Edward James Saunderson
He was born at Castle Saunderson, County Cavan. He was the younger son of Colonel Alexander Saunderson, Member of Parliament (MP) for Cavan (d. 1857), his mother being a daughter of the 6th Baron Farnham.
Edward Saunderson was educated abroad, and, having succeeded to the Cavan estates, married in 1865 a daughter of the 3rd Baron Ventry, and in the same year was elected MP. for Cavan as a Palmerstonian Liberal. He lost his seat in 1874, and by 1885, when he again entered parliament for North Armagh, he had become a prominent Orangeman and a Conservative; the question of Irish home rule had now come to the front, and Saunderson's political career as a representative of Irish Unionist had begun.
He had entered the Cavan militia (4th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers) in 1862, was later made major (1875), became colonel in 1886 and was in command of the battalion from 1891 to 1893. In March 1893, Saunderson was one of the signatories of the manifesto of the Ulster Defence Union, launched to organize resistance to the Second Home Rule Bill of 1893.
Almost from the first, Saunderson became a leader of the Irish Unionist party in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, his uncompromising speeches being full of force and humour. For these aspects he was nicknamed 'the Dancing Dervish'. In 1898 his services were recognized by his being made a privy councillor. He died of pneumonia in 1906.
In private life Colonel Saunderson was well known as a keen yachtsman; his character was deeply marked by stern religious feeling, and his fine sincerity, while endearing him to his friends, never lost him the respect of his opponents.
The Irish Saundersons were a 17th-century branch of an old family, originally of Durham; a Lincolnshire branch, the Saundersons of Saxby, held the titles of Viscount Castleton (Irish: c. 1628) and Baron Saunderson (British: c. 1714) up to 1723.
EJ Saunderson's son, Somerset Saunderson, also of Belturbet, Co Cavan was a major in the British Army. In 1947, his grandson, Alexander, married Princess Louise, sister of Titanic victim, John Jacob Astor IV, and the ex-wife of two different Georgian Mdivani princes.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Cavan
1865 – 1874
With: Hugh Annesley
Charles Joseph Fay
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for North Armagh
1885 – 1906
|Lord Lieutenant of Cavan
1900 – 1906