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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 subject. Saunders is also credited (Rees, loc. cit.) with having written ‘Short Illustrations of the Bible;’ but this should probably be identified with another work of his entitled ‘A Domestick Charge, on the Duty of Houshold-Governours’ (Oxford, 1701, 8vo); a translation into Welsh was executed, but it does not appear to have been published (Rowlands, Cambr. Bibliogr. p. 320).

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. early ser.; Nash's Worcestershire, i. 104–5; Owen and Blakeway's History of Shrewsbury, ii. 406; Archæologia Cambrensis, 4th ser. x. 72–3; Gent. Mag. 1776, p. 47; Watt's Bibliotheca Britannica, ii. 833; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

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