Richard Savage, 4th Earl Rivers

Last updated

The Earl Rivers
Personal details
Richard Savage

ca. 1654
London, Middlesex, England
Died18 August 1712 (aged 5758)
Ealing Grove, Middlesex, London, England, Great Britain
Military service
AllegianceFlag of England.svg  England (1686–1707)
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain (1707–1712)
Branch/service English Army
British Army
Years of service1686–1712
Rank General
Commands Master-General of the Ordnance
Constable of the Tower of London
Battles/wars Williamite War in Ireland
War of the Spanish Succession
Blue plaque at 9 Old Queen Street Westminster London SW1H 9HP Richard Savage Fourth Earl Rivers Governer of The Tower Of London 1660-1712 lived here.jpg
Blue plaque at 9 Old Queen Street Westminster London SW1H 9HP

General Richard Savage, 4th Earl Rivers PC (ca. 1654 – 18 August 1712) was an English nobleman and soldier who was a senior Army officer in the English and then British Army. The second son of Thomas Savage, 3rd Earl Rivers and his first wife Elizabeth Scrope, Savage was styled Viscount Colchester after the death of his elder brother Thomas in 1680, he was designated by that title until he succeeded to the peerage upon the death of his father, the 3rd Earl, in 1694. Savage served as Master-General of the Ordnance and Constable of the Tower, and was briefly commander-in-chief of the forces in lieu of James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde until his death in 1712.


Early life and career

A member of the Savage family, Richard Savage was the second son of Thomas Savage, 3rd Earl Rivers. Early in life, Richard acquired notoriety as a rake and he would carry this reputation throughout his life, fathering several bastard children and being noted for his 'dare-devilry and dissipation'. After becoming Viscount Colchester on his brother's death he entered Parliament as member for Wigan in 1681 and procured a commission in the Horseguards under Sarsfield in 1686. Savage served as MP for Wigan until 1685. He was the first nobleman and one of the first persons who joined the Prince of Orange on his landing in England in November 1688, and he accompanied William to London. Savage later became the MP for Liverpool in 1689.

Obtaining promotion in the army, he served with distinction in the Williamite war in Ireland and in the Netherlands and was made Major-General in 1698 and Lieutenant-General in 1702. In 1694 he succeeded his father as 4th Earl Rivers and could no longer continue as a Member of Parliament, instead taking his father's seat in the House of Lords. He served abroad in 1702 under Marlborough, who formed a high opinion of his military capacity and who recommended him for the command of a force for an invasion of France in 1706. The expedition was eventually diverted to Portugal, and Rivers, finding himself superseded before anything was accomplished, returned to England, where Marlborough procured for him a command in the cavalry.

The favour shown him by Marlborough did not deter Rivers from paying court to the Tories when it became evident that the Whig ascendancy was waning, and his appointment as constable of the Tower in 1710 on the recommendation of Harley and without Marlborough's knowledge was the first unmistakable intimation to the Whigs of their impending fall. Rivers now met with marked favour at court, being entrusted with a delicate mission to the Elector of Hanover in 1710, which was followed by his appointment in 1711 as Master-General of the Ordnance, a post hitherto held by Marlborough himself.

In 1708, he became one of the first members to be sworn in as a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom following the Acts of Union under Queen Anne.

Personal life

Jonathan Swift, who was intimate with Earl Rivers, speaks of him as an 'arrant knave'; but the dean may have been disappointed at being unmentioned in Rivers's will, for he made a fierce comment on the earl's bequests to his mistresses and his neglect of his friends. In June 1712 Rivers was promoted to the rank of general, and became commander-in-chief in England; he died a few weeks later, on 18 August 1712.

He married in 1679 Penelope, daughter of Roger Downes, by whom he had a daughter Elizabeth, who married the 4th Earl of Barrymore. He also left several illegitimate children, two of whom were by Anne, Countess of Macclesfield. [1] Rivers' intrigue with Lady Macclesfield was the cause of that lady's divorce from her husband Charles Gerard, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield in 1701. Richard Savage, the poet, claimed identity with Lady Macclesfield's son by Lord Rivers, but though his story was accepted by Dr Johnson and was generally believed, the evidence in its support is faulty in several respects. As Rivers left no legitimate son the earldom passed on his death to his cousin, John Savage, grandson of the 2nd earl, and a priest in the Roman Catholic Church, on whose death, about 1735, all the family titles became extinct.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough</span> British duchess (1660–1744)

Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, Princess of Mindelheim, Countess of Nellenburg, was an English courtier who rose to be one of the most influential women of her time through her close relationship with Anne, Queen of Great Britain. Churchill's relationship and influence with Princess Anne were widely known, and leading public figures often turned their attentions to her, hoping for favour from Anne. By the time Anne became queen, the Duchess of Marlborough's knowledge of government and intimacy with the Queen had made her a powerful friend and a dangerous enemy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland</span> Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland

Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, KG, PC, known as Lord Spencer from 1688 to 1702, was an English statesman and nobleman from the Spencer family. He served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1714–1717), Lord Privy Seal (1715–1716), Lord President of the Council (1718–1719) and First Lord of the Treasury (1718–1721).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton</span> Scottish aristocrat and politician

Lieutenant General James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton and 1st Duke of Brandon was a Scottish nobleman, soldier and politician. Hamilton was a major investor in the failed Darien Scheme, which cost many of Scotland's ruling class their fortunes. He led the Country Party in the Parliament of Scotland and the opposition to the Act of Union in 1707. He died on 15 November 1712 as the result of a celebrated duel in Hyde Park, Westminster, with Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun, over a disputed inheritance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Edgcumbe, 1st Baron Edgcumbe</span>

Richard Edgcumbe, 1st Baron Edgcumbe, of Mount Edgcumbe in Cornwall, was an English Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons from 1701 until 1742 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Edgcumbe. He is memorialised by Edgecombe County, North Carolina.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield</span>

Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield, was an English Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1705 to 1710. He was Lord Chief Justice from 1710 to 1718 and acted briefly as one of the regents before the arrival of King George I in Britain. His career ended when he was convicted of corruption on a massive scale and he spent the later years of his life in retirement at his home, Shirburn Castle in Oxfordshire.

Charles Gerard, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield was an English peer, soldier and MP.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent</span>

Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, KG, PC was a British politician and courtier. None of his sons outlived him, so his new title became extinct on his death. Though the house he built at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire has gone, parts of his very grand garden have survived relatively untouched.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans</span> British Duke (1670–1726)

Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans, KG was an illegitimate son of King Charles II of England by his mistress Nell Gwyn.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl</span>

John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl, KT, PC was a Scottish nobleman, politician, and soldier. He served in numerous positions during his life, and fought in the Glorious Revolution for William III and Mary II.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin</span> English courtier and politician

Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin,, styled Viscount Rialton from 1706 to 1712, was an English courtier and politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1695 and 1712, when he succeeded to the peerage as Earl of Godolphin. Initially a Tory, he modified his views when his father headed the Administration in 1702 and was eventually a Whig. He was a philanthropist and one of the founding governors of the Foundling Hospital in 1739.

Sir Francis Dashwood, 1st Baronet, of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate, London, and West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was a British merchant, landowner and Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1708 to 1713.

Samuel Masham, 1st Baron Masham, was a British courtier in the court of Queen Anne, and the husband of her favourite, Abigail Masham, Baroness Masham.

Sir Thomas Wheate, 1st Baronet, of Glympton Park, Oxfordshire was an English landowner and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1695 and 1721.

Major-General John "Jack" Hill was a British army officer and courtier during the reign of Queen Anne. While of no particular military ability, his family connections brought him promotion and office until the end of Anne's reign.

Montagu Venables-Bertie, 2nd Earl of Abingdon PC, styled Hon. Montagu Bertie until 1682 and Lord Norreys from 1682 to 1699, was an English nobleman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Churchill (British Army officer, born 1656)</span>

General Charles Churchill was a British Army officer who served during the War of the Spanish Succession and an English politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons from 1701 to 1710. He was a younger brother of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and both his military and political careers were closely connected with his brother's. Along with Marlborough's Irish Chief of Staff William Cadogan, he was one of Churchill's closest advisors. He was a Tory, in contrast to his Whig brother who tolerated and possibly used Churchill's Tory connections.

General Daniel Harvey was a British soldier and politician who was Governor of Guernsey from 1714 to 1732.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arthur Maynwaring</span>

Arthur Maynwaring or Mainwaring, of Ightfield, Shropshire, was an English official and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons from 1706 to 1712. He was also a journalist and a polemic political author.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Barry, 4th Earl of Barrymore</span> Member of the Irish peerage (1667 – 1748)

James Barry, 4th Earl of Barrymore was an Irish soldier and Jacobite politician.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sir John Walter, 3rd Baronet</span> English Member of Parliament (died 1722)

Sir John Walter, 3rd Baronet of Sarsden House, Oxfordshire was a British politician who sat in the English House of Commons between 1694 and 1717 and in the British House of Commons from 1708 to 1722.



  1. "Brett [née Mason], Anne [other married name Anne Gerard, countess of Macclesfield] (1667/8–1753), courtier | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/70843 . Retrieved 3 March 2019.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)


Parliament of England
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Wigan
With: The Earl of Ancram
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Liverpool
With: Thomas Norris
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by Colonel of Viscount Colchester's Regiment of Horse
Succeeded by
Preceded by Captain and Colonel of the
3rd Troop of Horse Guards

Succeeded by
Preceded by Master-General of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Preceded by Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-Admiral of Cheshire
Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire
Succeeded by
Vice-Admiral of Lancashire
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Essex
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-Admiral of Essex
Succeeded by
Preceded by Constable of the Tower
Lord Lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets

Succeeded by
Peerage of England
Preceded by Earl Rivers
Succeeded by