Savage Surname Genealogy

surname Savage comes from the French sauvage,
a nickname for someone with a wild disposition and fierce temper.
Another interpretation of the name was as follows:

“When first born as a surname, Le
Sauvage signified, probably not the ferocious but the forester, as
distinguished from the inhabitants of fortified towns.”

Le Sauvage was the
name of a Norman family.
The name is believed to have
crossed the Channel at or after the time of the
Norman Conquest.

Resources on

Savage Ancestry

first le Sauvage in England appears to
have been Robert le Sauvage, recorded at
Broadwater in Sussex
in the
Domesday Book of 1086. This family later
migrated to Stainsby in Derbyshire and subsequently to Clifton in
Cheshire. Another early Savage line was to
be found at Stockbury and Bobbing in Kent.
Sir Arnold le Sauvage of this family, who died in 1410, was
elected as Speaker of the House of Commons.

Cheshire By the
late 14th century the main Savage line was to be found at
Clifton in Cheshire. John Savage fought for Henry VII at Bosworth
Field in 1485; Thomas Savage was Archbishop of York in 1501; and
another Savage branch began at Elmley castle in Gloucestershire at this
time. Sir John Savage had Rocksavage, a great showpiece
Elizabethan mansion, built at Clifton in 1568.

In the 17th
the Savages were ennobled as Earl Rivers.
John Savage, the second Earl and a Catholic, played a prominent part in
raising troops for the King during the Civil War. Richard Savage
the poet was the illegitimate son of Richard, the fourth Earl.
Meanwhile, two 19th century English poets, Walter Savage Landor and
Alfred Lord Tennyson, have Savage descent.

Yorkshire There
has been a notable Savage presence in Yorkshire, dating back to
the 1360’s when Will Savage was the rector at St. Helens, Treeton near

Sir Edward Savage of the Cheshire Savages became
bailiff of Hatfield near Doncaster in 1495 and his arms are to be found
in the local church there. Savages in and around Sheffield date
from the 1600’s. George Savage was a razor grinder in the town in
the early 19th century.

Ireland. The county Down
family of Savage – Savage of the Ards – was planted there by William le
Sauvage from Kent who had served under de Courcey in his Ulster
invasion in
1177. He built his castle on the summit of the hill at Ardkeen in
the region of county Down known as the Ards. Over time, the
Savages became fully part of the Irish landscape (the Gaelic version of
their name was Mac an tSabhasaigh)
and were constantly at war with other Irish clans in the area, in
particular with their arch-rivals, the Clandeboye O’Niells.

The Savages at Portaferry established themselves as the Lord Savages of
by converting to Protestantism in the 16th
century. They changed their name to Nugent in 1812. This
prompted one disgruntled member of the family to retort that he would
“rather be an old savage than a new gent!” Lady Dorcas Savage, who died in
1835, was the last of these old Savages.

The story of the family
has been told in GF Savage-Armstrong’s 1888 book The Ancient and Noble Family of the
Savages of the Ards

Savage was an early name in Virginia history:

  • Ensign
    Thomas Savage
    was just thirteen when in 1608, soon after his
    arrival in Jamestown, he
    was given to Powhatan as a hostage by Captain Newport so that he could
    maintain Powhatan’s friendship. Later Thomas made his family home
    at Savage’s Neck on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. He died around 1627
    but left a son, Captain John Savage. Some of his Savage
    descendants have
    remained on the Eastern Shore.
  • and “Carpenter” Thomas Savage, who arrived possibly in the early
    1630’s, was a
    prominent figure in early Northampton and Accomack county
    histories. He was known as a builder of watercraft, a
    manufacturer of casks and barrels, and a large plantation

New England. Another
Thomas Savage came to
Massachusetts on the Planter
in 1635. The line from his son Habijah led to Thomas Savage and
his son Thomas, noted silversmiths of Boston and Bermuda. From
this family came:

  • Edward Savage, a famous portrait painter best known for his
    painting of George Washington in 1790. His son John became a
    wealthy ship-owner and merchant in Philadelphia trading with the
    Caribbean. A later John Savage resigned his commission during the
    Civil War and ended up living on a reduced inheritance.
  • and the Bostonian James
    Savage who was to start the first American savings bank in 1816.

Savage was in Middletown, Connecticut by the 1650’s. His
descendants included Empire Loyalists, David Savage who joined the
Mormon church, and George and
Georgetta Savage
, early settlers in Washington state on the
West Coast.

Canada. Jans Sauvage from
Brittany in France came to Canada around the year 1780 and made his
home in Nouvelle Longueuil, Quebec. Some eighty or so years
later the family name became Savage.

Australia and New Zealand.
Richard Savage emigrated to Melbourne from county Down in the late
1850’s. He and his wife Johanna raised eight children, the
youngest being a son Michael. Finding work hard to get in
Victoria, Michael emigrated to New Zealand in 1907. He involved
himself with the Labour party there and was one of its first MP’s
following the 1919 election. He became New Zealand’s first Labour
Prime Minister in 1935.

Savage Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Savage Names

William le Sauvage
was in 1170 the first of the Savages of the Ards in county Down.
John Savage, the 2nd Earl
was Catholic gentry from Cheshire. He was a key supporter of
Charles I during the Civil War.
Jim Savage was the California
pioneer who discovered the Yosemite valley.
, of Irish parentage, was the first Labour Prime Minister
of New Zealand,
taking office in 1935.

Select Savages

  • 24,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Hertfordshire)
  • 18,000 in America (most numerous
    in New York)
  • 9,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).



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