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Washington & Northern Virginia Company -- Biographies of Ancestors of Members
Thomas Savage

Thomas Savage at age thirteen came to Virginia arriving on 8 January 1608 with the First Supply under Captain Christopher Newport. In February Captain Newport, cognizant of John Smith's recent capture and subsequent release by the Indian chief, Powhatan, set out to meet Powhatan at his village, Werowocomoco, on the York River. Among his party of thirty was young Thomas Savage.


On the second day of the visit Newport, calling him his "son", gave Savage to the chief, and in return received an Indian named Namontacke, said by Powhatan to be his trusty servant. This was to be an opportunity for Thomas Savage to learn the local Indian language, an event that shaped his subsequent life by making him in time the colony's chief interpreter. At first Savage was used to carry gifts of food to the colony and then after a few months was returned to the colony to stay while a replacement was requested. For a while no replacement was allowed, then

finally Savage was returned to Powhatan. Having spent three years living with the Indians, he next appears in the record in 1614 after the marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. He was now an interpreter accompanying Ralph Hamor to meet Powhatan on a mission for the governor, Thomas Dale, in which another daughter of Powhatan was being sought as a bride for Dale. This mission was, however, unsuccessful as Powhatan said that one daughter gave him enough assurance of English friendship.

       By 1621 Thomas Savage is thought to have been the first permanent English settler resident on the Eastern Shore. John Pory, Secretary of the Colony, having visited the Eastern Shore about this time, said of Thomas Savage "With much honestie and good success [he] hath served the publike without any publike recompence, yet had an arrow shot through his body in their service." From the king of the Accomack tribe on the Eastern Shore he received about 9000 acres at the place known subsequently as Savage's Neck.  

   Savage's relations with the Indians remained good. The "Laughing King of Accomac" reported to him that Opechancanough had sent an Indian in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Savage for diverting trade from his area to the Eastern Shore. At the time of the March 1622 massacre, the Eastern Shore Indians remained friendly to the colonists, with much credit for

this thought to be due to Savage.
       On 7 March 1624 it was "Ordered that Ensign Thomas Savage shall interpret for the good of the Plantation of Accomack according to such directions as he shall receive from Captain William Epes or else to bond of 200 pounds sterling not to have any conference or familiaritie with Indians of those parts."


In the census of 1624 he was listed as living on the Eastem Shore, and in the muster of 1625 as Ancient Thomas Savage, having left England in 1607 on the John and Francis. His wife, Hannah, (also referred to as Ann) was listed in the same muster as having arrived in 1621 on the Sea Flower and later patented 50 acres in Accomacke as her dividend for paying her own way.


Thomas Savage is thought to have died between 12 Aug 1631 and 24 September 1633 when the widow Hannah Savage was shown standing bond of 500 pounds sterling for her neighbor (and by 1638 her second husband), Daniel Cugley. She had died by May 1641.

Thomas had one child, a son John, born about 1624, who represented Northampton in the House of Burgesses from 1665 to 1676 and died about 1678. John had three daughters by his first wife, Ann Elkington and three sons and two daughters by his second wife, Mary Robins.

1. "America's First Family: The Savages of Virginia", by August Burghard; Dorrance & Company, Philadelphia, PA, 1974
2. "General Historie", by John Smith, 1624, Vol Four; p. 142; published in "The Complete Works of Captain John Smith", edited by Philip L. Barbour; Vol 11, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1986

Nov 04