Elizabeth Savage, Countess Rivers
On 14 May 1602, Elizabeth married Thomas Savage and they had eleven sons and eight daughters. He was the eldest son of Sir John Savage, 1st Baronet and his wife Mary née Allington, from whom he inherited Melford Hall in Suffolk. In 1615, he inherited his father's baronetcy and was created Viscount Savage in 1626. On his death in 1635, Elizabeth (by now Viscountess Savage) inherited Melford, which, with St Osyth Priory in Essex, formed her principal residences.
On death of Lady Savage's father in 1640, the earldom of Rivers passed to her eldest son, John. As compensation for not enjoying the rank of a countess (due to the title passing to the heir-male in a female line), she was created Countess Rivers for life in 1641.
As well as inheriting property and being raised in rank following the death of her father and husband, she also inherited their political and religious allegiances that would later lead to her downfall in the English Civil War. Both men were closely associated with Charles I, had links with George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and both had enforced the king's policies in their respective counties (Essex in the case of Lord Rivers and Lancashire and Cheshire in the case of Lord Savage). Lady Rivers and her husband had both served in Queen Henrietta Maria's court as a Lady of the Bedchamber and Chancellor respectively, and these appointments reflected the family's strong Catholic links. Lady Rivers' father had been suspected of being a Papist, but enjoyed royal protection against recusancy legislation, although he was excluded from the county magistracy.
Following parliament's explanation of the ineffectual settlement with the king to have been caused by a Catholic conspiracy, local grievances heightened rumour and suspicion and Lady Rivers was presented to the Essex court as a recusant and her home at St Osyth was searched for arms. Following the attack on Sir John Lucas at Colchester during the Stour Valley riots, St Osyth was ransacked and plundered by the crowds. Forewarned, Lady Rivers had fled to Long Melford but the crowds followed her there and almost destroyed that residence also. According to a local story, Lady Rivers, upon also escaping Melford, threw a box with a string of pearls into a nearby pond before fleeing.
Although attacked by the masses in opposition of her family's association with the king and their religious patronage, Lady Rivers was able to secure support from those that did not share the same views. Parliament later ordered her estates to be restored to her, but her tenants subsequently refused to pay rent. After a second episode of invasion of her estates by Parliamentarian soldiers, she sought permission to go to France in May 1643. After her return, she successfully petitioned Parliament to have her estates restored again, but the attacks on them and the fines imposed upon her and her son left her penniless. On her death in 1651, she was said to have been bankrupt and was buried at St Osyth with her ancestors.
|Ancestors of Elizabeth Savage, Countess Rivers|