William Septimus Saunders

21st Feb 1803 - 1st Dec 1850


Merchant in Mauritius, partner in Saunders, Brothers and Company in London and the firm of Saunders and Wiehe in Port Louis, Mauritius. The compensation for ownership of four enslaved people in Mauritius was awarded to the assignees of Saunders and Wiehe.

  1. Born 21/02/1803 at Southend and baptised 02/04/1803 at St Mary's, Lewisham, Kent, the eighth child of Robert Saunders and Margaret nee Keble. His father was a physician, originally from Scotland, who worked in India for the East India Company in the 1780s but returned to London in the early 1790s.

  2. William Septimus Saunders went into partnership with his brothers James Fergusson Saunders and Charles Alexander Saunders and the Mauritian merchant Johan Jacob Wiehe; William and Johan ran the Mauritius side of the business while James and Charles were based in London. James Fergusson Saunders and Charles Alexander Saunders were the subjects of a fiat of bankruptcy in London in 1832.

  3. He married Sophie Antoinette Wiehe (daughter of John James Wiehe of Mauritius, probably the same man he was in partnership with) in Port Louis, 16/06/1825. They had six children in Mauritius: Louisa Sophia (1827), Emma Margaret (1829), William Henry (1830), Julia Eliza (1832), Alfred Christian (1833) and Sophie Elizabeth (1835). Julia Eliza died in Mauritius in 1835. In 1836 his wife, mother-in-law and four youngest children were sailing on the Doncaster when it was shipwrecked off Cape Agulhas, South Africa, and none survived.

  4. He married, secondly, Matilda Power in Port Louis, 26/04/1838 and they had six children together: Robert Power (1839), Caroline Matilda (1841), Henrietta Susannah (1843), Frederick William (1844), Elizabeth Mary (1846) and Alice Margaret (1849). William Septimus Saunders drowned 01/12/1850 at Holyhead, North Wales. In the 1851 census his widow Matilda and their son Frederick William can be found at 4 Harewood Square, Marylebone, with William's brother James Fergusson Saunders and his family.

  5. The William Septimus Saunders who drowned at Holyhead was identified as the Secretary of the Waterford and Limerick Railway Co. in a report of the inquest in December 1850. 'The first meeting of the shareholders [of the Waterford and Limerick Railway Co.] was held in Waterford on Thursday the 27 August 1845, Thomas Meagher was appointed as president and William Septimus Saunders was appointed secretary. William Saunders was the brother of Charles Saunders who was the company secretary, general manager and superintendent of the Brunel's Great Western Railway.'


T71/902 Mauritius claim no. 1430.

  1. Ancestry.com, London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database online]. Daniel F. Morgan, 'Descendants of William Sanders, Minister of Bellie, and his Brother John Sanders, Minister of Nairn', at http://www.mit.edu/~dfm/genealogy/saunders.html [accessed 23/12/2013] sourced to Herbert Clifford Saunders, compiler, Saunders Pedigree (London, ca. 1884).

  2. Richard Vaughan Barnewell and John Leycester Adolphus, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of the King's Bench Vol. 1 pp. 398-402 (London, A. Strahan, 1831). London Gazette, Issue 18946 p. 1415 (19/06/1832); London Gazette, Issue 19147 p. 711 (18/04/1834).

  3. Daniel F. Morgan, 'Descendants'. Malcolm Turner, Shipwrecks and Salvage in South Africa: 1500 to the Present p. 125. 'Wrecks and Survivors: Doncaster' at http://www.sagenealogy.co.za/WreckDoncaster.htm [accessed 23/12/2013].

  4. Daniel F. Morgan, 'Descendants'. FreeUKGen, England and Wales Free BMD Database, Deaths, 1837-1983 [database online]. 1851 census online.

  5. North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser 14/12/1850 p. 4, http://newspapers.library.wales/view/4521102/4521106/8/inquest [accessed 03/06/2017]; DEVELOPMENTS IN TRANSPORT IN EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH CENTURY LIMERICK – THE COMING OF THE RAILWAY (Unpublished article) By MARTINA CLANCY Researcher with History and Folklore Project, Limerick Civic Trust April 2008 – October 2011, p.7. the_coming_of_the_railway_to_limerick_by_martina_clancy.pdf [accessed 03/06/2017].

We are grateful to Sean Creighton for drawing our attention to the link with the Waterford and Limerick Railway Co.

Further Information

(1) Sophie Antoinette Wiehe (2) Matilda Power
With (1) Louisa Sophia (1827-), Emma Margaret (1829-1836), William Henry (1830-1836), Julia Eliza (1832-1835), Alfred Christian (1833-1836), Sophie Elizabeth (1835-1836). With (2) Robert Power (1839-1871), Caroline Matilda (1841-), Henrietta Susannah (184

Associated Claims (1)

£44 14s 11d
Previous owner (not making a claim)

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)


Relationships (2)

Notes →
Also business partners until their bankruptcy in...
Business partners

Addresses (1)

Southend, Lewisham, Kent, London, England