Facts and Events
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.