The Savage Family Name

Savage Name Meaning

English and Scottish: nickname for a wild or uncouth person, from Middle English, Old French salvage, sauvage ‘untamed’ (Late Latin salvaticus literally ‘man of the woods’, a derivative of Latin silva ‘wood’, influenced by Latin salvus ‘whole’, i.e. natural). Irish: generally of English origin (it was taken to County Down in the 12th century), this name has also sometimes been adopted as equivalent of Gaelic Ó Sabháin, the name of a small south Munster sept, which was earlier Anglicized as O’Savin (see Savin). Americanized form of Ashkenazic Jewish Savich.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, or to habits of dress or occupation.

Savage has the distinction of being first recorded in the Domesday Book (see below). Further early examples include: Robert le Sauuage (Surrey, 1198) and Ralph le Savage (Suffolk, 1268). The surname is particularly well recorded in the Province of Ulster, and the great Co. Down family of Savage – Savage of the Ards – was planted there by John de Courcey, a Norman invader, as early as 1177. The “Annals of the Four Masters” mention that the name was Gaelicized as “Mac an tSabhasaigh”, and accept that the English settlers there became hibernicized.

Thomas Savage, “a tayler”, aged 27 yrs., who embarked from London on the ship “Planter” bound for New England in April 1635, was among the first of the name to enter America.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edric Saluvage, which was dated 1086, in the “Domesday Book for Herefordshire”, during the reign of King William 1st, known as “William the Conqueror”, 1066 – 1087.

Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.