Thursday, May 1, 2014

The First European Settler on the Eastern Shore of Virginia

Crossword Puzzle from ESVHS's
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written by Randy Stuart (ESVHS Education Director) as part of the On-line Lesson Plan curriculum

Thomas Savage is considered by many historians to be the earliest permanent settler in any of the thirteen colonies whose descendants are known and record. His family origins and place of birth in England remain a mystery.

Ensign Thomas Savage set sail from England in 1607 aboard the John and Francis. Christopher Newport captained the ship. Thomas, recorded aged 13, may have been a cabin boy on this supply ship headed for the Jamestown Colony.

In A True Relation of such occurrences and accidents of noate (1608), John Smith recounted how an English delegation presented Powhatan with "a Boy of thirteen yeares old, called Thomas Salvage,” as Captain Christopher Newport’s son. Savage remained with Powhatan and his people for three years, learning their language and customs. His talents were put to use most effectively in the successful negotiations to end the First Anglo-Powhatan War.

Thomas later was returned to Jamestown and then sent to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. There he met the leader of the native people, King Debedeavon. His titles included ‘Ye Emperor of Ye Easterne Shore and King of Ye Great Nussawattocks” and “the Laughing King.” These two men worked together to keep the colonists at Jamestown informed concerning events which would lead to the massacre of 1622.

King Debedeavon granted Thomas Savage large tracts of land which today comprise Savage’s Neck in
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Northampton County. In 1624, according to depositions in the General Court Minutes, Savage facilitated the delivery to James City of a significant quantity of corn from the Eastern Shore. Savage continued to manage his lands and act as interpreter throughout his life.

Savage married Hannah (Ann) Elkington circa 1623 and they had one son, John.

His date of death is not of record but occurred sometime between 1631 and 1633. To honor his contributions to America’s history, a memorial tablet was placed in the Jamestown Church on May 31, 1931.

Eastern Shore of Virginia 1608 – 1967. Susie M. Ames, Ph.D. and James Egbert Mears. Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1950. (& additions)
Jamestown Narratives: Eyewitness Accounts of the Virginia Colony. The First Decade: 1606-1617. Edited by Edward Wright Haile. 1998
The Story of Virginia’s First Century. Mary Newton Stanard. J. B. Lippincott Company, 1928.
The First Seventeen Years: Virginia, 1607-1624. Jamestown Booklet No. 1. Charles E. Hatch, Jr. University of Virginia Press, 1957.
Indians in Seventeenth-Century Virginia. Jamestown Booklet No. 3. Ben C. McCary. University of Virginia Press, 1957.
The Accomac and Accohannock Indians from Early Relations. C. A. Weslager. Hickory House, 2001.
A Land As God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. James Horn. Basic Books, 2005.
Invented Scenes for Narratives/Virginia Historical Society. 9/19/2013.
Plaque Dedication to Thomas Savage. 9/19/2013.
Chesapeake Bay – Colonial Period – The Mariners’ Museum. 9/26/2013

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