Sunday, 15 February 2015

Thomas Mylius Savage ENGLISH – naturalist

by P. Ann van B. Stafford

IRELAND                    Ulster Province
AUSTRALIA                Tasmania
CAYMAN ISLANDS       Grand Cayman


Thomas Mylius Savage ENGLISH (1868-1946) naturalist, was tutor to Helen, daughter of the Commissioner of the Cayman Islands (1907-1912) George Stephenson Shirt HIRST (1872-1912). Hirst was born in Sindh, India, and died in Grand Cayman at the age of 40. English died in Montserrat in the Eastern Caribbean, where he was a Belonger.

T. M. Savage ENGLISH lived in the Cayman Islands (north-west Caribbean) from late 1910 to 1914, one year in the SW area and the rest in the North Side area. He owned property at Governor's Creek, on the west side of North Sound and in the Rum Point /Cayman Kai area. The latter property was sold to Dr. Overton and Dr. R. E. McTaggart for thirty pieces of silver (£30), in the mid-1920’s.
In North Side, he was fondly known as Old Man English.

IRELAND  Ulster Province

The Savage family of the Ards is an ancient one. Followers of John de Courcy in the Norman conquest of Ulster in 1177, they received lands there. They fortified & held their land through wars, changes of sovereigns, & religions. Their hereditary line did not expire until 1823.
 Savage Coat of Arms
 Ards map, Northern Ireland. 
Ardkeen is on the eastern shore of Strangford Lough, north of Portaferry.
Thomas Mylius Savage ENGLISH Family Tree

was born on March 22, 1868 in Hawley, Dartford, Kent, England. His father was Thomas English
(born 1844) and his mother was  Clara Jane Savage (born ABT 1848). 

The Savage Family in Ulster Chapter X p.330 Clara Jane Savage, daughter of Henry J. Savage and his spouse#2.  
Savage Family of ULSTER
Her father was Henry John Savage and her mother was his second wife.
TMSE has two younger brothers. Henry Boscawen English
was born in 1869 and died in 1883 in Hawley, Kent, when he was 13 years old. Their youngest brother,

Douglas Arthur English was born in 1870.

TMSE was a scholar at Charterhouse School from 1881 to 1883.
Charterhouse School    page 172.
Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey, England, opened its Herbarium in 1874.

1888   He joined the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in 1888 and retired in 1889.

AUSTRALIA - Tasmania (Island State)

1901 T.M. Savage English married Emily Margaret Sale at St. Peter's Anglican Church, St. Leonards, Launceston, Tasmania on April 30.
They had 2 children Patrick (born May 13, 1902) and Sylvia.

CAYMAN ISLANDS - Grand Cayman 

1910  In the Days of Hirst by John Redman, 1995
published in the Weekender section of the Caymanian Compass, June 30, 1995.
George S. S. Hirst, after whom Hirst Road was named, was both Commissioner and Medical Officer from 1907 until 1912, when he died at the age of 40.  He wrote a book, Notes on the History of the Cayman Islands, published in 1910.  His Visitors Book (sheets of paper, folded and hand-ruled in pencil) was handed over to the Cayman Islands National Archive in April, 1995, by Hirst’s grandson, Stephen Gamble, son of Helen, his eldest daughter.

November 1910   Mr. and Mrs. T. M. Savage English, from Dartford in England, called with Patrick English (their 8 year old son), who listed his address as Sussex Cottage. Sussex Cottage was built by Hirst on Elgin Avenue, George Town, next to where the Immigration Department now is. There were two cottages. Hirst and family lived in one and English and family in the other. The name of the property has been retained as Sussex House, where the Passport Office is now located.

In the 1940’s one became the first hospital. Educator Rev. John Gray (1910-1992) and family lived in the other.

Sussex House, Elgin Ave. in 2014,
on the Government-owned property where Commissioner Hirst built Sussex Cottage, 
and where Savage English and family lived before moving to the Rum Point area.
1978 Ordnance Survey map of the Rum Point and Bowse Land area, Grand Cayman
English Sound, a shallow lagoon off North Sound, named after Thomas Mylius Savage ENGLISH, who lived in Grand Cayman from late 1910 to 1914. He lived in this vicinity for 2 years - Rum Point, Water Cay, Bowse Land, Cayman Kai, where he had purchased property from various different owners in 1911.
The location of his dock can still be seen, 100 years later.
The Grand Cayman endemic Pygmy Blue Butterfly - Brephidium exilis thompsoni was discovered at the edge of English Sound by Thompson and Lewis on June 23, 1938, during the Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands.
Aerial photo: Lois Blumenthal, June 2008.
Ref. Cayman Islands National Archive. 
 English Sound, a shallow lagoon off North Sound.
It is the type locality of the tiny Grand Cayman endemic Pygmy Blue butterfly,
found during the 1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands.
Thomas Mylius Savage ENGLISH purchased property in the
Rum Point, Water Cay, Bowse Land, Cayman Kai area in 1911.
The location of his dock can be seen in this photo taken by 
kayakers Tom Watling and James Mafee, June 18, 2008.

 Kayakers Tom Watling and James Mafee found Pygmy Blue butterflies 
in English Sound, a very shallow lagoon.
June 18, 2008.


 Cayman Pygmy Blue butterfly - Brephidium exilis thompsoni
Photo: Alec Vasha, Grand Cayman, March 27, 2014.
Cayman Islands Blue Butterflies, Carpenter & Lewis 1943.
Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands, 1938.
  Annals of the Carnegie Museum p. 392-394
(Publication was delayed because of World War II 1939-1945)

CaymANNature Butterflies, Moths and their Plants
by R.R. Askew & P.A. van B. Stafford, 2008
 Map of Grand Cayman, 
showing George Town in the south-west where TMSE lived for a year,
and Governor's Creek on the western edge of North Sound, where he purchased property in 1911, and the property he bought in the Rum Point / Bowse Land area on the opposite side of North Sound, which he called "Ardkeen", after the place in County Down, Ulster, where the Savage family were from.  

One parcel of land was sold to TMSE  on Sept.6, 1911 known as Old Ford Creek, (or Old Fort's Creek or Old Post Creek). This area later became known as English Sound.

Tideman McKattrick EBANKS 1884 - 1971 (d.87yrs. old)
Uncle Tidy was one of the first people in North Side to own a catboat built by Dan Jervis of Cayman Brac. He was the District Constable and he also carried the mail. He worked for T. M. Savage-English (1912-1914). 
Many years after he left Cayman, Savage-English wrote to him, from Montserrat, and instructed him to sell the property that he owned from Bowse Rd to Water Cay. He sold it to Dr. George Overton, the doctor, and Dr. Roy McTaggart, the dentist.
 Cayman Islands Catboats stamps: First Day Cover
Catboats: unloading cargo. $1.60 stamp.
With few roads - and none of them traversing Cayman in the old days -
the catboat provided a reliable local means of transporting people and goods.
It was also used to carry mail.

TMSE had a big log house with a zinc roof. He had two cisterns, a round one and a square one.

 Tideman McKattrick Ebanks 1884-1971  North Side
Wall of Honour: George Town, and book p.37.
Cayman Treasure


Handbook of Jamaica 1912, editors J.C. Ford and Frank Cundall, Kingston, Jamaica
Some Notes on the Natural History of Grand Cayman by T.M. Savage English pp.598 – 600.

Frank Cundall 1858-1937, Secretary and Librarian of the Institute of Jamaica. 1891 – 1937
Co-editor of the Handbook of Jamaica with J.C. Ford from 1907 until his death in 1937.

Kew Bulletin No.10, 1913, Some Notes on a West Indian Coral Island

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew publication

LVIII Some Notes from a West Indian Coral Island by T. M. Savage English pp.367-372


Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir David Prain, Kew; from Georgetown, Grand Cayman, B.W.I.[British West Indies]; 26 Apr 1911; three page letter comprising two images; folio 301
Letter to Sir David Prain, Kew, April 26, 1911 

Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir Arthur William Hill; from Georgetown, Grand Cayman, B.W.I.[British West Indies]; 21 July 1911; two page letter comprising two images; folio 302
Letter to Sir Arthur William Hill, Kew, July 21, 1911 
Banana Orchid - Cayman Islands National Flower
Myrmecophila thomsoniana syn. Schomburgkia thomsoniana
In 1911 Savage English sent a Banana Orchid plant to Royal Botanic Gardens, KEW

Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir Arthur William Hill; from Ardkeen, Grand Cayman, B.W.I.[British West Indies]; 26 Dec 1911; three page letter comprising two images; folio 303

Letter to Sir Arthur William Hill, Kew, Dec. 26, 1911 

Savage English has obtained satisfactory evidence of the arrival and establishment of a plant in Grand Cayman without human assistance. He encloses a specimen of the Cassia. There are no seeds this year on the wild plants but he is growing it and hopes for some sooner or later. It first appeared after the 1903 hurricane and was at once noticed as a good garden flower. The people of Grand Cayman, who are described as great gardeners, call it storm weed.

Storm Weed - Chamaecrista lineata, syn. Cassia lineata, Cassia clarensis, Family: FABACEAE.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, Greater Antilles, Bahamas,

in sand or pockets of exposed limestone, usually near the sea.
Photo: Ann Stafford, South Sound, Grand Cayman, May 28, 2002.
All the plants disappeared as a result of Hurricane Ivan in Sept. 2004.
Flora of the Cayman Islands by George R. Proctor, 2012, p.389, Pl. 30.

Ghost Orchid (showing spur and ghostly face) Dendrophylax fawcettii ORCHIDACEAE,
Grand Cayman endemic, Critically Endangered, Cayman Islands. 
Photo: P. Ann van B. Stafford, April 3, 2008.
Flora of the Cayman Islands by George R. Proctor, 2012, p.208.

Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir David Prain, Kew; from Ardkeen, Grand Cayman, B.W.I.[British West Indies]; 11 May 1912; two page letter comprising two images; folio 304

Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir Arthur William Hill; from Ardkeen, Grand Cayman, B.W.I.[British West Indies]; 12 Jan 1914.  three page letter comprising two images; folio 312. 
He intends to leave the island, and says their doctor has already left.

Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir Arthur William Hill, Kew; from Hill Farm Bungalow, Botley, Hants [Hampshire]; 26 Oct 1914; two page letter comprising two images; folio 318. 
Letter to Sir Arthur William Hill, Kew, Oct.26, 1914 
by George R. Proctor, published by KEW, 2012


1916 The IBIS A Quarterly Journal of Ornithology, Vol. IV, Tenth Series, published by the British Ornithologists' Union. Notes on some of the Birds of Grand Cayman, West Indies by T. M. Savage English, page 17, Plate I.
The IBIS, Vol.IV, 1916
He added 12 species of birds to P.R. Lowe's list comprising 75 species The IBIS 1911 pp.137-161.

West Indian Whistling Duck   Dendrocygna arborea 
Cayman name - Whistler

Masked Duck   Nomonyx dominicus

Brown Pelican  Pelicanus occidentalis

Osprey  Pandion haliaetus
Cayman name: Fish Hawk 

American Coot  Fulica americana 

Black-necked Stilt  Himantopus mexicanus
Cayman name: Tell-tale, Soldier

Willet  Tringa semipalmata 
Cayman name: Laughing Jackass

Least Tern   Sternula antillarum
Cayman name: Egg Bird
 The Least Tern/Egg Bird nest is a scrape (shallow depression) 
on dredge spoil, lagoon edge, ironshore outcrop or sandy beach.
These Least Terns laid their eggs on this marl dredge spoil, Grand Harbour dykes, June 2, 2013.

Barn Owl  Tyto alba  (Strix falmmea)
Cayman name: Screech Owl, White Owl

Common Nighthawk   Chordeiles minor

Antillean Nighthawk   Chordeiles gundlachii
Cayman name: Rickery-dick

 Antillean Nighthawk (Chordeiles gundlachii), local name Rickery-Dick, 
because of the sound of their call. 
A nest is not made, an egg is laid on open ground between June and August.
A baby Antillean Nighthawk on stony ground, Lakes at South Sound.
Photo: Gaby Tyson, July 9, 2012

Bank Swallow Sand Martin Riparia riparia

A Photographic Guide to the BIRDS of the CAYMAN ISLANDS
Patricia E. Bradley & Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet, 2013


Fig Sphinx moth - Pachylia ficus

 Red Wasp moth - Empyreuma affinis (= E. pugione)

Eunomia caymanensis  Hampson 1911 
George Town, Grand Cayman.
The Annals and Magazine of Natural History, No.43, July 1911 
Sir George F. Hampson (1860-1936)  -   Eunomia caymanensis new species, No.417 a, page 395.
He also went to  Charterhouse School (1871-1875).

E. caymanensis has been recorded in the Cayman Islands and Cuba only
Moth Photographers Group - Lepidoptera of Cuba
1076.00 Eunomia cayamensis    Hampson 1911

All the above three moths (at the British Museum) were collected by T. M. Savage English in Grand Cayman.

 Cayman Clearwing Wasp moth - Eunomia caymanensis
 Photo: Lyndhurst Bodden, George Town, Grand Cayman, Jan. 1, 2015.

Moths stamps First Day Cover Cayman Islands Oct. 12, 2017.  Faithful Beauty Moth - Composia fidelissima, day-flying, and Cayman Clearwing Moth - Eunomia caymanensis, White-lined Sphinx Moth - Hyles lineata and Gaudy Sphinx Moth - Eumorpha labruscae,
 Images hand-drawn and painted by Mrs. Letitia Askew, information by Dr. R.R. Askew.

Savage English had a square cistern and a circular cistern, referred to in the Oxford University Expedition Report on the Botanical Collections from the Cayman Islands by Wilfred Kings, 1938. Under the heading FRESH WATER SPONGES, Kings refers to ‘Savage English’s Cistern (the circular one) North Side. This cistern has not been used since about 1917 when the house was destroyed’.

1917 September - there was a Category 4 hurricane. Savage English house was destroyed.
1917 Hurricane passed to the north of Grand Cayman
Sept. 21- 29, 1917.


T. M. Savage English went to Montserrat, in the Leeward Islands in  the Eastern Caribbean, in 1919. He died there in1946. His house was about a mile north of the capital, Plymouth, near the Botanic Gardens.

Journal of Richard E. Blackwelder, West Indies, Vol.5
Journal and Field Notes  July to October 1936   
Montserrat, Antigua (Redonda) St. Kitts

Extract: Page 11

Date: VII-18-36  (July 18, 1936)

After lunch I rode over to see Mr. T. Savage English, – a naturalist recommended by Danforth. He lives in a little wooden house with burlap walls, dirt floors, etc just opposite the Botanic Gardens. He is rather elderly, with bushy white beard and hair, but very friendly. He has lived in British Columbia, Ceylon, England, etc and has evidently been here for some years. He is interested in birds but not particularly in water-beetles, as Danforth thought. He gave me two nests – for the U.S.N.M.  One has two eggs and was made by an unidentified warbler. He made a good sketch of both the male and female bird with color notes, and believes it can be easily identified. The other is a common bird, but the nest is unusual in being built partly of cotton. He was able to tell me of a few places to try collecting and invited me to come back again.

In 1936 TMSE would have been age 68 (b.1868)

Botanic Gardens were about 1 mile north of Plymouth, Montserrat.

Journal of Richard E. Blackwelder, West Indies Vol.5

Ireland's only colony: records of Montserrat.
T. Savage English. Typescript. 1930.

Montserrat's historical documents have not survived well in their storage place in the Montserrat Courthouse, and since the nearly total destruction of the island by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 are in all likelihood gone. Many are duplicated in the Public Record Office, London.

English was a British colonial administrator who used the extant manuscripts in Montserrat to compile a brief history of the island that includes material on seventeenth-century settlement, slavery and sugar plantations, emancipation, and recent Montserrat. Unfortunately he did not list the documents he used or cite his sources.

One copy was on file in the Montserrat Public Library; a second copy is available at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies of the University of London. 

Montserrat - a Critical Bibliography by Riva Berleant-Schiller   No. 134

Geological History of the Cayman Islands by Horace G. Richards 1955

Geological History of the Cayman Islands by Horace G. Richards, published in Notulae Naturae (Nature Notes) of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. No.284, Dec.14, 1955.
ENGLISH, T.M. Savage is mentioned in the References on p.10:  Some Notes on the Natural History of  Grand Cayman, Handbook of Jamaica 1912.

Cayman Islands Natural History and Biogeography 1994, M.A. Brunt and J.E. Davies


  1. A very informative post and lovely photos. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. A very informative post and lovely photos. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. TMSE is mentioned on pages 5, 11, 15 of this 1936 Journal of Richard E. Blackwelder.

    Also, the Montserrat National Trust has just completed the digitisation of most of the records that TMSE perused in Montserrat - they were rediscovered in a converted shipping container evacuated from Plymouth after the start of the volcanic eruptions in 1996.

    1. Thanks very much for the information, Neil. Do you know when Savage English first went to Montserrat?

    2. According to English himself, he arrived in Montserrat 1919. Source:

  4. Thank you very much for this information on TMSE - my 1st cousin (once removed). He appears to have lived a life that most of us can only dream of. Clive English