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was offered his choice of acting second in command or returning home, and promptly chose the latter, thus escaping all share in the disaster of Almanza (Boyer, Annals of Queen Anne, 1735, pp. 244–5). He was afterwards charged with having systematically thwarted and disparaged Galway, and it is certain that during his stay in Spain he attached himself to the faction of Galway's chief opponent, Charles's sinister adviser, Noyelles.

Shortly after his return in April 1708, he was made general of horse at Marlborough's suggestion (ib. p. 338; Murray, Marlborough Despatches, iii. 719), and sworn a privy councillor. When the post of constable of the Tower fell vacant in 1709, Marlborough, intending the appointment for the Duke of Northumberland, politely parried Rivers's appeal to secure the post for him. But Rivers already foresaw the coming eclipse of the whigs, and, losing no time in paying his court to the opposite party, he procured from Harley a promise of support for his candidature. He met with an unexpected triumph. When Marlborough requested an audience with the queen to discuss the appointment, he was astounded to learn that the post had been bestowed upon Rivers. The incident was the first visible sign of the impending change of government (Swift, Change in the Queen's Ministry). In the following year Rivers, now high in court favour, was sent as plenipotentiary to the elector of Hanover on a delicate errand, that of removing from the electoral mind any unfavourable impression caused by the tory reaction in England, and the marked favour shown to avowed Jacobites. He sailed from Harwich on 22 Aug. 1710, arrived at Hanover on 19 Sept., dined with the elector on the following day, and returned next month. The mission was mainly ceremonial, and proved quite ineffectual in throwing dust in the eyes of George and Sophia. In January 1711 Rivers was created master of the ordnance in place of Marlborough, and colonel of the blues. He was constant in his attendance in the House of Lords at this period (cf. Wentworth Papers, passim), and was intimate with Swift and the coterie that surrounded Harley. He was a member of the Saturday Club when it was most select, and distanced them all in hostility to his old patron Marlborough (cf. Journal to Stella, 18, 25 Feb. and 12, 19 May 1711). Early in 1712 his health, undermined by his profligacy, suddenly gave way, and he went down to Bath, whence several false reports of his death reached London. He returned to die at his house in Ealing Grove, Middlesex, on 18 Aug. 1712; he was buried at Macclesfield on 4 Oct. He married at Chiswick, on 21 Aug. 1679, Penelope, daughter of Roger Downes of Wardley, Lancashire, by whom he left a daughter Elizabeth; she married James Barry, fourth earl of Barrymore, and kept up a great state at Rock Savage in Cheshire (whither her father had removed from the old family seat at Halton) until her death in 1731; her daughter Penelope married General George Cholmondeley (d. 1775), son of George, second earl of Cholmondeley [q. v.], and died in 1786, after which Rock Savage fell into decay. The earldom descended upon Rivers's death to his cousin, John Savage (1665–1735), grandson of John, the second earl; he was educated at Douai, and ordained a priest in the Roman catholic church (in which he was known as Father Wilson) about 1710, shortly after which he was made canon of Liège; for some years previous to his cousin's death he resided at Ealing, where Swift records that he was treated little better than a footman; upon his death in 1735 the peerage became extinct.

Mackay says of Rivers: ‘He was one of the greatest rakes in England in his younger days, but always a lover of the constitution of his country; is a gentlemen of very good sense and very cunning; brave in his person; a lover of play, and understands it well; hath a very good estate and improves it every day; something covetous; a tall, handsome man and of a very fair complexion;’ to which Swift adds ‘an arrant knave in common dealings, and very prostitute.’ ‘He left a legacy,’ says the same commentator, ‘to about 20 paltry old wh-r-s by name, and not a farthing to any friend, dependent, or relation; I loved the man, but detest his memory.’ These particulars are confirmed by Rivers's will. He left 500l. to Mrs. Oldfield, and 10,000l. (together with Ealing Grove) to his illegitimate daughter Bessy, who married Frederick, third earl of Rochford, and was mother of Richard Savage Nassau Zulestein. By Lady Macclesfield he had two children, a daughter and a son, born on 16 Jan. 1697, and christened at St. Andrew's, Holborn, as Richard Smith (cf. Croker, Boswell, p. 62). Richard Savage [q. v.], the poet, put forward, but did not substantiate, his claim to be a son of Earl Rivers.

[Lives and Characters of the most Illustrious Persons who died in 1712; G.E.C.'s Peerage; Chester's London Marriage Licenses; Ormerod's Hist. of Cheshire, i. 497; Beaumont's Hist. of Halton Castle, pp. 127–33; G. S. A[rmstrong]'s Savages of the Ards, 1888, p. 55; Faulkner's Hist. of Ealing, 1845, p. 247; Memoir of