Book details history of Savage family
Three generations of the Savage family have left an indelible print on Bermuda’s history.
This month brothers William and Peter Savage followed in the ancestor’s footsteps and returned to the Island to see the exploits of three generations of their forefathers put into print.
“Dr Savage’s Bermuda” traces the lives of Johnson Savage, who came to Bermuda in 1833 to take up a three-year posting as surgeon for the Royal Artillery, his son, Arthur Savage, a midshipman in the Royal Navy based in Bermuda in the early 1860s and his grandson, Arthur Johnson Savage, who completed the 1901 Ordnance Survey map of the Island.
The Savage brothers, who together with their sister, Jenifer Hancock, have been heavily involved with the book, believe it is a fitting tribute to their ancestors and were present when it was officially launched at the Bermuda National Gallery on Tuesday night.
For William Savage it was his first trip to Bermuda having only discovered his family’s links to the Island by chance when he was passed a map drawn by AJ Savage while at work in 1998.
“It was a pretty unmissable event and very special for our family,” he said.
“We made some quite complicated arrangements to ensure we would be able to attend this launch, but we were perfectly happy to go to those extreme lengths.
“It’s been a very interesting experience and amazing to be able to relate the Dr Savage’s paintings to the same buildings that exist today.
“The one thing I have found difficult to imagine is that sense of isolation that they would have felt all that time ago — it’s hard to imagine now when we are surrounded by all the modern technology.”
After arriving in Bermuda Dr Johnson Savage went on to paint a series of spectacular watercolours that today provide a unique glimpse of a bygone era of Bermuda’s history.
The book reproduces his paintings alongside present-day photographs by Allan Davidson, and includes other drawings and works of three generations of Dr Savage’s family on the Island.
The album was passed down through the generations and donated to the National Museum last year by Dr Savage’s great-great-grandchildren.
“I think Dr Savage would be amazed to see this book if he was around today, especially to see how valuable the paintings have become to Bermuda.” said William Savage.
“After all he did the watercolours in the same way as we take pictures today. To be able to pass this down to our grandchildren is a wonderful thing.”
Dr Savage’s Bermuda also includes a series of watercolours by the surgeon depicting human organs that he and another doctor at Edinburgh University, Robert Carswell, worked on as part of a project to create an encyclopedia of the human body.
It has been written by national museum executive director Edward Harris and published by the National Museum of Bermuda Press.
Peter Savage told The Royal Gazette: “We are very proud of the end result and extremely grateful to Edward Harris for all his efforts as well as Brimstone for doing a fantastic job.
“The process has been ongoing for around 18 months and has involved a lot of work from providing materials, to editing and researching our family tree.
“I believe Dr Savage would have been beaming if he could see it and I hope delighted to see that the work he, his son, and his grandson did has got this kind of exposure.
“This book means a huge amount for us, but we have also been blown away by the experience and reception we have received in Bermuda. It’s been a real journey of discovery.”