Saunders, Henry (DNB00)

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SAUNDERS, HENRY (1728–1785), local historian, the son of Henry Rogers Saunders by his wife Rebecca (Hawkes), was born at Dudley in 1728. His father's mother, Sarah, daughter of Thomas Rogers, a Stourbridge glass dealer, was of Huguenot descent, and this same Thomas Rogers was an ancestor of Samuel Rogers the poet. Henry was educated partly at the expense of his father's elder brother, Thomas, a surgeon who was patronised by ‘the good Lord Lyttelton’ [See Lyttelton, George, first Baron], and much esteemed for ‘his success in inoculation.’ On leaving Dudley grammar school, he matriculated from Oriel College, Oxford, on 19 June 1746, being entered on the college books as a servitor on 18 July 1746, and graduating B.A. 31 May 1750. In 1754, having been ordained, he was appointed curate of Wednesbury at a stipend of 36l., upon which he married. After two years of semi-starvation he was transferred to Shenstone in Staffordshire, where he served as curate for fourteen years. His amiable qualities enabled him to make influential friends there, and he always expressed the liveliest gratitude towards the place and its people. His last entry in the Shenstone register is dated 22 Jan. 1770. Shortly afterwards he accepted a fairly lucrative ushership at King Edward's School, Birmingham. By the favour of his uncle's patron, Lord Lyttelton, Saunders was in 1771 appointed to the mastership of Hales Owen school in Shropshire (now Worcestershire), to which was added, by the good offices of an early preceptor, Dr. Pynson Wilmott, the perpetual curacy of Oldbury. He died at Hales Owen in January 1785, and was buried by his special request in the churchyard of Shenstone on 4 Feb. 1785. By his wife Elizabeth (Butler), who died at Shenstone in 1759, he left an only son, John Butler Saunders (1750–1830), curate of St. Augustine and St. Faith, and of St. Martin's, Ironmonger Lane, London, and an untiring supporter of the Royal Humane Society. At Birmingham Saunders devoted his spare time to the composition of ‘The History and Antiquities of Shenstone’ (published with a short account of the author by his son, John Butler Saunders, London, 1794, 4to, and also printed in Nichols's ‘Topographica Britannica,’ ix. ‘Antiquities,’ vol. i.). It is a model parish history, containing elaborate accounts of the local manors, hamlets, farms, genealogies, and assessments. The work is extensively used by Stebbing Shaw in his ‘History of Staffordshire’ (vol. ii. pt. i., 1801, folio).

[Gent. Mag. 1830 i. 473; Introduction to the History of Shenstone; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1881; Chambers's Worcestershire Worthies, p. 452; notes kindly supplied by C. L. Shadwell, Esq. B.C.L. of Oriel College, Oxford, and the Rev. A. F. Powley, vicar of Shenstone.]

T. S.