Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sandys, Samuel

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SANDYS, SAMUEL, first Baron Sandys of Ombersley (1695?–1770), born about 1695, was the elder son of Edwin Sandys, M.P. for Worcestershire, by his wife Alice, daughter of Sir James Rushout, bart., of Northwick in the parish of Blockley, Worcestershire. He was a grandson of Samuel Sandys of Ombersley in the same county, and a lineal descendant of Edwin Sandys, archbishop of York, who resided at Ombersley in Queen Elizabeth's reign. He matriculated at Oxford University from New College at the age of sixteen on 28 April 1711, but did not graduate. He subsequently went abroad, and at a by-election in March 1718 was returned to the House of Commons for the city of Worcester, which he continued to represent until his promotion to the upper house. On 16 Feb. 1730 Sandys moved for leave to bring in a bill to disable all persons from sitting in the House of Commons who had any pensions or offices held in trust for them from the crown (Parl. Hist. viii. 789). Though this measure, which was popularly known as the Pension Bill, passed through the commons, it was thrown out in the House of Lords. It was reintroduced by Sandys in several subsequent sessions, but it always met with the same fate at the hands of the peers. On the rejection of this bill by the House of Lords in the following session, Sandys unsuccessfully moved for the appointment of a committee to inquire whether any member of the existing House of Commons had, directly or indirectly, any pensions or offices under the crown (ib. viii. 857). On 26 Feb. 1733 he opposed Walpole's motion for taking half a million from the sinking fund (ib. viii. 1216–1218). He was a strenuous opponent also of the Excise Bill, and supported the petition of the city against it (Hervey, Memoirs of the Reign of George II, 1884, i. 197–9). On 13 Feb. 1734 he moved an address to the king on the removal of the Duke of Bolton and Lord Cobham from their regiments, but was easily defeated by the government (Parl. Hist. ix. 324–5). In the same month his bill for securing the freedom of parliament by limiting the number of civil and military officers in the house, popularly known as the Place Bill, was thrown out by 230 votes against 191 (ib. ix. 366, 367, 370–4, 392). On 2 Feb. 1736 Sandys called attention to the increase of the national debt, and protested against ‘loading posterity with new debts in order to give a little ease to the present generation’ (ib. ix. 1016–18). On 6 Feb. 1739 his two motions for the production of further papers relating to the convention with Spain were defeated by majorities of seventy and eighty votes respectively (ib. x. 962–5, 975, 999–1001). In the same month he unsuccessfully urged that the petitioners against the convention should be heard by their counsel (ib. x. 1082–90). While supporting Pulteney's bill for the encouragement of seamen on 16 Nov. 1739, Sandys is said to have declared that ‘of late years parliaments have shown a much greater respect to the ministers of the crown than was usual in former ages, and I am under some apprehensions that, by continuing to show the same respect for a few years longer, we shall at last lose all that respect which the people of this kingdom ought to have for their parliaments’ (ib. xi. 102–10). On 29 Jan. 1740 he again attempted to introduce his Place Bill, but was defeated by 222 votes to 206 (ib. xi. 329–31, 380). Sandys continued to keep up a harassing attack upon the government, and ultimately, on 13 Feb. 1741, moved an address to the king for the removal of Walpole (ib. xi. 1224–42, 1303–26). He was, however, defeated by 290 votes against 106, an unusual majority, brought about by the schism between the tories and the opposition whigs, and the secession of Shippen. On 9 April 1741 Sandys protested against the foreign policy of the government, and reminded the members that their constituents owed ‘their allegiance to the king of Great Britain, and not to the elector of Hanover’ (ib. xii. 164).

On Walpole's downfall, Sandys, through Pulteney's influence, was appointed chancellor of the exchequer in the Wilmington administration, and was sworn a member of the privy council (16 Feb. 1742). On 23 March he supported Lord Limerick's motion for the appointment of a secret committee to inquire into Lord Orford's conduct, and a few days afterwards was appointed a member of the committee, receiving only two votes less than Sir John St. Aubyn, who headed the list with 518 votes (Parl. Hist. xii. 586, 588). On 31 March he opposed the repeal of the Septennial Bill (ib. xii. 590). Though disapproving of the conduct of the peers in rejecting the Indemnification Bill, Sandys refused to support Lord Strange's motion of censure against the House of Lords (ib. xii. 718–21). On 3 Dec. 1742 Sandys opposed the introduction of the Place Bill, which he had so often brought forward himself, and made a lame attempt to defend his inconsistent conduct (ib. xii. 896–9). A few days later he had also to defend the policy of continuing the British troops in Flanders (ib. xii. 915–22). In this session Sandys brought in a bill repealing the ‘Gin Act’ of 1736 [see Jekyll, Sir Joseph], and substituting a lower rate of duty on all spirits (16 Geo. II, c. 8). During the debate on the address on 1 Dec. 1743 he strenuously vindicated the government, and accused Pitt of using unparliamentary language against Carteret, whose ‘integrity and love to his country were equal to his abilities, which were acknowledged by the whole world’ (ib. xiii. 137 n.)

Sandys was succeeded as chancellor of the exchequer by Henry Pelham, already first lord of the treasury, on 12 Dec. 1743. He was created Lord Sandys, baron of Ombersley in the county of Worcester, on 20 Dec. 1743, and took his seat in the House of Lords two days afterwards (Journ. of House of Lords, xxvi. 285). At the same time he was appointed cofferer of the household, but was removed from that post in December 1744, on the formation of the Broad-bottom administration. From 1747 to 1755 he held the office of treasurer of the chamber. In January 1756 he was made warden and chief justice in eyre of the king's forests south of the Trent, but resigned on being appointed speaker of the House of Lords by a commission dated 13 Nov. 1756 (ib. xxix. 4). On 13 Feb. 1759 he became warden and chief-justice in eyre of the king's forests south of the Trent, a post which he resigned on his appointment as first lord of trade and plantations on 21 March 1761. In the spring of 1763 he was removed from this post, to make room for Charles Townshend (Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of George III, 1894, i. 193), and never again held office. Sandys appears to have taken but little part in the debates of the House of Lords (see Parl. Hist. xiii. 910, 954, xiv. 271, 280 n., 775, xv. 84 n., 752, 1346 n.). He died on 21 April 1770, from the effects of the injuries which he had received by being overturned in his carriage while coming down Highgate Hill, and was buried at Ombersley.

Sandys rose into prominence by his untiring opposition to Sir Robert Walpole, and his political importance quickly sank into insignificance after that minister's downfall. He was probably the ‘person’ described by Lord Chesterfield in the first number of ‘Old England, or the Constitutional Journal,’ as being ‘without any merit but the lowest species of prostitution, enjoying a considerable post, got by betraying his own party, without having abilities to be of use to any other. One who had that plodding, mechanical turn which, with an opinion of his steadiness, was of service to the opposition, but can be of none to the ministry; one whose talents were so low that nothing but servile application could preserve him from universal contempt, and who, if he had persevered all his life in the interests of his country, might have had a chance of being remembered hereafter as a useful man’ (Letters and Works of the Earl of Chesterfield, 1845–53, v. 233–4). Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams speaks of his abilities with the greatest contempt, and calls him the ‘motion-maker’ (Works, 1822, iii. 34 et passim)—a nickname which is repeated by Smollett in his ‘History of England’ (1805, iii. 16). Horace Walpole, who naturally bore no love to his father's persecutor, declared that Sandys ‘never laughed but once, and that was when his best friend broke his thigh’ (Letters, 1857–9, i. 104).

Sandys married, in 1724, Letitia, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Tipping, bart., of Wheatfield, Oxfordshire, by whom he had seven sons and three daughters. He was succeeded in the barony by his eldest son, Edwin, who died without issue on 28 Feb. 1797, when the title became extinct, and the estates devolved upon the granddaughter of the first baron, Mary, marchioness of Downshire, who was created Baroness Sandys of Ombersley on 19 June 1802.

Sandys figures conspicuously in ‘The Motion’ and other caricatures published at the time of Walpole's downfall (see Cat. of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, Division i. vol. iii. pt. i. pp. 368–91, 418–19, 422–3).

[Besides the authorities quoted in the text, the following works, among others, have been consulted: Coxe's Memoirs of Sir R. Walpole, 1798; Coxe's Memoirs of the Pelham Administration, 1829; Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George II, 1847, i. 347, ii. 274; Georgian Era, 1832, i. 539; Gent. Mag. 1770 p. 191, 1797 i. 255; Journ. House of Lords, lxviii. 826; Nash's Worcestershire, 1781–99, ii. 220, 223; Collins's Peerage of England, 1812, ix. 226–9; Burke's Peerage, &c. 1894, p. 1238; Burke's Extinct Peerage, 1883, p. 472; Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714, iv. 1310; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, ii. 46, 58, 68, 81, 93; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1890; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. viii. 507.]

G. F. R. B.