Case Study: Memorial of Richard Saunders died 1845, Landewednack
Jo Esra, our research mentor, uses the methodology of gravestone mapping to guide her research into our ten maritime churches. Here are the first strands of thought for a new micro-case study on a particular memorial that captured Jo’s interest. Could you help us piece together the rest of the story?
Looking at closely: Memorial of Richard Saunders died 1845 in possibly in St. Whywallow’s Church, Landewednack
A marble memorial within Landewednack church is inscribed with the following:
‘To the memory of RICHARD SAUNDERS, / fourth son of Joseph and Elizabeth Saunders of this parish / who died at Penang, East Indies October 4th 1845, aged 40 / For many years an officer in the E.I. service, / and subsequently Commander of several East Indiamen / Latterly a member of the firm of / Messrs. Saunders, May and Co. Merchants of Calcutta. / Thro` life he maintained a course of inflexible virtue / integrity and honorable exertion / as husband, father, son, brother and friend / tender, dutiful and affectionate. / He lived a Christian, and he died a saint. / “Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him” / Also of MARY ALEXANDRINA, the beloved child of / Richard Saunders and Charlotte, his wife, / who died on board the Dido off Penang July 15th 1843 / aged 10 months 22 days. / “Of such is the kingdom of heaven”‘
See the maritime register recording of the grave >
Note how the record mentions HMS Miranda as being associated with Richard Saunders, situating his death as a casualty in the Crimean War (October 1853 to February 1856). This raises immediate questions about the date inscribed on the gravestone and the accuracy of this information. What was Richard Saunders task?
This memorial is also listed on the St Keverne Local History Society, Canon Diggens Archive here >
‘Richard Saunders / To the memory of Richard Saunders, fourth son of Joseph and Elizabeth Saunders of this parish, who died at Pensang East Indies Oct. 4th 1848 aged 40. / They that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. / Also of Mary Alexandrena the beloved child of Richard Saunders and Charlotte his wife who died on board the Dido off Pensang July 10th, 1845 aged 10 months. / “Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven”‘
Further questions concerning the accuracy of the inscribed dates are further raised. The above dates appear incorrect and differ from the memorial inscription. Richard here supposedly dies in 1848 and his daughter, 1845. However we know that Charlotte remarried in 1846, which you can evidently see documented here:
The newspaper article details how Richard’s widow, Charlotte, remarried on the 5 November, to George May Esq. of Calcutta. George therefore may have been involved in the merchant business and perhaps even Richard’s business partner.
A further description of Richard Saunder’s profession is detailed in St Keverne Local History Society Archive.
‘For many years an Officer in the East Indian Service and subsequently Commander. Latterly a member of the Firm of Messrs Saunders May & Co., merchants of Calcutta. Through life he maintained a life of inflexible virtue, integrity, and honourable exertion. As a husband, father, son, brother, and friend, tender dutiful and affectionate. He lived a Christian, and died a Saint.’
Further contextual research to consider
The East India Company
You can delve deeper into the India Office Records, which are the archives of the administration in London of the East India Company and the pre-1947 government of India. The official archives of the India Office Records are complemented by deposits of private papers relating to the British experience in India. Access them here >
Is this the Dido involved in action against pirates?
See The London Gazette, part 3 >
See more details here >
The below articles convey the connections between Saunders, May and Company and the Merchants of Calcutta.
As we look through Allen’s Indian Mail and Register of Intelligence for British and Foreign India, China and All Parts of the East, Vol. III, January-December 1845, we wonder whether this could this be ‘our’ Richard Saunders?
29 August 1841: a birth was recorded in The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australasia, Vol. XXXVI – New Series, September-December 1841 (London: 1841), p. 301
We can see Charlotte’s remarriage in more detail here in Allen’s Indian Mail and Register of Intelligence for British and Foreign India, China and All Parts of the East, Vol. IV, January-December 1846.
Interested in piecing together elements of Richard Saunder’s jigsaw puzzle? Contact us and remember to post your research on social media, tagging us in!
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