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View Tree for Robert Sanderson, Sr.Robert Sanderson, Sr. (b. date unknown, d. Oct 07, 1693)

Robert Sanderson, Sr.475 was born date unknown, and died Oct 07, 1693 in Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts. He married Mary on Bef. 1641.

 Includes NotesNotes for Robert Sanderson, Sr.:
The Sanderson family has a proud heritage in England, where it is one of the oldest surnames on record, as well as in Colonial America, where as fine artisans they created the first fine silver and gold products, produced the first coins in the country as mintmasters, and became very wealthy (apparently they kept a lot of their mint work). The origin of the surname "Sanderson" is Scottish and English. It's a patronymic from the personal name 'Sander', a reduced form of Alexander, or the classical Greek Alexandros, which probably originally meant ‘repulser of men’, from alexein (‘to repel’) + andros, genitive of aner (‘man’)—which makes it a rotten name for a woman. The Sanderson variant of the name is English in origin, from the time of the Norman conquests, and can first be found in the county of Durham. The Sanderson family there is descended from ALEXANDER, a Norman noble who had been granted lands in Waslington, Durham, and whose son, James, took the surname SAUNDERSON. The family Coat of Arms features six silver and blue stripes on a diagonal black stripe three gold rings. The Crest is a black dog on a green mound. The family motto, "Je suis veillant à plaire," means "I am watchful to please." Our lineage to this family can be traced to ROBERT SANDERSON, born in 1608, in Norwich, Norfolk, England. He and his brother Edward (1615-1645) came to America and lived in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
Robert had apprenticed as a silversmith from 1626 to 1635, to William Rawlins in London, England. His mark (bottom of page) was registered at Goldsmith's Hall in London in 1635, but he left soon after that for the American colonies. A fortune was to be made as a silversmith in the colonies. In the beginning the Colonists in the New World only used what utensils they could make. Probably the first plates and perhaps even the first spoons were made of wood. This early ware was known as "treen"—a term derived from the word trees. But there were also pewterers among the early settlers and they were soon making spoons and plates of pewter. The first silver articles made by Americans were spoons. (Knives and forks were not in general use until the eighteenth century.) Today American spoons of the seventeenth century are rare, although many must have been made. The reason for their scarcity today is probably because they got such hard use that they had to be melted down and reformed, either into a later spoon design or into other articles. But whatever the reason for scarcity, the few early spoons known to still exist today are in museums or private collections. One fine early spoon with the mark of Sanderson and his partner, John Hull, is in the Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts (above). It has a large bowl like a fig, and the handle is a straight piece. This type, usually called the "Puritan spoon," is the earliest known design in this country.
After the spoon, the porringer, bowl, and tankard were made by silversmiths for food and drink. Liquor in some form was generally enjoyed by everyone in those days, even by the clergy. Those who could afford it had these articles made of silver. The tankards were usually made large to hold the large quantities of liquor necessary to stay warm in a cold climate.
Silversmiths were rare in early America and highly regarded in the community—and Robert Sanderson was one of the best. He was one of the first settlers in Hampton, New Hampshire, and was made freeman in the 7th of September in 1639. He lived there with his first wife, named LYDIA.
Prosperous citizens and clergy took their coins to Robert and had them melted down and fashioned into household articles—spoons, tankards, and porringers. After melting the coins, Robert refined the metal, and poured it into a skillet to form a flat block of silver. The block was hammered out to the desired thickness and worked into whatever article the patron ordered. The metal was worked while cold, but was repeatedly heated over charcoal to prevent brittleness and to make it tougher. This process was called "annealing."
A finished article was polished by rubbing with pumice and then with a burnisher. This method did not cut away the surface but simply rubbed it smooth while leaving some hammer marks. Collectors feel that these marks add to the charm of a piece of old silver. The surface of antique silver has a patina rather like that of fine old wood and rubbing. Furthermore, since each piece was made by hand, no two were alike.
A merchant who had his coins made into household articles would have them engraved with initials or crest. In this way his wealth in silver was useful; it was still an investment, but it was not likely to be stolen, for initialed silver was fairly easy to trace. Old records show that sometimes articles of silver were stolen, but after advertisements appeared with a detailed description of some family piece, it was usually returned and the thief punished.
According to the book "Hands that built New Hampshire: the story of granite state craftsmen past & present:"
"The first New Hampshire silversmith of which there is any record was Robert Sanderson, a highly trained English 'goldsmith'. In 1638, at the age of thirty, he took up eighty acres in the town of Hampton and lived there for four years. Then he went to Boston, where he became associated with his friend, John Hull, silversmith and master of the mint, which was established by the General Court in Boston, 1652. There are no proofs that Sanderson ever worked at his trade in Hampton. The only evidence of his New Hampshire sojourn is found in the neglected grave of his wife, Lydia; in the tradition that his daughter, Mary, was the first white child born in Hampton; and in the positive record that he owned property on the plantation."
The line about the "neglected grave of his wife, Lydia" seems to imply that the authors knew of a gravestone for Robert's wife in Hampton. So by the time Robert moved to Watertown in 1642, Lydia had probably died. But Robert married again: to MARY CROSS before 1641, in Hampton. Mary was born in 1617 in Hampton, and died on the 21st of June, 1691, in New Haven, Connecticut. After three years in Hampton, Robert and Mary moved to Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, and from there to Boston, where Robert would go on to make his name and fortune. Because the settlers of New England were religious, the first silver made there was usually for churches and reflected the simple tastes of the people. Even today many New England churches are proud owners of early silver that has been treasured for generations. Robert was a member of the First Church in Boston, and made many silver products for his place of worship. You can see his work for the church in the Museum of Fine Arts today
THE FIRST MONEY Indiana AMERICA Until 1652 the Colonies had no currency. In that year, John Hull, a silversmith from London and probably the first silversmith to work in Boston, was made mintmaster by the General Court of Massachusetts. When Hull was named master of the Mint, he took Robert, a more accomplished silversmith, into partnership with him. Hull cut an outrageous deal with the British—his share in the profits of the mint was fifteen pence out of every twenty shillings—and became the wealthiest man in America.¹ Robert did pretty well, too (rumor has it that later in life, he kept minting coins even after their contract with the British was up). They produced the willow-tree, oak tree, and pine-tree shilling used in the New England Colonies until 1683. A mint committee document dated "Boston : 11: June. 1652" recorded the oath of office created for the deposition of the mintmasters: "Itt is Ordered that the Oath here vnder written shall be the oath that John Hull and Robt Saunderson shall take as aequall officers In the minting of mony &c." The oath then began as follows: "Whereas yow : John Hull and Robert Saunderson are Appointed by the order of the Gennerall Courte bearing date the 10th of June 1652. to be officers for the massachusetts Jurisdiction in New England, for the melting, Refyning, and Coining of silver..."
Customers brought in silver buttons, tankards, goblets, knives, old sword hilts, spoons and European coins which were melted down and converted into the coinage. Hull and Sanderson's fee was handsome—they kept one out of every twenty shillings minted—plus "wastage" (leftover scraps)—but their risk was great as well, because they were defying a restriction imposed by the English government which forbade private coinage in the colonies. But the Pine Tree Shilling was so useful in the colonies that the English government chose to ignore its existence rather than attempt to suppress its circulation—which was an important early step toward American independence.
Robert worked from 1652 to 1683 with Hull in Boston, partnered as HULL & SANDERSON. This partnership also produced many fine pieces of silver, always identifiable with Hull and Sanderson's marks. They were New England's first master silversmiths, and created the earliest known piece of American silver: a dram cup made by the partners, now in the Yale University Art Gallery. (In 2001, their work earned the record bid for American silver made circa 1660—$775,750.) On October 1, 1683, John Hull died. It isn't known whether Sanderson continued to work at the mint after Hull's death, or if he acquired any of the minting equipment. But Sanderson continued to work as a silversmith, although since all of the coins were marked "1652," it's impossible to know if he kept minting them.
As Robert's fame and fortune grew, he apprenticed his sons, Joseph Sanderson (1653 in Boston), Benjamin Sanderson (about 1662 in Boston), and Robert Sanderson (about 1665 in Boston). It took seven years of apprenticeship to develop a silversmith in this country. A lad born in the Colonies would be apprenticed at fourteen to a master who had recently come from London. The boy stayed with his master until he was twenty-one and then he too became a master silversmith, if he had proved his skill. But the dynasty was not to be: Joseph and Benjamin died young. Robert Jr., was the only son to survive his father and carry on the business in Watertown. However, his mark and therefore his products, have not been identified. And Benjamin, apparently embittered toward his family, ignored them all in his will, dated Dec. 11, 1678, on file at Suffolk Probate. It names Robert Sr. as executor and the North Church and Mary Sinderlin, sister, as legatees, stating "the rest of my estate to be given to some honest Poor persons."

More About Robert Sanderson, Sr. and Mary:
Marriage: Bef. 1641

Children of Robert Sanderson, Sr. and Mary are:
  1. +William Sanderson, Sr., b. Bet. 1641 - 1643, Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire475, d. Aft. 1680.
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