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SAINSBURY, WILLIAM NOEL (1825–1895), historical writer, third son of John and Mary Ann Sainsbury, was born at 35 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, on 7 July 1825. On 1 April 1848 he entered the old state paper office as an extra temporary clerk. On 28 Nov. he was confirmed in the appointment, and eventually was transferred to the record office when it absorbed the state paper office in 1854. In August 1862 he became a senior clerk, and in November 1887 an assistant-keeper of the records.

Sainsbury chiefly devoted himself to calendaring the records which bore on the history of America and the West Indies. The first volume of his calendar of the colonial state papers relating to America and the West Indies was published in 1860. That on the papers of East India, China, and Japan followed in 1862. At intervals of three or four years other volumes have appeared, making nine in all. The value of his public work was not greater than that of the aid which he gave unofficially to the historians and historical societies of the United States. In his early days he collected for Bancroft, the American historian, from the papers of the board of trade, all evidence bearing upon the history of the American colonies. In recognition of his services to American historical writers he was made an honorary or corresponding member of the principal historical societies in the States.

Sainsbury retired from the public service in December 1891, but continued, with the help of a daughter, to edit the calendar up to the time of his death, which took place on 9 March 1895. Besides various uncollected papers on colonial history, he published:

  1. ‘Original unpublished Papers illustrative of the Life of Sir P. P. Rubens as an artist and diplomatist,’ London, 1859, 8vo.
  2. ‘Hearts of Oak: stories of early English Adventure,’ London, 1871, 8vo.

He married twice: first, in 1849, Emily Storrs, second daughter of Andrew Moore, by whom he had two sons and eight daughters; secondly, in 1873, Henrietta Victoria, youngest daughter of John Hawkins, and widow of Alfred Crusher Auger, whom he also survived.

[Proceedings of American Antiquarian Society, 1895, vol. x. pt. i. p. 28; Times, 14 March 1895; private information.]

C. A. H.