SAUNDERSON, Sir Nicholas, 1st Bt. (c.1560-1631), of Fillingham, Lincs. and Sandbeck, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1560,1 1st s. of Robert Saunderson of Fillingham and his 2nd w. Katherine, da. of Vincent Grantham† of St. Katherine’s Priory, Lincoln, Lincs.; bro. of Robert†.2 educ. Oxf. BA 1579; L. Inn 1579.3 m. 25 Aug. 1584,4 Mildred, da. and h. of John Hiltoft of Boston, 10s. (6 d.v.p.) 7da. (4 d.v.p.).5 suc. fa. 1582;6 kntd. 23 Apr. 1603;7 cr. bt. 25 Nov. 1611, Visct. Castleton [I] 11 July 1627.8 d. 17 May 1631.9

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Lincs. by 1589-92, Fenland 1604, river Gleane, Lincs. and Notts. 1607-25, Lincoln 1608, 1627, Newark, Notts. 1610;10 j.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) by 1591-1629, Yorks. (W. Riding) by 1614-16, 1627-d.;11 steward and bailiff, Derlington and Ragenhull manors, Notts. 1592;12 sheriff, Lincs. 1592-3, 1613-14;13 commr. musters, Lincs. 1602;14 steward (jt.), honour of Tickhill, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1606-d.;15 commr. Admlty. causes, Lincs. 1608,16 recusants, 1608, 1624,17 recusancy, Northern parts 1627,18 subsidy, Lincs. (Lindsey) 1608, 1621-2, 1624, 1625,19 aid 1609,20 swans, Lincs., Northants., Rutland, Notts. 1619, 1625,21 oyer and terminer, Midlands circ. 1622-d.,22 Forced Loan, Lincs. (Kesteven, Lindsey) 1627,23 survey, Hatfield forest, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1628;24 collector of knighthood fines, Lincs. 1630-d.25

Commr. inquiry into wool trade 1622.26


Saunderson’s grandfather, a Yorkshire yeoman by birth, settled in Lincolnshire in the middle of the sixteenth century. His father purchased land in both counties.27 The first member of the family to sit in Parliament was Saunderson’s younger brother, Robert, who represented West Looe in 1589, while he himself was returned for Great Grimsby in 1593. He did not stand again for over 30 years, concentrating instead on local affairs, where he showed great zeal in pursuing recusants and extending and improving his estates. By increasing his income from £500 to over £3,000 a year, he became one of Lincolnshire’s leading landowners.28 Knighted at Belvoir in 1603 by the new king en route to London, he was appointed three years later to the stewardship of Tickhill in Yorkshire, an office he shared first with his son-in-law, and then with his eldest son.29 Saunderson was one of the Lincolnshire gentlemen appointed in 1611 to confer with the Board of Green Cloth about compounding for purveyance in Lindsey.30 Despite objections to his want of ‘nobility’, he was among the first to purchase a baronetcy later that year.31

Saunderson’s reputation was not an altogether savoury one. He was prosecuted by the enclosure commission in 1607, together with Sir William Wray*, for the ‘decay’ of four farms.32 During his second shrievalty, in 1614, he was accused of embezzling money that should have gone to the Crown, and as a subsidy commissioner it was alleged that he lowered his own assessment. Moreover, it was said that he abused his position on the commission of the peace. Sitting on a case against his own servants brought by a poor widow whom he had turned out of her property, he reportedly threatened her witnesses and accused her of witchcraft.33

Saunderson forged connections with the two most powerful families in the neighbourhood when his eldest son married the sister of John Manners*, and one of his daughters wed Sir Peregrine Bertie*.34 Perhaps aided by his cousin, Sir Thomas Grantham*, a former knight of the shire, Saunderson was returned for Lincolnshire in 1625, and thereby reappeared in the Commons after an absence of 32 years. The first of his four recorded speeches, in committee of the whole House on 23 June, was to recommend new measures to prevent evasion of the recusancy laws.35 On 25 June he successfully claimed privilege to stay proceedings in an action over a disputed advowson.36 He was appointed to consider bills to punish abuses of the Sabbath (22 June); to facilitate the alienation of land (25 June); to restrict benefit of clergy (25 June); to prevent the export of wool (27 June); to restrain the use of habeas corpus and excommunication (27 June); to prevent bribery for judicial appointments (29 June); and to repeal a statute concerning clerical incomes (11 July).37 On 30 June he came out strongly in support of an immediate supply, arguing that ‘it hath pleased His Majesty to acquaint us with his wants; we have engaged him in a war, which must be established by counsel, which is nothing worth without money, which is the sinews of war’, adding that Lincolnshire was ‘willing to contribute as much as maybe, the most the House shall agree of’, a statement not altogether borne out by the attitude of other Members from his county.38 After the session had adjourned to Oxford to avoid the plague in London, Saunderson attempted, on 10 Aug., to respond to the king’s request for additional supply, previously delivered by (Sir) John Coke*, but he ‘was not permitted, because it remained under a committee and ought not to be spoken to in the House before a report’.39 Shortly before the dissolution two days later, Saunderson chided the Commons for driving Charles towards ‘desperate and unthrify bargains’ by its miserly supply, which he said was ‘nothing to the proportion of his necessities’; but his reproaches again fell on deaf ears.40

After returning home, Saunderson looked for some return for his loyalty, writing to Coke that ‘in the county of Lincoln where I dwell His Majesty may have occasion to employ a man of my place’. He furthermore added that his son, who delivered the letter personally, ‘meaneth to spend most of his time in the Court, where I pray he may have your favourable respect’.41 The latter, William, was knighted and became a royal equerry shortly afterwards.42 Two years later Saunderson himself received an Irish peerage through the good offices of Sir Edward Howard II*.43 One of the few enthusiastic supporters of the Forced Loan in Lincolnshire, he suggested ways of improving its collection.44

On making out his will on 20 Feb. 1630, Saunderson, who described himself as being 70 years of age, left landed property to each of his four surviving sons, commending the eldest to the special protection of Sir Thomas Wentworth* In addition he made numerous charitable bequests, including £10 p.a. for his almshouses at Tickhill, and 10d. a week for the poor in the hospital at Spittle.45 He had begun to erect a new house at Sandbeck, but before its completion he died on 17 May 1631, and was buried at Saxby, near Fillingham.46 His grandson George established a remarkable record by representing Lincolnshire continuously from 1660 to 1695.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Paula Watson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. PROB 11/160, f. 60.
  • 2. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 857-8.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; LI Admiss.
  • 4. Boston Reg. (Lincoln Rec. Soc. par. reg. l), 20.
  • 5. Coll. Top. et Gen. iv. 382.
  • 6. C142/202/190.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 103.
  • 8. CB, i. 99; CP, iii. 99-100.
  • 9. C142/471/61.
  • 10. Lansd. 60, f. 189; C181/1, f. 75; 181/2, ff. 48, 75, 119, 353; 181/3, ff. 168v, 228v; Recs. of Sewers Commrs. ed. A.M. Kirkus (Lincoln Rec. Soc. liv), p. lxxvi.
  • 11. Hatfield House, ms 278; C66/1988, 2527; C231/4, ff. 13, 237; 231/5, f. 13.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 178.
  • 13. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 80.
  • 14. G.A.J. Hodgett, Tudor Lincs. 118.
  • 15. Duchy of Lancaster Office-Holders ed. R. Somerville, 156.
  • 16. HCA 14/39, no. 217.
  • 17. Lansd. 166, f. 263; HMC Rutland, i. 471.
  • 18. APC, 1627, p. 313.
  • 19. SP14/31/1; 14/123/77; HMC Rutland, i. 463; C212/22/20-1, 23; Sandbeck Park, Lumley mss MTD/B112/8.
  • 20. SP14/43/107.
  • 21. C181/2, f. 341v; 181/3, f. 164v.
  • 22. C181/3, ff. 62, 258.
  • 23. Lincs. AO, 2 ANC 8/4; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145.
  • 24. C66/2409.
  • 25. E178/7154, f. 66; E198/4/32, f. 2v.
  • 26. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, p. 12.
  • 27. CPR, 1553-4, p. 96; 1555-7, p. 412; Her. et Gen. ii, 118; Hunter, S. Yorks. i. 273-4; G. Holles, Lincs. Church Notes (Lincs. Rec. Soc. i), 122-3.
  • 28. HMC Hatfield, xi. 440; Lansd. 166, ff. 263-5.
  • 29. Lansd. 94, f. 139; Duchy of Lancaster Office-Holders, 156.
  • 30. HMC Rutland, i. 430.
  • 31. C66/1942; Lansd. 152, ff. 12, 17.
  • 32. J.W.F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, 141; Add. 11574, ff. 76, 92.
  • 33. C. Holmes, Seventeenth-Cent. Lincs. 98-9.
  • 34. HMC Lords, n.s. xi. 183.
  • 35. Procs. 1625, p. 231.
  • 36. Ibid. 245.
  • 37. Ibid. 215, 246, 252, 253, 269, 368.
  • 38. Ibid. 275.
  • 39. Ibid. 447.
  • 40. Ibid. 482.
  • 41. HMC Cowper, i. 229.
  • 42. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 385.
  • 43. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 319.
  • 44. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 341.
  • 45. PROB 11/160, f. 60; Lincs. N and Q, vi. 86-87; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 56.
  • 46. Sandbeck Park, Lumley mss MTD/B8/3; Coll. Top. et Gen. iv. 382.