My Saunders ancestors had one of the shorter journeys to move into London. Nathan Saunders, my 3x great grandfather, was born in Cottered, Hertfordshire in 1822, the son of John Saunders (died 1824) and Charlotte, nee Palmer. John and Charlotte had previously buried a son, also named Nathan, who had died in 1821. Charlotte obviously had a troubled time losing her son and her husband within a few years.
By 1841 Nathan was living in Westmill, Hertfordshire , a village a few miles from Cottered. In 1845 he married Eliza Bunce, daughter of William Bunce, a carpenter, of Westmill. The Bunce family had lived in the Westmill area since at least the 1600s. Nathan and Eliza married in the village church.
Nathan and Eliza didn’t remain in Westmill for long. Perhaps there was little work for a young couple just starting out on married life. Barely 5 months after the wedding, my great great grandfather, John William Saunders, was born in Pegs Lane, Hertford. Nathan, having been a grocer at the time of his marriage, according to the certificate, was now a labourer.
Things don’t seem to have gone too well for the new family. By 1851 Eliza was living in London, working as a servant in the household of John and Beatrice Wells in Brecknock Crescent, St Pancras, and Nathan was still in Pegs Lane, Hertford with their son John William, aged 3, and his mother, Charlotte Saunders aged 65. Nathan died in April 1852 in Hertford. The cause of death was “Jaundice – certified” . He was only 30 and had been working as a carman.
What had caused the couple to split up after only a few years of marriage? Had Eliza decided to seek work in London to support her family, or had she decided to leave Nathan and her son for some reason?
Whatever the reason for the family not being together, Eliza remarried fairly quickly. On November 11th 1852, just 7 months after Nathan’s death, she married Phillip Crosse Cannell, a milkman of Little Randolph Street, St Pancras.