Sanderson, Thomas (DNB00)

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SANDERSON, THOMAS (1759–1829), poet, born in 1759 at Currigg in the chapelry of Raughtonhead, Cumberland was the fourth son of John Sanderson (1723–1776), by his wife Sarah Scott of Caldbeck. The poet's father did much to improve the well-being of the locality by promoting the enclosure of waste lands and the making of turnpike-roads, but died in poor circumstances. A mural tablet to his memory and that of his wife and deceased children was placed in Sebergham church in 1795 by his sixth son, with an inscription by the poet. Two of the sons, who took orders, died of apoplexy while officiating in church.

Thomas, the poet, was educated first by his father, and afterwards at Sebergham school. He was a good classical scholar, and in 1778 he became master at a school at Greystoke, near Penrith. Afterwards he was a private tutor in the neighbourhood of Morpeth. This was the only period in his life when he crossed the borders of his native county. He soon returned to his mother's house at Sebergham, and lived in complete seclusion, but occasionally met, at a spot overlooking the river Caldew or Caudu, Josiah Relph [q. v.], the Cumbrian poet. On his mother's death he resumed work as a schoolmaster, first at Blackhall grammar school, near Carlisle, and afterwards at Beaumont, where, in 1791, he became acquainted with Jonathan Boucher [q. v.] Boucher thought well of some verses which Sanderson had contributed under the signature ‘Crito’ to the ‘Cumberland Packet,’ and induced him to contribute an ‘Ode to the Genius of Cumberland’ to ‘Hutchinson's History of Cumberland’ (1794).

In 1799 Sanderson wrote a memoir of Josiah Relph, with a pastoral elegy, for an edition of the Cumbrian poet's works. In 1800 he published a volume of ‘Original Poems.’ Owing partly to their success, but principally to legacies from some relatives, he gave up teaching and retired to Kirklinton, nine miles north-east of Carlisle, where he boarded with a farmer, and spent the remainder of his life in literary work. He published only two poems after 1800, although he contemplated a long one on ‘Benevolence.’

In 1807 Sanderson issued a ‘Companion to the Lakes,’ a compilation from Pennant, Gilpin, and Young, supplemented by his own knowledge. Specimens of Cumbrian ballads are given in the appendix. He defended the literary style of David Hume against the strictures of Gilbert Wakefield, in two essays in the ‘Monthly Magazine,’ and contributed a memoir of Boucher to the ‘Carlisle Patriot’ for July 1824. Other friends were Robert Anderson (1770–1833) [q. v.], the Cumbrian ballad-writer, to whose ‘Works’ (ed. 1820) he contributed an essay on the character of the peasantry of Cumberland, and John Howard [q. v.], the mathematician. Sanderson died on 16 Jan. 1829, from the effects of a fire which broke out in his room while he was asleep. Some of his manuscripts perished in the flames. Unlike his friends, Sanderson never wrote in dialect, but his rhymes occasionally showed the influence of local pronunciation. In 1829 appeared ‘Life and Literary Remains of Thomas Sanderson,’ by the Rev. J. Lowthian (rector of Sebergham, 1816–18). Prefixed is a portrait, engraved by A. M. Huffam from a painting by G. Sheffield.

[Lowthian's Life; Biogr. Dict. Living Authors, 1816; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. Le G. N.