About Henry Sandys, MP
Family and Education
- b. c.1607, 1st son of Sir Edwin Sandys* of Northbourne and his 4th wife Katherine, daughter of Sir Richard Bulkeley* of Anglesey.
- educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1621, aged 14, BA 1624; G. Inn 1627.
- m. Margaret, daughter of Sir William Hammond of St. Albans, Nonington, Kent, 1 son d.v.p.
- Succeeded father 1629;
- admon. 28 July 1640.
- Member, Virginia Company 1623-4,
- Member, Somers Island Companhy 1629-d.
- Commissioner of sewers, Kent 1639-d.
Sandys was still a minor, barely out of university, when he was elected to Parliament at Mitchell in 1625 after failing to secure a seat at Sandwich, the borough closest to Northbourne. On 8 Apr. the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, the duke of Buckingham, wrote on his behalf to the electors of Sandwich at the behest of Sandys’s father, Sir Edwin, who was then one of the duke’s clients.
However, although Sir Edwin had himself sat for Sandwich in 1621, Buckingham by custom exercised patronage over only one of the borough’s seats, which he had already filled. This may explain why Sandys did not await the outcome of the Sandwich election on 5 May before seeking an alternative seat at Mitchell, where he was returned on 25 April. As that borough’s other MP, Sir John Smythe II, had been elected five days earlier, it seems that a place was kept open for Sandys, perhaps at the duke’s request. Buckingham is thought to have intervened in several Cornish elections in 1625, although firm evidence is lacking at Mitchell itself.
In view of his extreme youthfulness, it is scarcely surprising that Sandys does not feature in the records of the 1625 Parliament. Although he set out for the Oxford sitting, he turned back after hearing a false report of its adjournment. He seems never to have stood for election again.
The course of Sandys’s adult life was largely dictated by his disastrous inheritance. Although Sir Edwin provided his heir with shares in the Virginia Company, he did so only shortly before its collapse. Sandys was also left stock in the Somers Island Company, but any profits were more than offset by his father’s debts, which by 1629 ran to many thousands of pounds. Sir Edwin specified in his will that the bulk of the profits from his estate should be used to pay off his debts until 1633.
However, this forced Sandys to borrow to survive, placing an additional drain on the estate’s resources. When he finally gained full control over his inheritance, following his mother’s death in 1634, many of Sir Edwin’s debts remained unsettled. Sandys consequently invoked a clause in his father’s will which permitted him to delay the release of minor portions of the estate to his younger brothers and sisters. This decision precipitated a family rift, and in 1638 his brother Edwin resorted to litigation. However, as Sir Edwin’s debts still stood at £1,800, Chancery largely upheld the existing arrangements.
When he drew up his own will in 1637 Sandys, like his father, made provision for his executors to retain certain profits while his debts were cleared. He evidently did not trust Edwin, the next male heir, to abide by his wishes, for the executorship went to a younger brother, Richard, while Northbourne and other major properties were left to Sandys’s widow for life rather than directly to Edwin, in partial contravention of Sir Edwin’s will.
By the time he died in London in July 1640, Sandys owed his creditors more than £8,000, over and above the debts inherited from his father. More than half of this amount consisted of bonds incurred through defaulting on loans, but Sandys had also failed to meet routine household expenses including an apothecary’s bill presented shortly before his death. Edwin subsequently went to law again to defend his interests, but he also took matters into his own hands. In a manner foreshadowing his raids on Kent’s royalists at the start of the Civil War, he descended on Northbourne in the autumn of 1640 with an armed gang, and Richard found himself evicted at gunpoint. Despite never regaining possession of Northbourne, Richard claimed to have settled Sandys’s debts by 1647, though it is unclear how many of his legacies, such as the £40 left for ‘beautifying’ Northbourne church, were finally paid. No other member of this branch of the Sandys family subsequently sat in Parliament.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- PROB 11/183, f. 347.
- 1.Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 47, 148; Al Ox.; GI Admiss.
- 2. PROB 11/156, f. 199.
- 3. PROB 11/183, f. 348.
- 4.Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 66; PROB 11/156, f. 198; 11/183, f. 347v.
- 5. C181/5, f. 199.
- 6. Add. 37819, f. 11v. Buckingham’s letter does not specify his candidate’s first name, but given Sandys’s extreme youth it can scarcely have been his yr. bro. Edwin, as Gruenfelder claims: J.K. Gruenfelder, ‘Lord Wardens and Elections’, JBS, xvi. 23.
- 7. Gruenfelder, JBS, xvi. 11, 15.
- 8. C219/39/43, 65; J.K. Gruenfelder, Influence in Early Stuart Elections, 147. Procs. 1625, p. 693 states incorrectly that Buckingham’s letter was sent to the electors of Mitchell. The ms does not specify the addressees, but the identification with Sandwich is clear from internal evidence.
- 9. Magdalene Coll. Camb. Ferrar pprs. Sir Edwin Sandys to Nicholas Ferrar, 23 Dec. 1625.
- 10. PROB 11/156, ff. 196-8v.
- 11. C2/Chas.I/S125/29; PROB 11/183, f. 347v.
- 12. PROB 11/156, f. 197v; C2/Chas.I/S125/29; 2/Chas.I/S35/56.
- 13. PROB 11/183, ff. 347-8; C2/Chas.I/S64/28.
- 14. C2/Chas.I/S35/56; S8/27; 2/Chas.I/S42/48; 2/Chas.I/S68/49; H.F. Abell, Kent and Gt. Civil War, 69-87; PROB 11/183, f. 347.