The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Saunders, Alfred

Saunders, Alfred, M.H.R., is the son of the late A. E. Saunders, of Market Lavington, Wilts, and Mary his wife, daughter of John Box. He is a brother of William Saunders, formerly connected with the Central News and now M.P. for Walworth in the English Parliament. He was born at Lavington, Wilts, on June 12th, 1820, and was educated at Bristol. He emigrated to Nelson, N.Z., with the first party of settlers, sailing by the Fifeshire in Sept. 1841. In 1855 he was elected to the Nelson Provincial Council, and was appointed a J.P. in 1858. In the next year, having written a letter to the Nelson Examiner impugning the conduct of District Judge Travers, he was indicted criminally and sentenced to six months' imprisonment and a fine of £150, his name being struck off the commission of the peace. He was, however, promptly released, in compliance with a petition forwarded to the Governor by his fellow-settlers, his popularity being evidenced by the fact that he was re-elected to the Provincial Council whilst still incarcerated. Subsequently he was returned to the House of Representatives, and replaced on the commission of the peace. He, however, declined the position of Colonial Treasurer when it was offered him by Mr. (now Sir William) Fox. He was twice elected Superintendent of Nelson, but resigned in 1867. It was during his term of office that the perpetrators of a horrible series of murders, which startled the colony, Burgess, Kelly, Levy, and Sullivan, were brought to justice. On his return to the colony in 1872, after a long visit to England, Mr. Saunders resided in the Canterbury district, and was elected M.H.R. for Cheviot in 1877, and again in 1879. In 1880 he was Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, which recommended drastic reductions. In 1883 he published "Our Domestic Birds," and in 1885 "Our Horses." He has represented Lincoln in the House of Representatives since 1889.