Reverend Lawrence Saunders

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Lawrence Saunders, Reverend

Also Known As: "" The Martyr ""
Birthplace: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom
Death: February 08, 1555 (31-40)
Coventry, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom (Burned At The Stake at St. Mary's Overy)
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Saunders and Margaret Saunders
Husband of Elizabeth Saunders and Joanna Saunders
Father of Samuel Saunders
Brother of Sir Edward Saunders, MP; Robert Saunders, MP and Ambrose Saunders

Occupation: Reverend
Managed by: Linda S. Sidwell
Last Updated:

About Reverend Lawrence Saunders

Laurence Saunders

Lawrence Saunders (1519 – February 8, 1555) was an English Protestant martyr whose story is recorded in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Saunders was the son of Thomas Saunders (d.1528) of Sibbertoft, Northamptonshire, by Margaret, the daughter of Richard Cave (d.1538) of Stanford, Northamptonshire, and his first wife, Elizabeth Mervin.[1] He had five brothers, the judge Sir Edward Saunders (d.1576), the lawyer and merchant Robert Saunders (d.1559), Joseph Saunders, and the merchants Blase Saunders (d.1581) and Ambrose Saunders (d.1586), and three sisters, Sabine, wife of the merchant John Johnson, Christian (d.1545), wife of Christopher Breten, and Jane, wife of Clement Villiers.[2]

Saunders was educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge.[3] After graduating BA in 1541 he was apprenticed to Sir William Chester,[4] but soon abandoned mercantile pursuits and continued his studies, proceeding MA in 1544 and obtaining a doctorate in theology. In the early years of the reign of Edward VI he obtained a licence to preach.[5] Being a man of much ability he was very popular, and was appointed reader at Fotheringhay and later at Lichfield Cathedral.[6] In 1553 he was granted the living at All Hallows Bread Street in London[7] where George Marsh was his curate.

On 15 October 15, 1553 he preached at Northampton, warning the congregation that 'the errors of the popish religion' would be restored to the church by Queen Mary and that England was threatened with the visitation of God for her 'lukewarm indifference in the cause of Christ, and the privileges of his glorious gospel'.[citation needed] In October 1554 he was arrested by the order of the Bishop of London after having given a sermon at All Hallows Bread Street.[8] After three months imprisonment he was arraigned on 29 January 1555, and convicted of heresy.[9] He was taken to Coventry,[10] and burned at the stake on 8 February 1555. Before being chained to the stake, he kissed it, saying, 'Welcome the cross of Christ, welcome everlasting life!'.[11] The martyrdom of Saunders was said to have been the start of Joyce Lewis's conversion and her later martyrdom.[12]

While at Lichfield, Saunders had married a woman named Joanna, by whom he had a son, Samuel. After her husband's death Joanna left England in the company of Robert and Lucy Harrington. Lucy Harrington died shortly thereafter, and by 18 June 1556 Joanna had married Robert Harrington.[13]



  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 50
  • Saunders, Laurence by William Arthur Shaw
  • 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.]
  • From:,_Laurence_(DNB00)



  • Genealogical Memoirs of the Extinct Family of Chester of Chicheley ..., Volume 1 By Robert Edmond Chester Waters
  • .... etc.
  • RICHARD CAVE Esq. of Stanford, the eldest son of Thomas Cave by Thomasine Passemere of Essex, greatly increased his patrimony and the social position of his family. He was High Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 22 Hen. VIII. 1530, and was the first of his name who filled that office. He owed much of his advancement to his friendly intimacy with Cromwell, who was then the chief secretary of Cardinal Wolsey, and was fast rising to power. Several letters from Richard Cave and his son Thomas are preserved in the State-Paper Office amongst Cromwell's correspondence. The earliest is dated 18th June 1528, when after thanking him for his good cheer during his recent visit, Cave asks him to provide for his son Anthony, who wanted a place in England fit for a merchant to fill. (4) It appears from other letters that Cromwell was a frequent and friendly visitor at Stanford, and that he was always willing to assist his friend in procuring favourable leases of tithes and other church lands in the gift of the Cardinal and the King. (4) It is evident from his Will that Cave acquired considerable wealth, which enabled him to make ample provision for his numerous children. But as he died in 1538, before the dissolution of Monasteries, he cannot fairly be reckoned amongst those new men who were enriched by the spoliation of the religious houses, although his sons afterwards shared largely in the plunder.
  • Richard Cave had two wives. By his first wife Elizabeth Mervin of Church
  • Lawford in Warwicksliire, who died 9th Angnst 1493, he had only two children Edward and Margaret.
  • 1. Edward Cave married Dorothy, daughter and coheir of Nicholas Mallory Esq. of Newbold Revell, co. Warwick, and died in his father's lifetime, leaving two daughters Catharine and Margaret. Catharine married before 1536 Sir Thomas Andrew Kt. of Charwelton, and died 18th August 1555. Their son Thomas Andrew had the lamentable honour of presiding at the execution of Mary Queen of Scots on 8th February 1586-7, he being the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire in that year. (5) Margaret married after 1536 Thomas Boughton Esq. of Causton in Warwickshire.
  • 2. Margaret Cave married Thomas Saunders Esq. of Sibbertoft, co. Leicester, who died 1st March 1528-9, leaving seven sons and six daughters. (6) Two of their sons were personages of some note. Lawrence Saunders sometime apprentice to Sir William Chester, and afterwards Rector of All Hallows Broad-street, was burnt to death for heresy at Coventry 8th Feb. 1554-5, and has been already noticed in my account of Sir William Chester. His brother Sir Edward Saunders was a fervent Catholic and a zealous partizan of Queen Mary, who appointed him a Judge of Common Pleas 4th Oct. 1553. He was knighted by King Philip on 27th Jan. 1554-5, just two days before his brother's conviction, and his letters are extant by which he vainly implored his brother to retract his errors 'about the most Blessed and our most comfortable Sacrament of the Altar.' He became Chief-Justice of England 8th May 1557, but soon after the accession of Queen Elizabeth was removed, on account of his attachment to the old religion, into the Court of Exchequer, of which he was Chief-Baron until his death. (7) He died in London 12th Nov. 1576, and probably of some contagious fever, as his chaplain died at the same time. His body was removed to his seat in Warwickshire at Weston-under-Weatherley, where his monument still remains ; but his interment is thus noticed in the Burial Register of St. Peter-le-Poor London : '1576. Nov. 26. Sir Edward Saunders Lord Chief-Baron and John Smyth clerk, his chaplain, whose corpses were carried into the country.' Sir Edward was one of the supervisors of the Will of his uncle Anthony Cave of Chicheley.
  • The second wife of Richard Cave was Margaret Saxby, the sister of William and John Saxby, who were considerable Merchants of the Staple at Northampton and Calais. William Saxby brought up his nephew Anthony Cave to his own business, and died without issue in April 1517. There is a brass to his memory in Stanford Church.
  • .... etc.


  • SAUNDERS, Edward (1506-76), of Whitefriars, London; Westminster, Mdx. and Weston-under-Wetherley, Warws.
  • b. 4 Apr. 1506, 1st surv. s. of Thomas Saunders of Sibbertoft, Northants. by Margaret, da. of Richard Cave of Stanford, Northants.; bro. of Robert. educ. Camb.; M. Temple, adm. 3 May 1524. m. (1) by 1540, Margery (d. 11 Oct. 1563), da. of Sir Thomas Englefield of Englefield, Berks., wid. of George Carew (d.1538) of (?Bury St. Edmunds) Suff., 1da.; (2) by 1566, Agnes, da. of one Hussey. suc. fa. 8 Mar. 1528. Kntd. 27 Jan. 1555.[footnote]
  • .... etc.
  • .... He does not appear to have been compromised by the arrest for heresy of his younger brother Lawrence, to whom he wrote in prison urging him to
    • reform your error in the opinion of the most blessed and our most comfortable sacrament of the altar the accustomable using whereof I am fully professed unto during my life, and to give more faith unto the confessions of holy Bernard than to Luther ... for that the antiquity, the universality of the ... Church and the consent of all saints and doctors do confirm the same.
  • Two days before his brother was arraigned, Saunders was knighted by King Philip. As a judge he was summoned to the Lords in each Parliament of the reign and in 1558 he served for the first time as a receiver of petitions.6 .... etc.
  • From:


  • SAUNDERS, Robert (c.1514-59), of Flore, Northants.
  • b. c.1514, 2nd surv. s. of Thomas Saunders of Sibbertoft by Margaret, da. of Richard Cave of Stanford; bro. of Edward. educ. ?M. Temple. m. (1) Margaret, da. and h. of Thomas Stanton of Stanton, Mon., 2s. 1da.; (2) by Oct. 1558, Joyce, da. of Sir John Goodwin of Upper Winchendon, Bucks. at least 1s.1
  • .... etc.
  • .... Of Saunders’s part in the Commons all that is known is that he opposed the reintroduction of Catholicism in the Parliament of October 1553: this gesture of defiance to the Marian regime and his younger brother Lawrence’s Protestantism may have cost him his seat in the next three Parliaments of the reign, but it did not prevent him from supporting his kinsman Thomas Boughton’s election in 1555. .... etc.
  • From:


  • SAUNDERS, Robert (c.1514-59), of Flore, Northants.
  • b. c.1514, 2nd surv. s. of Thomas Saunders of Sibbertoft by Margaret, da. of Richard Cave of Stanford; bro. of Edward Saunders†. educ. M. Temple, ?adm. 1518. m. (1) Margaret, da. and h. of Thomas Stanton of Stanton, Mon., 2s. 1da.; (2) by Oct. 1558, Joyce, da. of Sir John Goodwin of Upper Winchendon, Bucks., at least 1s.
  • .... etc.
  • .... Two of his brothers were better known. Edward was a judge under Queen Mary, and Lawrence was martyred at Coventry in the same reign. As Robert himself was one of those who ‘stood for the true religion’ in the Parliament of October it is likely that his religious views were closer to those of Lawrence than to those of Edward, who had written to Lawrence urging him to submit. .... etc.
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Reverend Lawrence Saunders's Timeline

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom
February 8, 1555
Age 36
Coventry, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom