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SAUNDERS, LAURENCE (d. 1555), martyr, was son of Thomas Saunders of Harrington, Northamptonshire, by his wife Margaret Cave. Sir Edward Saunders [q. v.] was his elder brother. In 1538 he was elected from Eton scholar of King's College, Cambridge, and graduated B.A. in 1541. He then left the university, and was bound apprentice to Sir William Chester [q. v.] in London, but returned to Cambridge on the voluntary cancelling of his indenture. He proceeded M.A. in 1544, and later, it is said, became B.D. According to Foxe (Actes and Monuments, vi. 613), he remained at the university till the end of Henry VIII's reign. After Edward VI's accession he was appointed to read a divinity lecture in the college at Fotheringay, Northamptonshire, and he married while holding that office. When this college was dissolved he was made reader in Lichfield Cathedral. He subsequently became rector of Church Langton in Leicestershire, and prebendary of Botevant in York Cathedral on 27 Aug. 1552 (Le Neve). On 28 March 1553 he was collated by Cranmer to the rectory of All Hallows, Bread Street (Newcourt, Repert. i. 246). After Mary's accession, he was apprehended by Bonner in October 1554, and lay in prison for fifteen months. In March 1553–4 he was cited to appear before the vicar-general for having married (Strype, Cranmer, p. 468), and in the following May signed the confession of faith made by Hooper, Coverdale, and others in prison (Strype, Eccl. Mem. III. i. 223). On 29 Jan. 1554–5 he was arraigned by Gardiner at St. Mary Overy's, the day after the trial of Hooper and Rogers. He was condemned for heresy, degraded on 4 Feb., and on the 5th sent to Coventry to be burned. The sentence was carried out on 8 Feb. 1554–5.

Saunders's letters were printed in Coverdale's ‘Certain Most Godly Letters,’ 1564, 8vo, and in Foxe's ‘Actes.’ There is also ascribed to him ‘Poemata quædam’ (Tanner, Bibl. Brit.; Foxe, Actes and Monuments) and, more doubtfully, ‘A Trewe Mirrour or Glase, wherin we maye beholde the wofull state of thys our Realme of Englande, set forth in a dialogue or communication betwene Eusebius and Theophilus,’ 1550 or 1551?

[Memoir by Legh Richmond in Fathers of the English Church, vol. vi.; Church of England Tract Society, vol. iv.; Middleton's Biogr. Evan. i. 304; Prebendary Rogers's Hist. Martyrdom and Letters of Laurence Saunders, 1832, 12mo (all based on Foxe's Actes and Monuments, vi. 612–36); Bradford's Works, passim; Zurich Letters, iii. 171, 772; Ridley's, Hooper's, and Sandys's Works (Parker Soc.); Harwood's Alumni Eton.; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr.; Simms's Bibliotheca Stafford. 392.]

W. A. S.