John Ashton Savage was born on 21 June 1818 in Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire, Wales, the first child of John and Elizabeth, née Ashton.
When The Mico University College in Kingston, Jamaica, was established in 1836 as a non-denominational Christian institution, J. A. Savage was among the first batch of students to be enrolled and he went on to be appointed the first Superintendent of Schools in Jamaica in 1869 (see https://themico.edu.jm/about/our-history).
About 1845 he married Jane Henderson (1827-74) originally from Ireland and their first son John Henderson was born in St Johns, Antigua, in 1846, followed by George Samuel (c.1847) and William (1849) both born in Kingston, Jamaica. In the 1850 US Census the family was recorded as living (probably temporarily) in Baltimore, Maryland, with Jane’s widowed mother and some of her siblings. John’s profession was recorded as a Teacher.
In the years 1850 to 1860 another five children, three sons and two daughters, were born in Kingston, Jamaica: Edward Ashton (c.1850), Ellen Hannah (1853), Richard Whitehorne (c.1854), Arthur William* (1857), and Alice Maud (c.1860). During this time it seems that John was still connected with Mico College and involved in promoting the education system in Jamaica.
By 1861 the family was back in England, recorded in that year's Census as living at 2 Duke Street, Bedford, Bedfordshire, where John is described as “an artist”. Indeed, there is a watercolour of a sailing ship attributed to him. In “Melville’s Directory of Bedfordshire” (1867) John was listed as a “Photographer”.
In 1869 John was appointed as the first Superintendent of Schools in Jamaica.
His wife Jane died on 11 July 1874 (aged 47) and is buried at South Bersted, West Sussex, England. Two years later, John married Catherine Black (1840-1914) in London. She was a Governess originally from Edinburgh, Scotland. By 1880 the couple were in Jamaica. In the 1881 Census both are recorded as residing at Toronto, Canada.
It appears that it was in Jamaica in the 1880s that J. A. Savage worked on his well-known book The scroll of Time first published by A. S. Rouse in 1893—William Kelly reviewed it sympathetically in The Bible Treasury. In Noel’s The History of the Brethren, vol. 1, p. 139, Captain Hatton Turner recalled in 1889 that “John Ashton Savage designed and wrote some of his charts there, high up in the mountains, at the health resort of Mandeville.” also that, “The visits of our brethren, G. V. W., J. N. D., and Dr. McKern, and instructions seem fruitful still, and many enquired after Childs, Tydeman, Savage, Dr. Maynard, Burton, and Terry.”
In the late 1880s (?) his book One Body, The Church was published by W. H. Broom and Rouse.
By the time of the 1891 Census, John and his second wife were living at ‘Moreton Lodge’, 37 Queen’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK. John was described as a ‘Retired Inspector of Schools’.
In 1896 his book The One Great Voyage of Life was published by S.W. Partridge & Co., Illustrated by Lancelot Speed (1860-1931). It was followed by The Kingdom of God and of Heaven (A. S. Rouse, 1899) and The Voice of the Watchman (S.W. Partridge, London, 1899).
J. A. Savage went to be with the Lord at his home on 2 Jan 1900 (aged 81) and was buried on 6 Jan at Tunbridge Wells Cemetery, Benhall Mill Road. His wife, also known as ‘Kate’, lived at Moreton Lodge for another 14 years until she, too, went to be with the Lord and is buried in the same grave.
*Arthur would go on to become the inventor of, among other things, rifles, a torpedo, and the radial tyre (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_William_Savage).