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SAUNDERS , ERASMUS ( 1670 - 1724 ), divine ;

b. in the parish of Clydey , north Pembs. , the son of Tobias Saunders of Cilrhedyn , Pembs. , and Lettice Phillips of Penboyr, Carms. He matriculated from Jesus College , Oxford , 20 March 1690 (graduated B.A. 1693 , M.A. 1696 , B.D. 1705 , and D.D. 1712 . As a student he aided Edward Lhuyd (q.v.) in the collection of archaeological information regarding Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire . (Letters in Inv. Pembrokeshire , xxxvi and xxxvii, and Inv. Carmarthenshire , 266.)

He was a protégé of bishop William Lloyd (q.v.) , one of the ‘Seven Bishops,’ who was translated to Worcester in 1700 . From that year the bishop 's son (also named William Lloyd ) held the living of Blockley in the diocese of Worcester , but surrendered it in 1705 , when Saunders , who had been his curate since 1702 , became vicar ( 13 Aug. ). Five months later ( 18 Jan. 1706 ) he was instituted rector of Helmdon , Northamptonshire (not north Hampshire , as in D.N.B. ) by the bishop of Peterborough , and held this living as an absentee pluralist until 1721 . (He was not rector of Moreton-in-the-Marsh , as stated in D.N.B. ). In 1709 he was further preferred by bishop George Bull of S. Davids to a prebendary stall in the collegiate Church of Christ , Brecon .

Saunders was m. at Blockley in 1714 to Dorothy , daughter of Humphrey Lloyd of Aberbechan , near Newtown, Mont. , by whom he had seven children. He d. of apoplexy at Aberbechan , 1 June 1724 , and was buried in S. Mary's , Shrewsbury , on 5 June . There is a lengthy inscription on his tomb in this church, and, in the church at Blockley , there is a mural tablet with his arms (sable, a chevron ermine between three bull's heads, caboshed argent) erected by his eldest son, Dr. Erasmus Saunders ( canon of Windsor , vicar of S. Martin-in-the-Fields , and prebendary of Rochester , d. 1775 ).

Although a pluralist , Saunders was an active parish priest . In 1713 , with the aid of local gentry, he obtained the erection at Blockley of a school on which he placed an inscription in Welsh : ‘ Aros a Llwydda .’ He supported the S.P.C.K. and helped financially (through paying for fifty copies) and in other ways in the publication of its edition of the Welsh Bible . He published several sermons, one of which, on ‘ Household Government ,’ was translated into Welsh by Samuel Williams (q.v.) . His chief importance derives from his book A View of the State of Religion in the Diocese of S. Davids ( London , 1721 ; reprinted by University of Wales Press , 1949 ). In this he dealt faithfully with what he called ‘the melancholy state’ of the diocese, which he attributed mainly to the lay impropriation of the tithes.


  • A Chapter in English Church History; S.P.C.K. Minutes and [Abstracts of] Correspondence, 1698–1704 (1888) ;
  • Alumni Oxonienses ;
  • Archaeologia Cambrensis , 1873 (384), 1879 (72-3);
  • West Wales Historical Records (1910–29) , ii, 161-88.


Emeritus Professor David Williams, D.Litt., (1900-78), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959