Select Sanders/Saunders Surname Genealogy

Sanders and Saunders are patronymic surnames that are for the most derived from Sander, a medieval and possibly Saxon form of Alexander.  Saunders is the English spelling for the most part, Sanders the American spelling.   Some Sanders in America are of German origin, Sander being a topographical name for someone who lived on sandy soil.

Select Sanders/Saunders Resources on The Internet

EnglandThe Saunders name was mainly to be found in SE England.  Some of the early Saunders showed a direct Alexander-to-Saunders link.  John Alisaundre, who was the MP for Arundel in Sussex in 1296, was the forebear of many of the Sussex and Surrey Saunders.  From his younger brother Robert may have come the Saunders in Wiltshire.

An alternative derivation of the name was the Sanderstead place-name in Surrey.  The Sanders of Sander Place in Surrey claimed descent from a Watkin de Sanderstead of pre-Norman times; as did the Saunders in Charlwood which date from the 14th century.  Nicholas Saunders of this family was a Catholic priest and exile at the time of Queen Elizabeth.

There were early Saunders in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire.  Those of Harrington were said to have originally spelt their name Saundhurst.  A related line produced Sir Edward Saunders, Chief Baron of the Exchequer to Queen Elizabeth, and his brother Laurence who was martyred for his Protestant faith in 1555. 
Laurence’s descendant George Sanders emigrated to Virginia in 1632.

John Sanders was born in Worcester in 1576 and became a wool clothier there.  He was said to have left home to seek his fortune in London, and thereby became acquainted with William Shakespeare.  His descendants believe that the Sanders portrait of Shakespeare that has been handed down in their family for four hundred years is a genuine one.

There were also early Saunders in the west country, in Bristol and Somerset.  The Sanders name cropped up also in Devon.  One Devon family history began with a Sanders family at Ottery St. Mary in the early 1700's that later migrated in south Wales. 
Thomas Saunders, born in Tiverton in 1793, worked in the lace industry there for a while before moving to London.

Ireland.  The Saunders name in Ireland was generally an English implant that came at or after the time of Cromwell.  Robert Saunders, the Governor of Kinsale at that time, was granted lands in Wexford (Saunders Court) and Wicklow (Saunders Grove).

  Saunders and some Sanders came to America during the colonial era.   By the 19th century, most Saunders had changed their spelling to Sanders.

Some early Saunders/Sanders were:
  • into New England.  John Sanders from Wiltshire came to Massachusetts in 1628 and settled in Salem.  Tobias Saunders arrived from Amersham in Buckinghamshire in 1643 and was the founder of the town of Westerly, Rhode Island.  From James Sanders of Haverhill came Daniel Saunders who developed the textile industry in Lawrence, Massachusetts in the mid-19th century.
  • into Virginia.  Captain Nathaniel Saunders, a Bristol merchant, appeared in Virginia records in the late 1600’s and his descendants, sometimes as Sanders, spread there in the next century.  Edward Saunders was an early settler in Northumberland county, William and Elizabeth Saunders in New Kent county, Virginia.  The Rev. Jonathan Saunders was a rector at Lynnhaven parish church from 1695.  Grandson Jonathan later built Pembroke manor in Princess Anne county.  But his son John forfeited the property at a Loyalist and departed for New Brunswick in 1788.
  • and into Philadelphia.  Joseph Saunders, a Quaker from Buckinghamshire, came to Philadelphia in 1733 where he was “a reputable merchant and respected member of the Quaker community.”  His grandson David headed west at the time of the Civil War, sailing around Cape Horn to San Francisco with his wife and children.  Other Saunders of the family followed him there.  
Saunders tended to become Sanders, perhaps as it was pronounced, as descendants left their points of entry and moved on, for instance to Kentucky or North Carolina.  This was the case with the four Sanders brothers in North Carolina at the time of the Revolutionary War.

Benjamin Sanders came to Georgia from North Carolina around 1787 to engage in the buying and selling of land there.  He appears to have traveled back and forth between Georgia and North Carolina several times in the succeeding two decades. Many of his descendants remain in Georgia and they hold annual reunions at the small town of Patmos southwest of Albany.

Sanders outnumber Saunders by almost three to one in America today.
  The Sanders include some of German and Jewish origin.  Bernie Sanders the US Senator for Vermont, for instance, comes from Polish Jewish roots in New York.

Argentina.  Two Scottish brothers from Fife – Thomas and William Saunders – were pioneer settlers in Patagonia, arriving there in 1883.  Thomas participated in the great Patagonian trek in 1888 which bought 5,000 sheep from Rio Negro to southern Patagonia.  Although both Thomas and William died back in Scotland, many of their descendants remained in Patagonia.

  Thomas Alfred Saunders, born in Armagh, arrived in South Australia from Tasmania in 1849.  Three years later he was appointed the first harbormaster at Port Elliott, then a busy harbor.  While there he helped survey the treacherous Murray mouth.  He died in 1856.  His son Alfred Thomas (A.T.), born two years earlier, came to be regarded as South Australia’s unofficial historian.

Select Sanders/Saunders Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Sanders/Saunders Names

Sir Edward Saunders was Chief Baron of the Exchequer to Queen Elizabeth.
T.H. Saunders, born in London, was a Victorian paper-maker whose innovative watermarks were first shown in the 1851 Great Exhibition.
Colonel Sanders, the pseudonym of Harland David Sanders, franchised the first Kentucky Fried Chicken under his name in 1952.
Larry Sanders was the fictional character played by Garry Shandling in the American TV series The Larry Sanders Show.

Select Sanders/Saunders Today

  • 78,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 102,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 39,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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