Richard Savage, an English poet, born in London, Jan. 10, 1698, died in Bristol, July 31, 1743. According to his own story, he was the illegitimate offspring of Anne, countess of Macclesfield, and Richard Savage, Earl Rivers, and at the age of 14 months was consigned by his mother to the care of a poor woman. The countess early disowned him, but her mother, Lady Mason, caused him to be placed in a school at St. Albans, after leaving which he was apprenticed to a shoemaker. Hearing by accident the secret of his birth, he assumed his father's name. Steele, Wilks the actor, and Mrs. Old-field befriended him, and in 1723 he produced a successful tragedy, "Sir Thomas Oyerbury," in which he played the principal character. The publication of a volume of miscellanies soon after increased his reputation. In 1727, having killed a man in a drunken brawl, he was tried and condemned to death. The countess of Hertford interceded with Queen Caroline in his behalf, and, despite the exertions of his mother to have the sentence carried into effect, on the ground that he had once attempted her own life, he received the royal pardon.
On leaving prison he published his poem, "The Bastard." With a view of putting an end to scandal, Lord Tyrconnel, a relative of his mother, took him into his own house, where he was allowed an annual income of £200. For several years he led a life of excitement; but having quarrelled with his protector, he was again cast adrift. By the death of Queen Caroline soon after he was deprived of a pension of £50, and left to the charity of his friends, whom he gradually alienated. He was finally induced to retire to Swansea in Wales, and an annual stipend was contributed to his support by Pope and others. After the lapse of a year he started for London with a tragedy, and while passing through Bristol was arrested for a debt of £8, and died in the debtors' prison of that place. He also wrote "The Wanderer" (1729), a poem esteemed by him as his masterpiece, and a number of minor pieces. His works, with an account of his life and writings by Dr. Samuel Johnson, were published in 1775 (2 vols. 8vo).