Select Sanders/Saunders Miscellany

Here are some Sanders/Saunders stories and accounts over the years:

Saunders and Sanders

Saunders is the English spelling for the most part, Sanders the American spelling.  The table below shows the approximate breakdown of the numbers today.

Numbers (000's)
Elsewhere (1)
(1)  Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Early Saunders in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire

Name Date
Harrington, Northamptonshire
Agmondesham (Amersham), Buckinghamshire
Rev. William    
Hinton, Northamptonshire
Mayor of Coventry
Sibbertoft, Northamptonshire
Sir William
Welford, Northamptonshire

The various Northamptonshire lines above are probably related.  Lawrence Saunders, the son of Thomas from Sibbertoft, was a Protestant martyr who was burned at the stake in 1555. 

The 1488 will of William Saunders of Amersham in Buckinghamshire has survived. Latter Saunders of this line established themselves in the 17th century at the Beechwood estate in Flamstead in nearby Hertfordshire. There is a monument to these Saunders in the local church.

Early Saunders in the West Country

The Patent Rolls of 1400 showed the existence of a Thomas Saunders as the deputy to John Payn, the King's chief butler, in the port of Bristol.  In 1404 he appears in the office of gauger of wines at the port and there was later mention of him in 1423.  Wills related to the Saunders family in Bristol have survived from the 1480's onwards.

A Saunders branch flourished at Keynsham in Somerset from at least the early 16th century down into the 19th century. A Thomas Saunders recorded his will at Chewton Keynsham in 1528.  Richard Saunders was taxed there in 1609.  He bought a 99 year lease on three mills in 1616 and died in 1618.  The family consisted of well-to-do yeoman farmers and butchers. 

There were other Saunders lines at Chew Stoke near Bristol and Bridgwater in Somerset from the 1540’s

The Sanders Family and the Shakespeare Portrait

It is believed by the Sanders family that either John Sanders or his brother William painted a portrait of Shakespeare in 1603 when the family was said to be living close to Shakespeare's home in London.

An oral tradition holds that for four hundred years the portrait was passed down in the Sanders family while knowledge of its existence remained private.  Its ownership was verified in 1909 when M. H. Spielmann studied the painting.  At this time it was in the hands of T. Hale Sanders who had taken ownership of it from his uncle through his father Thomas Hale.  In 1919 Agnes Hale Sanders traveled from Montreal to London to reclaim the Sanders portrait.  Since then it has been held in Canada.

Is the Sanders portrait real?  Spielmann himself did not believe so.  And its authenticity has not been widely accepted by other scholars.  The main problem is that it does not look much like Shakespeare.  The portrait does not seem to resemble either the Droeshout portrast or the Shakespeare funeral bust, both of which resemble each other and have been accepted by scholars as having been contemporary likenesses of Shakespeare.  Some say outright that this portrait is a fake.

The Saunders of Saunders Grove of Wicklow

These Saunders claimed a suspiciously long and noble lineage, dating back to the Hapsburg lords of Innsbruck in present day Austria.  Sir Harloven Saundres came to England in 1370 and was supposedly the forebear of Robert Saunders, a soldier in Cromwell’s army who stayed in Ireland and became governor of Kinsale.  His family established themselves at Saunders Grove in Wicklow.

The Saunders Family in Virginia

Colonel James Saunders, of Alabama was a descendant of Edward Saunders, an early settler in Virginia. In his book Early Settlers, he wrote as follows of his branch of the family:

"The Saunders family, according to its tradition, is of English descent.  Edward Saunders was its progenitor in America, and its first settlement was in the Northern Neck of Virginia in Northumberland county.  Precisely when Edward came to Virginia, tradition does not say.  He had, however, a son named Ebenezer, born in 1661 in Virginia, who left a son named Edward.  This Edward was listed as a vestryman and captain in the same county in 1720.

William, his eldest son and born in 1718, was the lineal ancestor of our family.  A family memoir described William as being about five feet eight inches in height, well made, of light complexion and blue eyes, from 150 to 160 pounds in weight, very active and fleet, possessed of agreeable manners, and a good education for the times.”

Many Saunders of this family left Virginia after the Revolutionary War.  Some were in Maryland.  The Rev. Turner Saunders departed for Tennessee in 1808.  Colonel James’s line ended up in Alabama.

Joseph Saunders' Bible Entries

Joseph Saunders owned a large family Bible wherein are recorded the events of the family with respect to births and deaths. As head of the household, Joseph diligently scribed in his elegant handwriting the births and deaths in his family during his lifetime. The following is a transcript of his writing:  

“Joseph Saunders was born at Farnham Royal in the county of Buckinghamshire on the eighth day of January 1712 and his wife Hannah Saunders was born at Whitby in the county of York on the 5th of November 1717 and they were married at Philadelphia on the eighth day of January 1740.  

My daughter Mary, wife of Thomas Morris, died on the (blank) day of July 1774.  
My son Peter Saunders left Philadelphia on the 22nd December 1780 in the company of John Benezet in order to embark with him on the ship Shelaley bound for Port Lercon in France with the intention to stay there and in Holland for about a year.  They embarked at Chester and proceeded, but were never heard from after leaving Delaware Bay.  There were about eighty passengers and seamen on board and it is supposed they foundered at sea.
My wife died on the 8th February 1788 and was buried on the 11th in the afternoon.  
My daughter Lydia, wife of Samuel Coates, died on the 24th October 1789 about four o’clock in the morning and was buried on the 26th in the afternoon.  
My daughter Sarah, wife of William Redwood, died on the 29th October 1789 in the morning and was buried on the 31st in the afternoon. 
My son John died in Alexandria on the 18th May 1790 was buried on the 20th.
The affectionate and much loved father of this family deceased on the 26th January 1792 at the home of Samuel Coates in Philadelphia.

The Sanders Brothers from North Carolina

The forebears of these Sanders brothers were originally Saunders in Virginia.  The Saunders must have migrated south into what are now Randolph and Montgomery counties in North Carolina by the 1770’s.  There were to be found four Sanders brothers – William, Isaac, the Rev. Moses, and Francis. 

A descendant T.B. Sanders, recalling those times, wrote from Texas in the 1890’s: 

“My grandfather William married in Virginia and was killed in a fight with the Tories.  Isaac was the first man that ever built a house on Cross Creek below Fayetteville.  Another brother by the name of Moses was a Baptist preacher.  I have seen Isaac and his wife when they were very old.  Two of his sons, Ben and Joe, moved to Alabama and their families are there yet.” 

The Rev. Moses Sanders moved to Georgia in 1798 and founded the Grove Level church in Franklin county in 1802.  He preached there until shortly before his death in 1817.  In 1902 a great grandson, Christopher Columbus Sanders, funded a cemetery marker for the Rev. Sanders on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Grove Level church.

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