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
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
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
brother Laurence who was martyred for his Protestant faith in
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

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
Thomas Saunders, born
in Tiverton in 1793, worked in the lace industry there for a while
moving to London.

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

America.  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

  • 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
    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
    sometimes as Sanders, spread there in the next century.  Edward

    was an early settler in Northumberland county, William and Elizabeth
    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
  • and into PhiladelphiaJoseph Saunders, a Quaker from
    came to Philadelphia in 1733 where he was “a reputable merchant and
    member of the Quaker community.”  His
    grandson David headed west at the time of the Civil War, sailing around
    Horn to San Francisco with his wife and children.  Other Saunders
    of the family followed him there.  

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

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
times in the succeeding two decades. Many of his descendants remain in
and they hold annual reunions at the small town of Patmos southwest of

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
Polish Jewish roots in New York

Two Scottish brothers
from Fife – Thomas and William Saunders – were pioneer settlers in
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
descendants remained in Patagonia.

Australia.  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:

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)


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