himself supreme political power; and to advise the king to follow the example of his uncle, and, instead of ‘trafficking in cattle and sheep,’ to increase his revenues by taking such ‘of the possessions’ of the monks—who ‘occupy a great part of his realm to the maintenance of their voluptie, and the continual decay of his estate and honour’—as ‘might best be spared’ (Instructions to Sadler, Sadler, State Papers, pp. 3–13). The young king seems to have been perfectly frank. He was sincerely desirous to be on friendly terms with his uncle of England; but he had no intention whatever of adopting his ecclesiastical policy.
Shortly after his return to England Sadler was appointed one of the king's two principal secretaries of state, the other being Thomas Wriothesley. He was knighted probably on the anniversary of the king's coronation, and on 14 May 1542 he was granted armorial bearings.
After the rout of Solway Moss, which was followed by the death of James V on 16 Dec. 1542, Sadler was sent by Henry to reside in Edinburgh, with a view to preventing the revival of the influence of Beaton by arranging for the marriage of the young Princess Mary of Scotland with Prince Edward of England. When the Scottish parliament agreed that a ‘noble English knight and lady’ should be established at the Scottish court—for the training of the young princess for her future position—Henry proposed that Sir Ralph Sadler and his lady should undertake this duty. To Sadler the proposal was probably the reverse of agreeable, and he represented to the king not only that a journey to Scotland would be dangerous to his wife in her then delicate condition, but that, not having ‘been brought up at court,’ she was unfitted for the duties with which it was proposed to honour her. Other arrangements were therefore made; but it was soon found impossible to carry them out. All along the Scots had been influenced more by considerations of expediency than by a sincere desire for an English alliance; and Sadler discovered that no absolute trust could be placed in any of the rival parties, who were only sincere in their desires for each other's downfall. ‘There never was (he lamented) so noble a prince's servant as I am so evil intreated as I am among these unreasonable people; nor do I think never man had to do with so rude, so inconsistent, and beastly a nation as this is’ (State Papers, Henry VIII, v. 355). Beaton's influence, which he endeavoured to overthrow, revived. The seizure of certain Scottish merchantmen and the confiscation of their cargoes by Henry, on the ground that they were carrying provisions to France, roused the slumbering antipathies of the nation, and compelled the governor to save himself by an alliance with the cardinal. The house of Sadler was surrounded by the populace of Edinburgh, and he was threatened with death in case the ships were not restored. While walking in his garden he narrowly escaped a musket-bullet; and, having prayed Henry either to recall him or permit him to retire to a stronghold of the Douglases, leave was granted him in November to go to Tantallon Castle, and in December he was escorted by Sir George Douglas, with four hundred horsemen, across the border. On the outbreak of hostilities he accompanied the Earl of Hertford in his devastating raid against Scotland, as treasurer of the navy; and he also accompanied the expedition to the borders in the following spring.
In accordance with the directions of Henry VIII, who died on 28 Jan. 1547, Sadler was appointed one of a council of twelve to assist the sixteen executors to whom was entrusted the government of the kingdom and the guardianship of the young king, Edward VI. Having been already intimately associated with Hertford, afterwards duke of Somerset, it was only natural that he should favour his claims to the protectorate of the realm; and he again accompanied him in his expedition against Scotland as high treasurer of the army. At the battle of Pinkie, 10 Sept. 1547, he displayed great gallantry in rallying the English cavalry after the first repulse by the Scottish spearmen, and he was made, on the field, one of three knight bannerets.
On the succession of Queen Mary Sadler retired to his country house at Standon, not intermeddling with state matters until her death; but though not a member of the privy council, he attended the meeting at Hatfield, 20 Nov. 1558, at which arrangements were made for Elizabeth's state entry, and issued the summons to the nobility and gentry to attend it. A keen protestant, like Elizabeth's minister, Cecil, and of similarly puritanic temper, he became one of Cecil's most trusted agents. With the Earl of Northumberland and Sir James Crofts, he was in August 1559 appointed a commissioner to settle the border disputes with Scotland; but the appointment of the commission was merely intended to veil purposes of higher moment, of which Sadler's fellow-commissioners knew nothing. Sadler was entrusted by Cecil with secret instructions to enter into communication with