Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sanford, Joseph

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SANFORD or SANDFORD, JOSEPH (d. 1774), scholar and book collector, was son of George Sanford of Topsham, near Exeter. He matriculated from Exeter College, Oxford, on 6 April 1709, aged 17, and was a fellow commoner there until 22 Dec. 1712. On 21 Oct. 1712 he graduated B.A. (M.A. 16 June 1715, B.D. 9 Nov. 1726), and about 1715 he was elected to a fellowship at Balliol College.

Sanford did not take orders until the statutes of the college rendered it essential to his retention of his fellowship (cf. Gent. Mag. 1816, ii. 212). On 12 May 1722 he was instituted, on the nomination of his college, to the sinecure rectory of Duloe in Cornwall, and in 1739 he was appointed by the same body to the rectory of Huntspill in Somerset, holding both preferments until his death. He died senior fellow of Balliol College on 25 Sept. 1774, in his eighty-fourth year, having been a resident in the college for nearly sixty years, and was buried in the church of St. Mary Magdalen, Oxford, where a monument was erected to his memory.

Though his friends could never ‘prevail upon him to publish any specimens of his critical learning,’ and he left no writings behind him ‘but a few short manuscript notes on the margins of some printed books’ (Polwhele, History of Cornwall, v. 179), Sanford was well known for his erudition, his valuable library, and the singularity of his attire. He left to Exeter College books and manuscripts. The latter had previously belonged to Sir William Glynne, and are mostly historical or antiquarian (Coxe, Cat. of MS. in Oxford Colleges). To the Bodleian Library he gave in 1753 a copy of Archbishop Parker's rare ‘De Antiquitate Britannicæ Ecclesiæ,’ 1572 (Macray, Bodl. Libr. 2nd ed. p. 234). He was an intimate friend of Hearne. Sanford purchased in 1767 the very rare first edition of the Hebrew Bible, and gave much assistance to Dr. Kennicott in his great work on the Bible. It was the loan by him of a manuscript relating to Dorset that induced Hutchins to undertake the task of compiling a history of that county, and he is one of the two members of Balliol College to whom Richard Chandler expressed his obligations in the preface to his ‘Marmora Oxoniensia’ (1763).

[Boase's Exeter Coll. Commoners, p. 286; Gent. Mag. 1774 p. 447, 1816 ii. 212, 388, 488; Hutchins's Dorset, pref. to 1st ed.; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. iii. 705, iv. 574–5, and Lit. Anecdotes, iii. 684, vii. 719, viii. 230–60; Rel. Hearnianæ (1869 ed.), ii. 309, iii. 102.]

W. P. C.