Born January 1769, at Undergrove, Lampeter, son of Thomas and Elinor Saunders, grandson of Evan Saunders, and nephew of David Saunders ‘I’, both preachers at Aberduar, Carmarthenshire. He was educated at local schools, including that of Dafydd Jones, Dol-wlff, Llanwenog, and was bapt. by Timothy Thomas, Aberduar, in July 1784. His family were well-to-do, and he is named among the first burgesses to be admitted at Lampeter after the grant of the new charter in 1814. He began to preach at Aberduar in 1796, was ordained co-pastor of the church 22 October 1800, moved to Zion, Merthyr Tydfil, 13 July 1815, ‘without our consent,’ says Aberduar book (copy in N.L.W. MS. 10785) because of the great popularity he enjoyed at Aberduar, and died at Merthyr 4 February 1840. He was buried at Zion. His ministry at Merthyr Tydfil was a great success, and he is recorded to have baptized 510 persons there in the period 1816-36.
He married (1), 23 June 1815, Margaret Jenkins, a widow, of Dol-wlff, Llanwenog. Their only child, Thomas, was born 19 August 1816. She died April 1817, Thomas was lost in the docks at Bristol, 12 October 1837, and Thomas's infant daughter, Mary, was buried at Zion, 12 September 1837, aged 10 months; (2), 9 June 1829, Catherine Joseph, also a widow, of Merthyr Tydfil (died 1841?). His will (dated 29 March 1838, proved 30 March 1840) refers to property at Merthyr Tydfil and mentions his wife Catherine; his brother John; his son Thomas (‘who is missing and reputed to be dead’); his sisters Mary, Sarah, Elinor, and Gwen; another sister Martha, deceased, and her children, Thomas Morgan and Mary Evans; and his niece Elinor Lloyd.
Saunders is best remembered for his literary work. His exercises and notes in N.L.W. MS. 3260 indicate that he was versed in Welsh strict metres, and much of his poetry was published, e.g. Ychydig a Bennillion Profiadol yn cynnwys Griddfaniad Hiraethlawn Dafydd Saunders, 1815; Dwy Awdl: y gyntaf or Elusengarwch, … yr ail, ar Farwolaeth Syr Thomas Picton, 1820; Awdl ar Fordaith yr Apostol Paul … at yr hyn yr ychwanegwyd ychydig o hymnau newyddion, 1828; and elegies on Samuel Breeze, Newcastle Emlyn, 1812; Zecharias Thomas, Aberduar (2nd ed.), 1816; and Joseph Harris (Gomer, 1826). The latter published a number of Saunders's hymns in Casgliad o Hymnau, 1821, and other poetical works by him are preserved in his own hand in N.L.W. MSS. 791, 7141-2. His theological publications include three volumes of comments on infant baptism published in the period 1821-2 in reply to Thomas Powel, Brecon, another volume of comments (Ychydig o Nodiadau) on a treatise by R. Wright (1816), and three Welsh translations of works by Abraham Booth (1810), John Fawcett (1826), and Thomas Westlake (1828). Sermon notes by him are preserved in N.L.W. MSS. 7141-2, a letter (1817) in N.L.W. MS. 7165, and another letter (1807; published in Spinther, iv, 403-4) of considerable importance in Cwrtmawr MS. 818 giving an account of his Baptist mission at Deptford.
Published date: 1959
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