Savage, John Boscawen (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 50
Savage, John Boscawen

by John Knox Laughton
1904 Errata appended.

SAVAGE, Sir JOHN BOSCAWEN (1760–1843), major-general, of a family long settled at Ardkeen, county Down, son of Marmaduke Coghill Savage, and grandson of Philip Savage of Rock Savage, Ballygalget, was born at Hereford on 23 Feb. 1760. On 5 Dec. 1762 he was gazetted to an ensigncy in the 91st foot, by virtue of a commission obtained for an elder brother who had since died. In September 1771 he was exchanged into the 48th foot, and in 1772–3 was actually serving with the regiment in Dublin and in Tobago. In 1775 he is said to have fought a duel with his colonel, which was possibly the cause of his selling out in 1776. In January 1777 he obtained a commission as lieutenant of marines. In 1778 he was embarked on board the Princess Amelia; in 1779–80 he was in the Bedford in the Channel, in the action off Cape St. Vincent, and at the relief of Gibraltar; in 1782–3 he was in the Dolphin in the West Indies. In 1793 he was in the Niger, on the coast of Holland; on 24 April he was promoted to be captain, and embarked in command of the detachment on board the Orion, with Sir James Saumarez (afterwards Lord de Saumarez) [q. v.] In her he was present in the actions off L'Orient, off Cape St. Vincent, and at the Nile, in which last he was bruised by a cannon-ball that passed between his arm and side. It is said that before the battle began, Saumarez, having addressed the officers and ship's company, turned to Savage with, ‘Will you say a few words to your men?’ On which Savage spoke: ‘My lads, do you see that land there? Well, that's the land of Egypt, and if you don't fight like devils, you'll damned soon be in the house of bondage.’ The speech has been erroneously attributed to many other officers. In 1801 Savage was in the Ganges at Copenhagen. On 15 Aug. 1805 he was made a major; on 1 Jan. 1812 a brevet lieutenant-colonel; on 24 March 1815 lieutenant-colonel of marines; and on 20 June 1825 colonel commandant of the Chatham division. He was nominated a C.B. on 26 Sept. 1831, a K.C.H. on 22 Feb. 1833, and a K.C.B. on 25 Oct. 1839. On 10 Jan. 1837 he was promoted to be major-general unattached. By the death of his cousin in 1808 he succeeded to Rock Savage and the family estate of Ballygalget. During his later years he lived at Woolwich; was on terms of intimacy with the Duke of Clarence, and was a special favourite with the Princess Sophia, whom he used to delight with stories of the war. He died at Woolwich on 8 March 1843, and was buried there in the parish churchyard. His portrait, a copy from a miniature, is in the officers' mess-room of the Chatham division of marines. He married, in 1786, Sophia, eldest daughter of Lieutenant William Cock of the navy, by his wife Elizabeth (Ward), a cousin of Robert Plumer Ward [q. v.] the novelist. She survived him only three months, and, dying on 12 June, was buried in the same vault as her husband. A monument to their memory is in the church. Their eldest surviving son, Henry John Savage (1792–1866), became colonel of the royal engineers, attained the rank of lieutenant-general, and, having sold Rock Savage, died at St. Helier. The next son, John Morris, a colonel in the royal artillery, settled in Canada, where he died in 1876 (see Belfast News-Letter, 13 Nov.).

[United Service Magazine, 1843, I. 597; the Ancient and Noble Family of the Savages of the Ards … compiled … by G. F. A[rmstrong], pp. 221 sq.]

J. K. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.241
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
342 i 14 Savage, Sir John B.: for Princess Charlotte read Princess Sophia
32  for entered the royal read rose to be a colonel in the royal
33  for and afterwards the civil service read and settled in