Catalogue description Saunders Family Papers

This record is held by Buckinghamshire Archives

Details of D 152
Reference: D 152
Title: Saunders Family Papers

Papers of W. W. Saunders (1809-1879), naturalist, and Saunders family correspondence


The collection (see schedule below) comprises (a) diaries or "journals" of William Wilson Saunders (1809-1879), naturalist, mostly for the period 1830-40 and (b) Saunders family correspondence, 1761-1871.


Saunders' scientific interests are reflected in his carefully written journals which record his activities in considerable detail. Unfortunately, there are many gaps and the total period covered is less than four years. An interesting feature of the journals is that most contain tables giving daily meteorological observations.


The correspondence in the collection is mainly domestic in character. The major portion of it consists of letters written to or by Joshua Saunders of East Hill, Wandsworth, an underwriter at Lloyds and the uncle, and later father-in-law of W.W.S., who was also associated with him in the business. It would seem that the family was connected with the old established Bucks family of the same name who held estates in Pitchcott, Brill and elsewhere in the county, but the link is not reflected in the present correspondence apart from a reference in a letter of 1807 to land at Pitchcott belonging to one Thomas Saunders, then at Vienna. The correspondence is fairly continuous from just prior to 1800 but there is also a small group of letters for the 1760s, all written to Sally Pickersgill who married Thomas Saunders, father of Joshua, in about 1762. They include several affectionate and witty letters from her brother Joshua Pickersgill in Turin in which he describes the carnival, the opera and other aspects of social life there. Also worthy of mention are the following: letter from Sidney Smith Saunders about the precautions taken against rioting in London in 1830 ("The Yard of the British Museum conceals troops..."); letters from Thomas Saunders describing the hardships of farming in Canada and referring to the abortive rebellion there, 1836-38; a bundle of copy letters from S.S.W. Saunders relating his experiences as an unsuccessful gold miner in New South Wales, 1864-69. There is a small number of letters written by W.W. Saunders, many of them referring to his scientific interests; one written from India in 1830 when he was 21 shows him already busily engaged in building up a collection of insects.

Date: 1761-1871
Held by: Buckinghamshire Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Saunders family of Wendover, Buckinghamshire and Surrey

Physical description: 3 series
Immediate source of acquisition:

AR 67/67

  • Saunders, William Wilson, 1809-1879, naturalist
Administrative / biographical background:

W.W. Saunders was the second son of James Saunders, vicar of Kirtlington, Oxfordshire, and was born at Little London, near Wendover, Bucks. He later (from c.1831) resided at East Hill, Wandsworth and (from 1857) at Reigate, Surrey, retiring finally to Worthing in 1874. Details of his career may be found in the D.N.B. article where it is stated that "Few contributed more to the advancement of entomology and botany". He was an original member of the Entomological Society and a fellow of the Royal Society, the Zoological Society and others.

Link to NRA Record:

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