George Sanders (1774-1846)

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
George Sanders, by Andrew Geddes, (c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The name George Sanders cropped up during our research so as always we felt compelled to learn a little more about him. Our first port of call being the usual online sources such as DNB.  Sure enough  there he was on the DNB website, George Sanders born 1774, Kinghorn, Fife, son of John Sanders and his wife, Jean, née Bruce, so of course we wanted to check out his details date of birth, siblings etc and anything else we might glean from his baptism.

So far so good, this was going to be really straightforward or so we thought, until we realized that we couldn’t immediately find his baptism from the information we had.  After a few minutes we realized that the reason for this being that there was a second George also born in 1774, not in Kinghorn, Fife, but in Keith,Banff, now part of Moray, Scotland.

The George born 1774 at Kinghorn, Fife, with the correct parents, was in fact a George Saunders, not Sanders as shown in the baptism register below.

George Saunders 1774 baptism
George Saunders baptized 4th May 1774, Kinghorn, Fife. Parents John Saunders and Jean Bruce

So, this has left us with the dilemma as to which child the artist was, as there is no definitive proof we have included the baptism for George Sanders below. It seems likely that this George Sanders remained in Banff  where he married and had at least one child in 1800, but then he disappeared.

George SANDERS baptism 5th Jan 1774
George Sanders born 5th Jan 1774, parents James Sanders and Elizabeth Keith

We checked the 1841 census just to make sure which name was recorded on there and sure enough he was recorded as George Sanders, 25 Allsop Terrace, London then his death which was reported as having taken place on 26th March 1846, according to The Times of  Saturday, 28th March 1846, then his burial, again buried as Sanders.

George Sanders All Souls Kensal Green burial
George Sanders All Souls Kensal Green burial

And finally his will, and sure enough  … Sanders. Unfortunately in his will there were no family members named only two close friends, shipbuilders of Leith, one of whom was Thomas Menzies, so we can only assume that he had no family remaining when he wrote his will or he that he chosen not to include them.

We have found no mention of George being known as Saunders, he is even included in the Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Men of Fife of Past and Present Times by Matthew Forster Connolly (1789-1877), published 1866.

So was he actually the George Saunders of Fife as shown in the first baptism and opted to change his name to Sanders when he moved to England about 1806 or was he actually the George Sanders born in Banff?  We really can’t decide, so if anyone can shed any light on this we would love to hear from you.

Lord Byron Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron (1788-1824) painted c1807-1809 Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
(c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Mary Elizabeth Egerton (1782–1846), Lady Sykes (c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Admiral George Keith Elphinstone (1746–1823), 1st Viscount Keith (c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
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