Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sandys, William (d.1540)

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SANDYS, WILLIAM, Baron Sandys of ‘The Vyne’ (d. 1540), was son of Sir William Sandys of The Vyne, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Cheney of Sherland in the Isle of Sheppey. His father, who recovered The Vyne on the death of Bernard Brocas in 1488, died in 1497 (his will is printed in Testamenta Vetusta, p. 422). We may conclude that it was he, and not his father, who took part in the ceremony attending the conclusion of peace with France in 1492 (Letters and Papers, Richard III and Henry VII, ii. 291), assisted at the knighting of Prince Henry in 1494 (ib. i. 390, 404), and was prominent at the reception of Catherine of Arragon in 1501 (ib. i. 407, ii. 104). Nevertheless he is called a young man in 1521.

Of Henry VIII he was a great favourite. He was a knight of the body in 1509, and Henry not only remitted debts which Sandys owed to the crown, but made him many valuable grants. Henry visited him at The Vyne in 1510, and the same year he was made constable of Southampton, the grant being renewed in 1512. He took part in the unfortunate expedition to Guienne in 1512 as treasurer to the Marquis of Dorset, and he had charge of the ordnance at Fontarabia. A curious letter from William Knight to Wolsey on 4 Oct. 1512 tells how Sandys opposed Knight's being sent back to England, and charged Wolsey with being the cause of the failure of the expedition. Henry, however, evidently thought well of Sandys, who received the keepership of Crokeham Manor in 1513, and was given an important position in the army in 1513 (Chronicle of Calais, p. 11).

In 1514 he was once more in France, landing at Calais on 19 May with a hundred men (ib. p. 15). He seems to have been made treasurer of Calais on 28 July 1517. From this time he, in consequence, was constantly absent from the court, and wrote many letters from Calais. On 16 May 1518 he was made K.G. He took a leading part, Shakespeare implies rather an unwilling part, in the preparations for (ib. p. 18), and in the festivities at (ib. p. 21), the Field of the Cloth of Gold. He went on the expedition of 1522, and on 27 April 1523 he was created Baron Sandys by patent. In 1523 he was sent home to give an account of the sufferings of the soldiers. In 1524 he took part with Fox in the foundation of the Guild of the Holy Ghost at Basingstoke.

On 15 April 1526 the Earl of Worcester died, and Sandys, who had the reversion of his office, became lord chamberlain. He now resigned his treasurership of Calais, and was made captain of Guisnes, which office he could serve largely by deputy. From this time he took part in all the great ceremonials of the court. He was with Wolsey in France in 1527, and was later one of those who wished for his impeachment. In August 1531 Henry again visited The Vyne. He was present at the coronation of Anne Boleyn, and she and Henry on 15 Oct. 1535 came to see him at The Vyne. But when the time came, he conducted Anne from Greenwich to the Tower, and took part in her trial. He was present at the baptism of Prince Edward on 15 Oct. 1537. Sandys went with the tide in religious matters, though there are not wanting signs that he was of the old way of thinking. He entered into dangerous communications with Chapuys early in 1535 (Letters and Papers Henry VIII, viii. 48, 121, 272, but cf. p. 327), and his wife tried to help William More, the prior of Worcester. In later years he retired from the court. But Sandys was not a great politician, and the pilgrimage of grace, against which he took active part, may have frightened him, or he may have been quieted by the lease of Mottisfont, which he secured in 1536. He died at Calais on 4 Dec. 1540. He was buried in the chapel of the Holy Ghost at Basingstoke, under a tomb which he had ordered to be made in the Low Countries in 1536. He married Margery, daughter of John Bray, and niece of Sir Reginald Bray. She brought and inherited a good deal of property, and he was able to greatly improve The Vyne, being possibly assisted architecturally by Sir Reginald Bray. By her he had Thomas, who succeeded as second baron; John, deputy at Guisnes; Reginald, whom his father describes as ‘my unthrifty son Reynold Sandys, the priest’ (ib. vi. 1307, 1390; cf. vii. 49); and several daughters.

[Challoner Chute's History of The Vyne; Burrows's Hist. of the Family of Brocas; Burke's Extinct and Dormant Peerage; Friedmann's Anne Boleyn, ii. 58, &c.; Letters and Papers Henry VIII (many references); Brewer's Henry VIII, ii. 2; Froude's Hist. of Engl. ii. 506; State Papers, Henry VIII, i. 20, &c., vi. 170, 598, vii. 11, viii. 357, &c.; Wriothesley's Chron. i. 45; Strype's Annals, iii. ii. 65, Mem. i., i. 79, ii. i. 8, iii. i. 494.]

W. A. J. A.