Savary Family Genealogy

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.

Family Genealogy and History

Family Genealogy and History Sources

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:

Savary Family Genealogy

Savary Family Genealogy

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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Savary, Duc de Rovigo was Napoleon’s minister of police and “most devoted adherent”.
    4. “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.”
    5. “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 of Massachusetts

  • 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
    Ancestral Links to the Bonin Islands

    Ancestral Links to the Bonin Islands

    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.

24 Responses to Savary Family Genealogy

  1. Torrey Welch says:

    Nathan Savary is also one of my ancestors. Through him, and his wife Deidamia Sabin/Sabean (through their daughter Sarah Savary). You and I can trace our family tree back to John Billington and William Brewster, who were aboard the “Mayflower”, when it came to Plymouth in 1620. Nathan Savary had another family before he came to NS. His first wife was Elizabeth Nye, and they had several children. I wonder if you know anything about Elizabeth; and whether she had died, or whether they divorced, or . . . ? I have not been able to find anything about Elizabeth (Nye) Savary after Nathan departed from Rochester, MA in ~1783.

    • Peggy Pilkey says:

      Thanks for getting in touch, Torrey. The only reference I could find to Elizabeth Nye is on page 34 of my great-grandfather A.W. Savary’s genealogy of the family, referenced in my July 3, 2013 entry above. Under the heading for Nathan Savery, I found the following: “…married, 1st, Elizabeth Nye, who is said to have been descended from a Percival family of rank in England; she left an honorable memory affectionately cherished by a respectable posterity…” Perhaps “left an honorable memory” is a gentler way, in those days, of suggesting she died.

  2. Francoise Bonnell says:

    Hello Peggy and Torrey,
    I too am a descendent of Nathan Savary…Peggy your great grandfather (AWSavary) was my Great great grandmother’s sister, Eliza Helen Savary, who married James Garden. We must have met at the ceremony at Savary House-Gardenia Lodge when it was designated a heritage property in 1990. I too was there with my parents.

  3. Peggy Pilkey says:

    Hi Francoise…Nice to hear from you! Are you related to Tom and Jeanne Marie Barnes of Berkeley, California? (I wonder if they are still alive, since my own mother died over a decade ago and my father ten years earlier.) The last time my husband and I drove by Savary House-Gardenia Lodge, we noticed the closed gate, and wondered if any family members still travel to NS from the U.S. in the summertime to enjoy the property. We always admired the Barnes family for having restored the place so beautifully.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Peggy,
      Yes, those are my parents. My father died in 2010, and is buried in the “Savary Family Plot” in Digby. My mom still goes (as we do) every summer. We are working on restoring the barn now. The gate is closed because of the dogs!
      I am still searching for info/date on the death of Elizabeth Nye Savary. Their children were young enough that they must have been left with a guardian, or perhaps the boys apprenticed to a family.
      I’ll check back to see if anyone else finds anything.

      • Torrey Welch says:

        I wondered if you had found any more information regarding Elizabeth (Nye) Savary?

        I’ve searched high and low for several decades, and have found no mention of her in public records or in family histories, after Nathan departed MA for NS.

        Several of Nathan and Elizabeth (Nye) Savary’s descendants have contacted me regarding this vexing issue; and after considering what THEY understand happened – I’ve concluded that: 1) Elizabeth passed away before Nathan’s departure – possibly while giving birth to Aaron, or 2) Nathan and Elizabeth were divorced, or 3) Nathan was driven away/abandoned his first family.

        Obviously, we are still searching . . .

        Torrey Welch

  4. Monica says:

    My husband descends from Jeremiah Sabin – Deidamia Sabin’s father. I have relatives in Plympton area and am interested learning more about Deidamia and Nathan Savary.

    • Peggy Pilkey says:

      Thanks for getting in touch, Monica. Do you own a copy of the Savery and Severy Genealogy [Savory and Savary] I mentioned above? Apparently it’s available on DVD now. Pages 15-16 of my great-grandfather’s supplement–following the indices at the back of the book–corrects a page about Nathan and Deidamia (whose mother’s name was Susanna Le Valley) that appeared in the original, and describes the marriage of their eldest daughter Sarah to an Acadian whose surname was Thibault (Later Tibbitt and Tibbitts). Of course the entries continue in great detail about her offspring and their marriages. I would have to dig a little deeper to find out about Deidamia Sabin’s father, since my great-grandfather said the original line of descent he’d given was wrong (on pg. 34). He couldn’t place the Jeremiah Sabin who married Susanna Le Valley, but knows that he moved to the Sissiboo River area around 1765, then left with his eldest son Jeremiah to Wilmot, Annapolis County and died soon after. I’m sorry I don’t know anything about the Savary families who may live in the Plympton area today. My late parents used to attend Savary family reunions once a year held at the provincial site, Savary Picnic Park, opposite the old homestead, back in the late 1970’s when they were retired in Weymouth. My family here in Halifax had always hoped to attend someday, but the timing was never quite right for us. Would be interested in hearing more about your family connections!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve done extensive research on the Sabin side too. Of course the tough part are the spellings. So, Sabin was the original name, with other spellings are Sabine, Sabean. Daedamia Sabin’s father, Jeremiah Sabin “Jr.”, was born 1732 in Berwick, York, Maine, USA. He died in 1815 in Port Lorne, Annapolis, Nova Scotia. He descended from another Jeremiah Sabean, born in Rehoboth, MA who was married to Mary Abbot. He is a direct descendent of a Plymouth Colony founder, and descends from the Israel, Samuel and William Sabin line. He moved to Berwick, ME where he met Mary. Jeremiah (Daedamia’s father) arrived from ME in 1762 in Nova Soctia with his wife Susanna. Not a loyalist (in fact he and his brothers/sons went on to start the first congregationalist/baptist churches in the area), rather one of the many settlers who migrated to Canada in search of land and opportunity. This is probably the same reason why his father had moved to ME from MA. (As the extended families got so big, they literally ran out of land to subsist on.). Most of these settlers like Jeremiah, and his brother Willoughby, took the land that was abandoned by the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755. Jeremiah Sabin owned Lot 17 in “Sissiboo”, i.e. Weymouth. His sons/brothers had adjacent ones. Unlike Nathan Savary, Jeremiah’s land was granted through the Conway Grant (1783), which then was re-drawn as the Hatfield Grant (1801).

    • Peggy Pilkey says:

      Thanks for posting your findings on the Sabin, Sabine and Sabean line of descendants mentioned above, and clarifying their intentions for settling in Nova Scotia. I’m learning a lot from this discussion. I had just assumed all the settlers from MA around that time were Loyalists, but you have taught me that they were running out of land to subsist on. Sad that some of their land grants were previously owned by the Acadians prior to their 1755 Expulsion from Nova Scotia and other areas of the Maritimes. They endured a great loss of language and culture when the British forced them to abandon their farms and their homes to leave for the colonies, or alternatively, accept passage back to France. I’ll have to research the Conway Grant of 1783 and the Hatfield Grant of 1801 to learn more about this subject. Thanks for providing some answers to all of us following this thread. I’ll see if I can find out anything more about Elizabeth Nye and her offspring, too.

  6. Lorraine Rooney says:

    Judge Savary was the father of my great-grandmother Margaret Savary. She married my great-grandfather Athlon Rooney. She passed away when my grandfather Clayton Rooney was a young child. Have seen the book. Would like to know if there is any way to get a copy of it

    • Peggy Pilkey says:

      Thanks for getting in touch, Lorraine. In answer to your question, the book is now available in digital format. I did an Internet search, and found a link to a site from which you can order a CD-ROM: I also noticed that Google scanned the full text of the original book–“A Genealogical and Biographical Record of the Savery Families (Savory and Savary) and of the Severy Family (Severit, Savery, Savory and Savary): descended from ….” at The supplement is also available at those sites. If you would prefer to own a print copy, it’s possible you’ll find a copy at a website dealing in rare books. I hope you’ll find what you’re looking for.

      • Charles Rowe says:

        Hello, I’ve been trying to locate a photo of the gravestone for Nathan and Deidamia Savary located at Savary Park in Plympton. I’m not sure if one exists or if I can pay to have one taken. I, too, am a direct descendant. I was hoping you might be able to point me in the right direction. Thank You.

        • Peggy Pilkey says:

          I’m sorry I don’t know where it might be located, but I’ll try to find out. Francoise Bonnell, an earlier commentator on this thread, has a direct connection to this conversation. Her mother and siblings are owners of the original Savary homestead built in 1820 by Nathan and Deidamia’s son Sabine. The heritage property is known as Gardenia Lodge, Savary House, and is opposite Savary Provincial Park which you mention. I believe there may be a grave site on the property itself, and it’s possible that Nathan and Deidamia are buried there, or in the old graveyard in Digby. Please let me know if you find a definitive answer to your question. I’ll keep checking, too.

  7. RC Johnson says:

    I am a descendant of Abraham Brooks and Susannah Sabin daughter of Jeremiah and Susanah LaValley. When I applied for membership in the Mayflower society as a Billington descendant I was told by my state historian that the Jeremiah and Susan LaValley connection was too circumstantial. to be accepted. I was wondering if other Sabean descendants through this line have been accepted by the Mayflower Society ?

    • Peggy Pilkey says:

      My apologies for not answering this question so many months ago! I didn’t have an answer to it, and had intended to do a little research on the topic, but I still haven’t come up with an answer. In my great-grandfather’s supplement to his Savery and Severy Genealogy, he mentions that the line of descent that he’d given earlier for Nathan’s second wife Deidamia is wrong. (“…daughter of Jeremiah Sabin, fifth in descent from William, of Rehoboth, Mass., through Benjamin(2), Jeremiah(3), Jeremiah(4)”)…”Her mother’s name was Susanna Levalley or Lavallee, whose paternal ancestors were either Huguenots, directly from France, or from the Channel Islands, among the colonists who founded Marblehead.” In the supplement, the author says Jeremiah Sabin was not the Jeremiah who came to Nova Scotia, for “he removed from Pomfret, Conn., to Pawlings, Dutchess Co., N.Y., where he married and had children”. Quote: “I am unable to place the Jeremiah who married Susanna Le Valley. He came to Yarmouth County with his wife and older children about 1765, and later removed with his eldest son, Jeremiah, to Wilmot, Annapolis County, where he died soon afterward, very aged.”–A.W. Savary. Confused? I am, too!

  8. Francoise Barnes Bonnell says:

    Nathan and Deidamia and one of their infant children, Lemuel, are buried on the old homestead property. It was placed on a rising across the road from the house above Savary Cove and at the mouth of Savary Brook where it flows into St. Mary’s Bay. It is completely accessible to the public. When my great-grandmother donated the property in 1968 for the provincial park, known as Savary Park now, a stipulation was that the cemetery had to be maintained and a path cut to it. It is located near the last bend in the park road before going up the incline to the exit. I share this with you and others in hopes that it will be visited by their descendents. The remainder of the Savary family, and the Garden’s and now Barnes’, since my father died in 2010, are buried in the Anglican cemetery behind Wilson’s hardware in Digby in the family plot. I will send a picture to both to you and Peggy to use or post. I am in Plympton at least twice a summer with my mother.
    Francoise Barnes Bonnell

    • Peggy Pilkey says:

      Thanks for passing on this information, Francoise. It’s nice to know where the various grave sites are located. When Dennis and I make a trip down that way again, we’ll have a better idea where to find Nathan and Deidamia’s burial site. I’m sure other readers of this thread are learning as much from you as I am. Please give my regards to your mother. I remember her giving us a tour of Gardenia Lodge/Savary House, and being impressed by your parents’ ongoing restoration of it, while adhering to historical accuracy in the details. Enjoy your summer!


    Thank-you for your reply, I am working on the theory that Jeremiah Saben is in fact from Berwick, Maine. There is a baptism record and military record for Jeremiah from Berwick. I am also looking at the possibility that Susannah LaVally’s last name was other than LaVally possibly Labarre or Libby. Those names are prominent in the Berwick, ME area during the time in question. A Libby family history has Susannah Libby born in Berwick, however there is little information about her. I am hoping DNA data will some day answer the question as to where our Jeremiah came from. The search continues.

    • Peggy Pilkey says:

      I’ve found references to three possible spellings of Susannah LaVally’s surname in my great-grandfather’s genealogy: Levalley as one word, Lavallee (with an acute diacritic over the first ‘e’) and Le Valley as two words. I hope you find answers to your questions about Susanna’s lineage. Maybe you are on to something with the suggestion that her name could have originally been Labarre or Libby. Best wishes.

  10. Nan Agnes Lowe says:

    My Grandmother was Agnes SAVORY, grand-daughter of Nathan Savory who was one of the original settlers of the Bonin Islands (as mentioned in the original posting) – I am just recently learning about the Savory family history.

    • Peggy Pilkey says:

      Thanks for getting in touch, Nan. I was fascinated by the article about the Bonin Islands in the National Geographic published decades ago, and never expected to hear from anyone with a connection to the adventurer Nathan Savory. It’s amazing how the Internet has changed all our lives, and our ability to explore our ancestral roots. Enjoy your research; I hope you’ll continue to uncover new and surprising stories from your family history!

  11. Nan Lowe says:

    I am certainly on a journey, having connected with distant cousins descended from Nathaniel Savory on the Bonin Islands. I reconnected with a first cousin here in Ontario who is also researching the Bonin Island branch and we are sharing information. I have also started tracing the family back through New England and into the United Kingdom. I am fascinated with this family

    • Peggy Pilkey says:

      It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to connect with descendants of the Bonin Island Savorys. I always found the story of Nathaniel and his fellow adventurers there a fascinating one, even though I don’t seem to be directly related to him. If you find any connection with the Savarys of Wiltshire, England, I’d love to know more about that. Nathaniel was the sixth generation descendant of Robert Savory, and I guess there was speculation that Robert Savory may have been the son of a William Savery, who travelled over to R.I. on the ship “The Mary and John” following the path of a Thomas Savery who had arrived in Plymouth a year earlier. I may be confused about those details, and would welcome comments from anyone who would be able to enlighten me! Thanks for getting in touch again!

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