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pages 161-188 (929.3429 international classification code)
Saunders of Pentre, Tymawr, and Glanrhydw.
by Francis Green
The Saunders family has been settled in West Wales for so long a period, and has been so connected by marriage with residents of the three counties, that comparatively few recollect that it is just a little over three hundred years ago that the first scion of this ancient and influential sept came to Wales. It has been stated by some genealogists that the ancestor of the Saunders family came over to England in the train of William the Conqueror, and it is quite possible that this may be true, although there is no mention of his name in the Rolls of Battle Abbey. But however this may have been, the Saunders were in Surrey at a very early date, and according to Brayley's Topographical History of Surrey Vol. iv., p. 266, they were settled at Charlwood that county in the reign of Edward II., and before that time held an estate at Sanderstead in the same county.
It is evident that persons of the same name, at all events were in England in 1224, as there is an order in the Close Rolls, dated 20 Nov.,1 in that year, issued to the treasurer, to pay Hugh de Windles, constable of the Tower of London, 28s. for the use of Thomas de Sandres, smith in the same Tower, for 84 day's work, at 4d. a day, while in 1274 there is an order in the Close Rolls to the sheriff of Northampton to allow bail to William Saundre of Thornbawe, who was imprisoned at Northampton for the death of Woolnoth de Pempeston, and had appealed against the judgment. Another early mention of a Saunders occurs in the Patent Rolls for 10 April, 1319, when on the intercession of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex, King Edward II. granted to Elena, wife of John Saundre of Dover, for her life, the house in Dover, which her husband John Saundre had held in chief, and had been escheated for felony, on account of which John de Saundre had abjured the realm.
Again, on 4 Sept., 1346, the Patent Rolls mention that a number of persons, including George de Longevill, knt., and John Saundre of Enebourne, Berks, were, for their services in the war with France, pardoned by the King then at Calais, for previous offenses, on condition that they did not withdraw from the King's service, so long as he should stay in France. In 1348, the same records indicate that some of the Saunders of bygone days followed out the old principle that might was right, as a commission of oyer and terminer was in that year issued to William de Shareshull and others to try a case brought by Edward, Prince of Wales, against John Sandre, Richard Sandre, Walter Sandre, and others who had carried off the Prince's goods at Chalk in Kent, and had assaulted the Prince's servants there, where by the Prince had lost their services for a long time.
Presumably Richard Sandre managed later on to appease any royal resentment occasioned by this little escapade, as in 1377 a Richard Sandre, who may very well have been the same person, is stated in the Patent Rolls to have been appointed a commissioner of walls and dykes in the marsh of Harnhull, between Whitstable and Faversham in Kent.
There are many other references to persons of the name of Saunders, Saundre, or Sandre in the Patent Rolls, at an early date, but it will suffice to quote one more extract from that source which shows that the ancestor of the Saunders in West Wales was not the first of the name to settle in the south of the Principality. The entry in question relates that on 28 Jan., 1343, a commission was issued to Stephen de Buterle, the King's sergeant-at-arms, to arrest two ships belonging to Bernard Saundre of Carmarthen, which, with another ship belonging to Lydney, were alleged to have plundered a vessel called a 'tarite' (probably a corruption of 'tarida,' i.e., a ship of burden, otherwise a cargo vessel) in the port of Falmouth.
But to return to the Saunders of Charlwood. According to the Harleian M.S., No. 1433, the earliest known member of the family was James Saunders, who had a son Mathew Saunders, the latter having issue, Stephen Saunders. This Stephen Saunders had a son, called Thomas Saunders, whose wife's name is said to be Johanna or Joan. It is possible that this is the Thomas Saunders, whom John Payn, the King's chief butler, appointed as his deputy in the port of Bristol, and to whom a writ of aid was issued on 5 Feb., 1400 (Patent Rolls).
The same Thomas Saunders was appointed in 1404 to the office of gauger of wines at the port of Bristol and other places adjacent, and it is evident that he had secured the favour of the King, as it is stated that he was not to be removed from that office without the King's special command. This office was confirmed to him in 1423, and he was then described as Thomas Saunders of Bristol, King's serjeant (Patent Rolls). The fact that he was described as of Bristol suggests that he lived there, and it may be contented that the owner of Charlwood would scarcely have left his considerable estate to reside in Bristol to attend to his office there. It may, however, be that the description in question was intended merely to refer to the locality of the office, and it must be remembered that many offices were in those days often sinecures and were performed by deputies and sub-deputies. The Harleian M.S., No 1397, in the British Museum, states that the following inscription was to be seen on the church porch of Charlewood in 1622:-
Orate pro anima Thos. Sand. et Joha' nxoris ejus et pro animabus omnium fidelium defunctorum.
This inscription, unfortunately, does not seem to have borne any date, but it evidently records the death of Thomas Saunders of Charlwood and his wife Joan.
From the marriage of Thomas Saunders of Charlewood and his wife Joan there was a son William Saunders, who married Joan, the daughter of Thomas Carew of Bedington. This William Saunders died on 10 Aug., 1481, and his wife Joan in 1470, as appears by a brass formerly on a tombstone at Charlwood, bearing this inscription, which has fortunately been copied in the Harleian MS., No. 1397:-
Orate pro animabus Will'i Saunder generos' qui ob' 10 die mensis Augusti A.D. Mill'o CCCCLXXXI et Joha' nx' ejus qu\'e6 ob' ... die mensis .... A`. 1470, quor' a'iabus p'pl'cietur Deus. Amen.
Another inscription preserved in the same MS. records the death of John Saunders, probably a son or brother of William Saunders. It reads:-
Hic jacet magist' Joh'es Saunder qui ob' 3 die Febr. A. D. 1477
William Saunders was possibly the person whom the Patent Rolls mention as having been on 1 July, 1473, appointed one of the deputies at the port of Southhampton, of Anthony. Earl Riveres, chief butler of England. From the marriage of William Saunders with his wife Joan there were the following children:-
1. Richard Saunders, who inherited Charlwood and married Agnes, by whom he had a son Nicholas, whose descendants held the Charlwood estate till the 17th century. Richard Saunders died in 1480, and his wife Agnes on 7 Jan., 1486, as appears by a copy of an inscription at Charlwood Church, preserved in the Harleian MS., No. 1397. In addition to Nicholas, Richard Saunders had two sons, William and James; James, who was the third son, died on 19 Feb., 1511 (Harleian MS., No. 1397); Nicholas, the son of Richard Saunders, died on 29 Aug., 1553; he married Alice, the daughter of John Hungate of York, and their son Thomas Saunders, afterwards Sir Thomas Saunders, knt., was King's Remembrancer of the Exchequer. Nicholas and his wife Alice were buried at Charlwood Church, where there still remains an interesting brass to their memory (see illustration), bearing this inscription:-
Here is buryed Nicholas Saunder Esquyer, and Alys his wife, daughter of John Hungate of the Countey of Yorke Esquyer, ffather and mother to Thomas Saunder Knyght, ye King's Remembrance of thexcheker whiche Nicholas deceased the xxix day of August ye firste yere of ye reigne of quene Mary A'MV'LIII.
In Charlwood Church there is at the present time a fine old oak screen on which are carved in several places the initials 'R.S.' Tradition says that this screen was presented by one of the Saunders, and in all probability the donor was Richard Saunders, who dies in 1480. In the same church hangs an ancient helmet, which is said to have been worn by one of the family at the Crusades.
2. Henry Saunders, the ancestor of the branch in West Wales.
Up to this point the pedigree has been dependent on the Harleian MS.,2 but from this date corroboration is obtainable from documentary evidence. Henry Saunders, the second son of William Saunders and Joan Carew, resided at Ewell, in Surrey. According to the Visitation of Surrey of 1625, he married Joan, the daughter of John Lepton of Kipwich in Yorkshire. In his will3 dated 1 Sept., 1518, which was proved in London 23 Feb., 1519 (Ayloffe, fol. 15), he desired to be buried in the hospice of Henry VII., called the Savoye, near London, and bequeathed all his personalty to his wife Joan, except one gold cross. His realty would appear to have been settled on his wife, as he directed 'my feoffees of the manor of Botalls and tenements in Ewell, Evesham, and Chesenden in Surrey to stand possessed of the same to the use of my wife Joan for her life,' with remainder to Joan Saunder (wife of testator's son, Nicholas Saunder) for her life, with successive remainders in tail male to testator's sons William Saunder and Nicholas Saunder, with similar remainders to Henry Saunder and Thomas Saunder (the sons of Nicholas Saunder of Charlwood, who was the son of testator's brother Richard), with remainder in tail male to William Saunder (son of testator's brother Richard Saunder), and on failure of such issue, the property was to be sold and the proceeds divided between the churches of Ewell and Charlwood. The testator also owned the manor of Pendell and lands in the parishes of Blechynglegh, Nutfield, etc., which he devised to his son William Sander in tail male.
Henry Saunders of Ewell mentions the following children in his will, but does not state the order of their birth:-
1. Nicholas Saunders, who married, according to the Visitation of Surrey, Joan daughter and heiress of John Iwardly of Surrey, and widow of _____ St. John. From this marriage there were three daughters, Jane (wife of Richard Bray of Ewell, Surrey), Ursula (wife of _____, Hungerford), and Joyce (wife of _____ Woodcock), and they were probably all spinsters in 1518, as they were described by their maiden names in the will of Henry Saunders of Ewell.
2. William Saunders (second son).
3. Agnes, who, at the date of her father's will was engaged to be married to Rice Keys (son of Thomas Keys), and was then under age, as her father bequeathed her £60 when she was twenty-one.
William Saunders (son of Henry Saunders by his wife Joan Lepton) also resided at Ewell. He married Joan, the daughter and coheiress of Wm. Marston of Horton, Surrey, and widow of Nicholas Mynde of Norfolk, and beside acquiring property with his wife, seem to have assed to it by purchase. In 1538 he was receiver for the counties of Surrey and Sussex, and on 1 Feb., 1539 he was appointed one of the seventeen Particular Receivers of Augmentations on the next vacancy (Augmentation Book, 233, fol. 327b.). In 1543 Thomas Saunders of Surrey furnished two foot soldiers and
William Saunders of Surrey found three foot soldiers for the army in Flanders (State Papers). In 1544 ' _____ Sanders of Ewelme' (no doubt William Saunders of Ewell) is mentioned in a muster book as being liable, among the gentlemen of Surrey, to supply soldiers for the army against France (State Papers).
William Saunders executed his will on a 2 Oct., 1570, and must have died prior to 10 Nov., 1571, on which date it was proved in London (Holney, fol. 42). He desired to be buried in the 'Chapell nighe my tome [tomb] within the parish church of Ewell.' His will reveals that the testator was in wealthy circumstances. To his wife Joan he bequeathed "my apparell and jewells,' and 'twoe olde angells.' and to his son Erasmus Saunders a 'crosse of golde with a pearle in thende [the end] therof.' To his son Francis, testator bequeathed 'my owche of gold with a murrion's face,' with a cross of mother-of-pearl, etc. Nicholas Saunders, the testator's son and residuary legatee, was directed to keep a house in Ewell for his father's widow, and, if the personalty was insufficient to cover the debts, the deficiency was to be met out of the profits of the manor of Chesmyngton and Proke. In addition to her dower out of the manor of Cardens and its appurtenances in Clif Higham and Frindesburie, the widow was to be given dower out of the lands bought by the testator in the parishes of Clif Colney, Higham, and Frindesbury in Kent. Subject to this, these properties were devised to testator's eldest son, Nicholas, in tail male, with similar remainders in succession to testator's sons Erasmus and Francis. The manors and lands in the parishes of Ewell, Elsham, Chesington, St. Savior's in Southwark, Blechinghigh, Nutfield, Charlwode, Horley, Newdigate, and Ockeley in Surrey, which had descended to testator from his father, Henry Saunders, were to devolve as directed by the will of the said Henry Saunders.
Joan, the widow of William Saunders of Ewell, survived her husband by some nine years. Her will dated 14 April, 1580 and proved in London on 15 July, 1581 (Darcey, fol, 27), raises a curious point. According to the Visitation of Surrey, she was, previous to her marriage with William Saunders, the widow of Nicholas Mynde, but in her will she bequeathed legacies to her sons Oliver Gittons and Albey Gittons. It seems clear therefore, if the Visitation be correct, that she must have been twice married before she became the wife of William Saunders, unless indeed two of her daughters by one of the two marriages married two persons of the name of Gittons. With the exception of Agnes (who was engaged to Rice Keys), and Margaret, all the daughters of William Saunders who are mentioned in his will appear to have been married, and the name Gitton does not occur as one of the husbands. Moreover Joan Saunders in her will refers to Oliver and Albey Gittons as 'my sons,' while in bequests to their spouses, she describes them in each case as 'the wife of my son,' thus leading one to the conclusion that she was previously married to a person named Gittons.
It would seem that Joan, the widow of William Saunders, removed after the death of her husband to Marlborough; at all events, she desired to be buried there. This removal was probably due to the fact that her daughter Frances Saunders had married a person named Spilman, who resided at Marlborough. This change of residence is rather significant, as it marks another step in the direction of West Wales.
The children of William Saunders by his wife Joan were:-
1. Nicholas Saunders (eldest son), who married Isabella, the sister of Sir Hugh Carew of Bedington, Surrey, knt.
2. Erasmus Saunders, the ancestor of the West Wales branch.
3. Francis Saunders.
4. Frances, who married Henry Spilman of Marlborrough, second son of Sir John Spilman.
5. A daughter who married Nicholas Lussher of Surrey.
6. Elizabeth, who married _____ Castell.
7. Urithe, who married John Paygrave of Norfolk.
8. Catherine, who married _____ Carvell.
Erasmus (son of William and Joan Saunders of Ewell) possibly accompanied his mother to the West of England; in any event, he eventually settled in Pembrokeshire. The date of his arrival is not known, but it is certain that he was there on 23 Sept., 1577, as on that date he, described as of Jordanston in St. Florence, was sued by Griffith White, esq., for trespass, at the Great Sessions held at Haverfordwest. As to the inducements that first led him to Wales, there is no record. He is stated to have been a lawyer - the
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