings" have furnished a museum with
stuffed birds of unparalleled beauty, and whose kindness and liberality in exhibiting the same to the public cannot be sufficiently appreciated,
resides in this seat of his comparatively modern ancestors.
§ Dated April 8th, 1628 ; Strafford's Letters, b. i. p. 45. || Loidis and Elmete, p. 273.