George Savile was born in the well-connected Royalist family in Yorkshire. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and by a private tutor in France and Italy. Savile was returned for Pontefract to sit in the Convention Parliament of 1660. Seeking no reelection, he served as deputy lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1667 Savile was appointed captain in Prince Rupert's regiment of horse and he was elevated to the peerage in 1668 and took a seat in the House of Lords. Admitted to the Privy Council in 1672, he opposed Charles II's pro-Catholic and pro-French policies. Dismissed from the Privy Council in 1676 for continuously opposing the king's chief minister, Thomas Osborne, Earl of Danby, Savile was reinstated in the Privy Council in 1679. He was created Earl of Halifax in 1679 and Lord Privy Seal in October 1682. With the accession of James II in 1685 Halifax was demoted to Lord President of the Council, from which office he was dismissed on 21 Oct 1685 for opposing James's policy of repealing the Test and Habeas Corpus Acts.
From 1685-1688 Halifax studied and wrote political pamphlets. He acted as James's adviser and representative in negotiations with the Prince of Orange (later William III). When James fled, Halifax was elected (12 Dec 1688) on the motion of the Earl of Mulgrave to preside the meetings of the Lords, who provisionally assumed the government (see Peers of the Realm). After the king's return (16 Dec 1688) he finally sided with the Prince of Orange. Halifax also presided at the meetings when the Lords Spiritual and Temporal adopted a number of decisive resolutions of the Glorious Revolution including that of 24 Dec 1688 offering William of Orange to take the civil administration until the convocation of a convention. Elected Speaker "pro tempore" of the House of Lords on 22 Jan 1689 in the Convention Parliament, Halifax was instrumental in securing the vote to offer the crown jointly to William and Mary. He was appointed Lord Privy Seal and became a chief minister of William III. However, he was replaced in the office of Speaker (19 Oct 1689) and later he was forced to resign as Lord Privy Seal in 1690 under the pressure of both the Whig and Tory parties.