Thirty-second in a series of biographical sketches of qualifying ancestors of the Jamestowne Society whose descendants belong to the First Mississippi Company
Thomas Savage arrived in Jamestown in 1608 at the age of 13 on the John and Francis; soon thereafter, Captain Newport gave him to Chief Powhatan to learn the Algonquin language and promote trade between the English and the Indians. Powhatan was fond of Savage, and he lived at Werowocomoco among the Indians for nearly three years until the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609-1614) broke out. In 1610, aware that he might be in danger, Savage invented an excuse to go to Jamestown on an errand and stayed there.
Peace then prevailed after the 1614 marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. Savage returned to Werowocomoco to try, with Ralph Hamor, to help arrange a marriage between Powhatan’s youngest daughter and Sir Thomas Dale. When Powhatan saw Savage again, he scolded Savage for escaping: “My childe you are welcome, you have bin a straunger to me these foure yeers, at what time I gave you to go to Paspahae [Jamestown] . . . to see your friends, and till now you never returned.”
What Savage did between 1614 and 1619 is unknown, but by 1619 he was living on the John Martin plantation. In 1621 Savage and John Pory went to the Eastern Shore where the Occohannock and Accomack Indians lived on two trading expeditions. The tribes were friendly to the English and Savage became good friends with Esmy Shichans, the Laughing King of the Eastern Shore.
By 1618 Powhatan was dead, and Opechancanough controlled the Powhatans. He then plotted to kill the English by poisoning them with a deadly plant found in Accomack and needed to obtain it from Esmy Schicans, who refused to give it to him. Shichans warned Savage of the danger; Savage informed Governor Sir Francis Wyatt, who believed Opechancanough wanted peace and did not heed the warning. On 22 March 1622, Opechancanough led the Powhatans in an attack that killed over 347 colonists, beginning the Second Anglo-Indian War (1622-1632).
Governor Yardley and William Eppes forced Savage to serve as the official interpreter of Accomack from 1625 to 1627. In 1621 Esmy Shichans gave Savage 9,000 acres of land in Accomack that became and still is known as Savage’s Neck. In 1623 Savage married Hannah (also called Ann) who had come to VA in 1621 on the Seaflower. Their son John, born in 1624, served in the House of Burgesses. Savage prospered as a fur trader and established a plantation called Savage’s Choice, having been an Ancient Planter, as well as Indian Interpreter. He died before September 1633, when his son John inherited his land. His wife Ann had remarried planter Daniel Cugley by 1638.
Later John Pory wrote about Savage’s service as an Indian interpreter: “With much honestie and good successe hath [Savage] served the publicke without any publicke recompence; yet had an arrow shot through his body in their service.”
Thomas Savage is an ancestor of First Mississippi Company Member Rebecca Bryars Hayes
To Our Contributors
We welcome properly researched contributions of ancestor profiles, vignettes and comments from members that focus on their ancestors’ roles in Jamestown’s history, plus other aspects of their lives, events and experiences in the colony. PLEASE NOTE that all information must be documented and backed up by primary source documents, and not unverifiable information and family and urban legends. Submissions without this backup may be rejected. Please limit contributions and blog entries solely to the ancestors themselves, and do not include subsequent lineage information. Entries should be no more than 400 words.