Sanders Family History by Ralph Sanders by Ralph Sanders - Read Online
Sanders Family History
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This book provides original research on a person called Leonard de Sanderstead, who is recognized as the first person in England to bear the surname Sanders, at least in a variant form. This work amends and extends earlier published research on this subject. An Addendum provides a preliminary review of Sanders family origins based on DNA evidence.
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ISBN: 9781483526195
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Sanders Family History - Ralph Sanders

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In England in the 1540s Sir Thomas Saunders of Charlwood in Surrey was a man on the rise. He served as solicitor for Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of King Henry VIII, representing her interests in Henry’s annulment of the royal marriage. He also received nomination for appointment as the country’s next Remembrancer of the Exchequer, a post of great national significance. So it was in these circumstances that Sir Thomas set out to officially confirm his coat-of-arms. Now, Sir Thomas was not a student of genealogy, nor was he searching for evidence of his roots. Rather, he sought to confirm what he already knew and wanted others to know as well. He wanted to establish that in the aristocratic England of his time, he was a legitimate heir to national authority. And so Sir Thomas strove to demonstrate that he descended well. His earliest-known ancestor, by name, Leonard de Sanderstead, was most certainly of high birth, though of many generations past. It was good to descend from Leonard.

This is the story of Leonard de Sanderstead [1]. Like Sir Thomas, we inquire about Leonard as well, though for an entirely different reason. We care because Leonard is the first person in all of English history - or perhaps any history - to bear the surname Sanders, albeit in precursor form. The bold claim that Leonard among all people was the first of the Sanders rests on the observation that in Leonard’s own time, the widespread use of inherited surnames had not yet come into being. That Leonard was sometimes called Leonard de Sanderstead is purely historical accident; Leonard merely resided in a place of that name. He was of Sanderstead. This Sanderstead label and its evolved abridgements became attached to his descendants as the inherited surnames of Saunders and Sanders came into accepted use. As these particulars are perfectly unlikely to have occurred elsewhere, this claim to Leonard’s special place in Sanders family history seems secure.

In our previous publication, Generations: A Thousand-Year Family History, we tried to illuminate Sanders (and Saunders) history by offering biographies of family members in descending order, from the time of Leonard down to the present. But at the time of writing, we knew very little of Leonard, nor did we imagine that more could be learned of this 12th century figure [2]. We have found otherwise. Though Leonard achieved no lasting fame, he indeed can be found, just beneath important political currents that rippled through England in the 12th century.

Brittany

The story of Leonard de Sanderstead begins in Brittany. Leonard thought himself a Breton and some of his extended family remained there even in his own day. He undoubtedly heard stories of his Breton ancestors and probably learned that his family’s Breton history should not be forgotten. Leonard did not forget.

Brittany is a district in northwestern France, lying on the English Channel at its north and jutting into the Atlantic Ocean on the west. In ancient times, the area was called Armorica, home to a loose assemblage of Celtic tribes dating back to the times of the Roman Empire and before. Armorica later became known by the name Brittany (French, Bretagne) after migration there in the 600s by Britons, another of the Celtic tribes, who departed western England when invading Saxons drove them out. By the 800s, Brittany had been absorbed into Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire, in large part because Brittany’s King Salaman served as one of Charlemagne’s chief allies. As part of the Holy Roman Empire, Brittany adopted Charlemagne’s feudal arrangements, taking on French as a unifying language, and setting out strong centralized hierarchical arrangements for landholding and the administration of law. A key feature of this feudal regime was the development of military art, in which new armaments, rigorous training, and tight organization combined to produce innovative, disciplined, and highly effective military forces.

By the 900s Brittany had evolved into a unified and autonomous state, controlled by a small number of noble families. Among these were the Counts of Dol, whose