Temple. He was successively member of parliament for Coventry (1541), Lostwithiel (1547), and Saltash (1553). He was Lent reader of his inn 1524–5, double Lent reader 1532–3, and autumn reader 1539. He was called to the degree of serjeant-at-law in Trinity term 1540, and became one of the king's serjeants on 11 Feb. 1546–7, and was in the commission for the sale of church lands in the town of Northampton. As recorder of Coventry Saunders instigated the mayor's refusal to obey the orders of the Duke of Northumberland to proclaim Lady Jane Grey, and advised him to proclaim Mary instead. He was made justice of the common pleas on 4 Oct. 1553, and appears in several special commissions issued in 1553 and 1554 for the trial of Cranmer, Lady Jane Grey, Lords Guilford and Ambrose Dudley, Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, Sir Peter Carew, and others. On 13 Feb. 1553–4 he was granted the office of one of the justices of common pleas in the county palatine of Lancaster. He was knighted by Philip on 27 Jan. 1554–5, two days before his brother Laurence was arraigned for heresy. On 8 May 1555 he was made chief justice of the queen's bench. In the same month he was appointed head of the special commission for the trial of Thomas Stafford (d. 1557) [q. v.] and others on the charge of seizing Scarborough Castle. In 1557 the manors of Weston-under-Weatherley (Warwickshire) and Newbold (Northamptonshire) were granted to him and Francis Morgan, serjeant-at-law. Queen Elizabeth, on her accession, renewed Saunders's patent for the chief-justiceship (18 Nov. 1558); but on 22 Jan. following he was removed to the lower position of chief baron of the exchequer, possibly on account of a quarrel with Dr. Lewis, the judge of the admiralty court, on a question of jurisdiction (Acts of the Privy Council, 1558, vii. 12). Saunders subsequently acted as a commissioner at the trial of Arthur Pole [q. v.] and Edmund Pole and others (February 1562–3), and of John Hall and Francis Rolston (May 1572) for treason. He died on 12 Nov. 1576 (Esc. 20 Eliz. p. 2, m. 32), and was buried in the church at Weston-under-Weatherley, where there is a monument in the east end of the north aisle. Saunders's house in Whitefriars, London, abutting on the garden of Serjeants' Inn, was in 1611 sold by his representatives to that society. He married, first, Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Englefield, judge of the court of common pleas, and widow of George Carew; she died on 11 Oct. 1563. Secondly, Agnes Hussey, who survived him. His only daughter (by his first wife) married Thomas, son of Francis Morgan, the co-grantee of the manors of Weston and Newbold.
[Colvile's Warwickshire Worthies, p. 631; Baker's Northamptonshire, i. 293; Official Return of Members of Parl.; Willis's Not. Parl. iii. (2), 7, 10, 19; Dugdale's Orig. Jurid. App. pp. 85–90; Foss's Judges of England; Strype's Memorials, ii. 299, and Annals, i. 33; Wotton's Baronetage, i. 88, 168, 258; Dugdale's Warwickshire, p. 200; Cal. Chancery Proceedings, temp. Eliz. i. 101; Dep.-Keeper, 7th Rep. ii. 312; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr.; Foxe's Actes and Monuments, vi. 636; Acts of the Privy Council, vols. ii. and vii. passim; State Papers, Dom., Mary, ii. 56, Eliz. iii. 36, xi. 22.]
SAUNDERS, ERASMUS (1670–1724), divine, born in 1670 in the parish of Clydey, North Pembrokeshire, matriculated at Jesus College, Oxford, 20 March 1689–90, being described as ‘pauper puer,’ though he belonged to the ancient family of Saunders (now Saunders-Davies) of Pentre, near Clydey (Rees, Beauties of South Wales, pp. 515, 871; cf. Clark, Genealogies of Glamorgan, p. 502); he graduated B.A. in 1693, M.A. in 1696, B.D. in 1705, and D.D. in 1712. He was probably for several years curate to William Lloyd (afterwards bishop of Worcester), then vicar of Blockley. He was soon appointed rector of Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Gloucestershire (Rees), and became vicar of Blockley on 13 Aug. 1705, in succession to Lloyd. He also held the rectory of Helmdon, north Hampshire, 1706–18, and was prebendary of Brecknock in the diocese of St. David's from 1709 till his death, from apoplexy, on 1 June 1724. He was survived by his wife Dorothy, daughter of Humphrey Lloyd of Aberbechan, near Newtown, Montgomeryshire. Saunders died at Aberbechan, and was buried at St. Mary's, Shrewsbury, an inscription being placed to his memory in the chancel. Another memorial was erected at Blockley in 1771 by his son Erasmus, who matriculated in 1734 and graduated D.D. from Merton College, Oxford, in 1753, was canon of Windsor (1751), vicar of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields and prebendary of Rochester (1756), and died at Bristol in 1775.
Saunders, who was a man of distinguished piety and an active church reformer, is best known as the author of a work, written at the suggestion of Bishop Bull, entitled ‘A View of the State of Religion in the Diocese of St. David's about the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, with some Account of the Causes of its Decay’ (London, 1721, 8vo). This work throws light on the origin of nonconformity in Wales, and is the basis of much that has since been written on the