This famous surname of either English or Greek derivation has truly ancient origins. The name in its various spellings has long been accepted as being a derivative of the Greek personal name 'Alexander' which was recorded from 2000 B.C., but it is now certain that for many nameholders, the origin is Olde English and locational from Sanderstead in Surrey. This latter place was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles of the year 871 a.d as 'Sondenstede' - the house on the sandy land. The Grecian 'Alexander' translates as "Defender of Men", a meaning which contributed greatly to its world wide popularity. 'Alexander' was introduced into England by the Crusaders, who, as the Knights of St.John, used the island of Crete as their base for the many fruitless attempts to conquer the Holy Land. The known forms of the name are Saunder, Sandar, and Sander, whilst Saunders, Sanders, and Sandars, are patronymics. Early examples of the surname recording include William Sandre of Kent in 1316, and Richard Saunder of Stafford in the Subsidy Rolls of that county for the year 1332. Other examples include Sir Edward Saunders, Chief-baron of the exchequer to Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1559, whilst Francis Sanders, (1648 - 1710), a Jesuit priest was confessor to the exiled King James 11 of England, at the palace of St. Germain in France. The Sanders of Sanders Place, Surrey, claim descent from Watkin de Sanderstead in pre Norman times. The coat of arms has the blazon of a black field charged with an ermine chevron between three bulls heads cabossed silver. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Sandres, which was dated 1275, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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