Savage, John (d.1586) (DNB00)

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SAVAGE, JOHN (d. 1586), conspirator, probably belonged to the Savage family of Derbyshire. As an ardent Roman catholic of impetuous temperament, he joined the army of the Duke of Parma in the Low Countries. After seeing some active service he passed through Rheims on his return to England. There he met Dr. William Gifford (1554–1629) [q. v.], who persuaded him that the assassination of Queen Elizabeth was alone capable of remedying the evil plight of English catholics. In London early in 1586 he met John Ballard [q. v.] the jesuit, and volunteered to join the conspiracy then in process of formation by Ballard and Babington for the murder of the queen and the release of Mary Queen of Scots from prison. His desperate courage rendered him a valuable ally, and Anthony Babington [q. v.] eagerly accepted his services. He was the only actor in Babington's plot who was not previously attached to the court; but his family seems to have been distantly connected with Babington's, which was also settled in Derbyshire. In 1489 John Babington and Ralph Savage were jointly licensed to found a chantry at North Wynfield, Derbyshire (The Savages of the Ards, by G. F. A[rmstrong], 1888, p. 355). Thomas Morgan and Gilbert Gifford [q. v.], the chief abettors of the conspiracy, corresponded with Savage, and at a meeting of the plotters at St. Giles's-in-the-Fields in April he was one of the six who were nominated to assassinate the queen. Agents of the government knew all at an early date, but Savage was not readily daunted. When Babington came to him distracted with the news that Ballard was arrested, he proposed to go and kill the queen at once, and Babington gave him money to buy a suitable dress. Before matters went further, however, Savage was arrested in London with Chidiock Tichbourne and Thomas Tilney. He freely confessed his complicity, and when he was tried at Westminster on 13 Sept. pleaded guilty, after a little hesitation, to the whole indictment. His confession, which he admitted was made without threat of torture, was read by the clerk of the crown. The extreme sentence of the law in cases of treason was passed. On 20 Sept. he was hanged in an open space in the parish of St. Giles's-in-the-Fields with Babington, Ballard, and others. Like Babington, he explained in a speech from the scaffold that he had been taught to regard the murder of the queen as a lawful and meritorious act. Before he was dead the rope broke, and he fell from the gallows. Much of the rest of the barbarous sentence (mutilation and quartering) was performed upon him while he was still alive.

[State Trials, i. 1130, 1157, 1158; Stow's Annales; Froude's Hist.; arts. Babington, Anthony and Gifford, Gilbert.]

S. L.