This page is dedicated to the history of the branch of the Saunders family from Keynsham, Somerset.

A branch of the Saunders family flourished in Keynsham, Somerset from at least the early 16th century down into the 19th century. A Thomas Saunders of Chewton Keynsham died leaving a will in 1528, so far the earliest reference to the family found in the parish. Richard Saunders (probably born around 1560) was taxed there in 1609, bought a 99 year lease on three mills in 1616, and died in 1618. Among his descendants, the name Nathaniel is particularly prominent, and this may well prove to be indicative of links with some of the other Saunders families described below. A discussion of the distribution of the name Nathaniel Saunders is attached. The family were primarily affluent yeoman farmers and butchers, but appear to have pursued a range of other business interests and also included a lawyer.

The Patent Rolls of 1400 reflect 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 in the Port, and his confirmation in the office of King's serjeant appears in the Patent Rolls of 1423. Other researchers have tentatively linked this Thomas to a contemporary of the same name in the Surrey branch of the family, but it may be that he represents an independent Saunders line, established in the Bristol area and possibly antecedent to the Keynsham one. Wills related to the Saunders family in Bristol survive from the 1480's onwards, with the name Richard (see above) featuring in the 1550's and 1560's.


Other branches

Numerous Saunders family members appear in Bristol, and the picture of the family structure there remains unclear. A William Saunders, merchant of Bristol, married Catherine the daughter of George Eveleigh (a wealthy merchant of Charleston SC and Bristol, d.1792) in the late 1700's, and this line is being researched by Samuel Rabon.

A relatively local branch of the Saunders family (also including the name Nathaniel) flourished in Tetbury, Gloucestershire and in nearby Avening from the 1640's, and Elizabeth Janson's web page provides a useful summary of references related to this line. Another fairly local branch flourished in the area around Bridgewater, Somerset from the early 1500's, and a third line appears to have been centred in Chew Stoke, Somerset (not far from Bristol) from the 1540's onwards.

A notable and armigerous branch of the Saunders family flourished in Charlwood in Surrey from the early 1400's, with a subsidiary branch in West Wales.

Thomas Homer Saunders of Sussex, wrote an extensive treatise on the family, The Saunders, Sanders, Sandars Family and Its Blood Connections (1925, 2nd Ed 1939), an electronic copy of which is available for perusal on Ivan Sanders' website. This reviews the notable holders of the name and presents a (partial) lineage of the Sussex, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and Irish lines from Count Alexander, son of Eudo, Lord of Montagu and Chagny. It also summarises many of the representatives of these branches from about 1380 to 1680 (interestingly, including no Nathaniels). 

The history of the Irish line is discussed in Records of Tobias Saunders and his descendants (1880) by N.B.Vars, extracts from which also appear on Ivan Saunders' site, as do related extracts from Burke's General Armory.

The name Nathaniel Saunders also occurs in Essex, England.

A number of Sa(u)nders families emigrated to North America, and an overview of some of these is attached.

Other sources

Ivan Sanders, a probable descendant of the Surrey line, has pulled together a comprehensive Sanders resource page including substantial material on the early history of the name and an extensive (mostly US based) 'Sanders most wanted' page.

A Saunders Pedigree (1883, 2nd Ed 1905) was published by H.C.Saunders, while another Saunders Family History (1928) was published by R.T.Saunders and J.A.Macklin. The family also appear in a range of visitations, local pedigree collections and local record society publications in Kent, Buckinghamshire, Staffordshire, Devon, East Anglia, Berkshire, Warwickshire, Yorkshire, Monmouthshire, Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire and Kildare.


Anyone interested in further details of this branch of the Saunders family, or who is able to provide additional details relevant to this branch, is invited to contact the coordinator for this page Ian Hall.

This page was last updated 16 May 2007 About this website ...