June 23, 2013
Throughout their lives, my parents had encouraged me and my siblings to learn about our ancestors on both sides of the family, and I expect they had appreciated how important that knowledge would be to us one day in looking back on our nomadic childhood and teen years. Roots. We all need them. We all have them. Somewhere. And they can be found. We just have to do a little digging, perhaps with the help of online genealogy sites. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do that, since both my great-grandfather and grandfather had a keen interest in the subject, and had already compiled and authored a book about the Savarys and their various name spellings and derivations. (See entry dated July 3, 2013 below.)
The history of my dad’s family in Nova Scotia goes back to the arrival of Nathan Savary from Massachusetts at the end of the American Revolutionary War. He had fought for the Continental Army, and after his release from it, he made it clear that he’d “fought for the redress of grievances, but not for independence”. So he came to N.S. with other Loyalists, where he married Deidamia Sabean (his second wife) in Digby in 1785.
Their son Sabine was born in 1788, and became a leader in the commercial life of Digby as well as being instrumental in developing “the Boston trade”. I remember when my husband Dennis and I attended the “historic site” designation ceremony with my parents at the house Sabine had built back in 1820. It is located in Plympton, Nova Scotia, right across the highway from Savary Provincial Picnic Park on St. Mary’s Bay (property donated to the province in 1962). This was the home in which my great-grandfather A.W. Savary (1831-1920) was born –“lawyer, legislator, judge, and historian; Inspector of Schools, Digby County 1869-1872; Member of Parliament, Digby 1867-1874; County Court Judge for Annapolis, Digby and Yarmouth 1876-1907; author of History of Annapolis County as well as other writings”. A photograph and description of the house may be found on page 126-127 of Seasoned Timbers. Volume 1: A sampling of historic buildings unique to western Nova Scotia (Halifax, The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, 1972)
Besides compiling the genealogy, my great-grandfather was also responsible for the publication of the following book: History of the County of Annapolis: including old Port Royal and Acadia, with memoirs of its representatives in the provincial parliament, and biographical and genealogical sketches of its early English settlers and their families / by the late W.A. Calnek, member of the Nova Scotia Historical Society ; edited and completed by A.W. Savary, M.A., author of the “Savery Genealogy”, Judge of the County Courts of Nova Scotia, Member of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, the Wiltshire (England) Archaeological Society, and the American Historical Society. “With Portraits and Illustrations”. (Toronto : William Briggs; Montreal : C.W. Coates; Halifax : S.F. Huestis; London : Phillimore & Co., 36 Essex St., Strand. 1897)
Glued inside the front cover of this book is a newspaper clipping with the Headline: Judge Savary is Dead, Aged 89: Last Surviving Member of Fathers of Confederation Died Today.
Beside it, on my bookshelf, sits the Supplement to the History of the County of Annapolis: correcting and supplying omissions in the original volume. “With Portraits and Illustrations” / by A. W. Savary, M.A., D.C.L., editor and part author of the History (Toronto : William Briggs, 1913). In addition to memberships in the societies listed on the original volume’s title page, a few more are mentioned here, including the Champlain Society, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (corresponding member), and the Manorial Society, England (An Honorary Fellow).
My grandfather, A.W. Savary’s son Thomas William, also had a deep connection with, and impact on, the life of Nova Scotia, his home province. Dr. T.W. Savary was the Rector and Archdeacon of St. Paul’s Church, Halifax for eighteen years (1930-1948), but that’s another story, which I will add to very soon. As you can see, my roots in Nova Scotia run very, very deep!
July 3, 2013
My Main Reference Source:
The title page of my great-grandfather’s book contains a rather lengthy description, as you will see if you click on the photo. In spite of that cumbersome title, I’ve always enjoyed dipping into sections of the family history compiled and written by my great-grandfather. The following were some of the tidbits of information I discovered between its covers:
- The name Savary, originating in France, means “Prince of the Sword”, and it arrived in England with the Norman invasion, sometime between the year 1086 and the last quarter of the following century.
- The French connection: In 1212, Savary de Mauleon rose in arms against John of England in Poitiers, and Pierre Savary was one of the arbitrators or ambassadors on behalf of the French king in negotiating the peace that followed.
- Savary, Duc de Rovigo was Napoleon’s minister of police and “most devoted adherent”.
- “Thomas Savery of Shilston, ‘Captain of Engineers’, whose merits as the true inventor of the steam engine, long eclipsed by the later glory of Watt, [is] now receiving a tardy recognition.”
- “Several distinct traditions in the Plymouth branches represent the early Saverys as remarkable for greatness of stature, aquiline or Roman nose, and black hair contrasting with blue eyes …” (So that explains it! My nose, that is!)
- Nathaniel Savory was born in 1794, and in 1830, he embarked on an adventure by sea. He fitted out at Oahu, one of the Sandwich Islands, then sailed to and made a settlement on Peel Island, one of the Bonin Islands in the North Pacific. Chambers Encyclopaedia describes the former Japanese island as having a “motley colony–an Englishman, an Italian, a Dane, two Americans and fifteen Sandwich-Islanders…under
the auspices of a ‘union jack’.” A member of Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan in 1858 wrote, “…One Nathaniel Savory, a New England Yankee, is looked up to as a sort of patriarch of the people.” Then further on, “… he has constructed a still and is famous for making the best rum in all the Bonins.” An article in the July 1968 volume of the National Geographic Magazine discusses the return of the Bonin Islands and Iwo Jima to Japanese ownership, and there are Savory descendents mentioned on practically every page.