within ten days. Highly indignant, he determined not to stir till he was forced by law. He had intended to leave his books to the library of the archbishops; he now changed his mind. He was cited to appear before the barons of the exchequer on 12 June to answer a writ of intrusion. His attorney endeavoured to delay the case, but avoided any plea which would recognise the new sovereigns, and accordingly judgment was passed against him on 23 June. That evening he left Lambeth and went to a private house in the Temple. There he remained in retirement, still attended by his chaplains, and waited on by many friends, till 3 Aug. He made no complaint; and when Lord Aylesbury wept to see his state so changed, he said, ‘O my good lord, rather rejoice with me; for now I live again.’ On 5 Aug. he arrived at Fressingfield, his birthplace, where he had been building a small house for himself. His letters to Sir Henry North show him to have lived there quietly, busied with his books and papers and with the completion of his house, watching public affairs with a keen eye, but taking no part in any plots against the government. On 23 Dec., when accusations were very freely bandied about against him, he wrote: ‘I was never so much as out of this poor house, and the yards and avenues, since I came first directly from London into it; and I never suffered our vicar or any other, not even my chaplains when they were here, so much as to say grace when I eat; but I constantly officiate myself, “secundum usum Lambethanum,” which you know, and never give the Holy Sacrament but to those of my own persuasion and practice’ (Familiar Letters, 1757, p. 25). In May 1692 a forgery, perpetrated by Blackhead and Young, seemed likely to involve him, with Bishop Sprat of Rochester, in a charge of high treason; but it was soon disproved.
By this time he had determined to preserve the succession in the nonjuring body. On 9 Feb. 1691 he executed a deed delegating the exercise of his archiepiscopal authority to William Lloyd (1637–1710) [q. v.], the deprived bishop of Norwich (manuscript at Emmanuel College). He appears, too, to have joined in the preparation for the consecration of new nonjuring bishops, though the first consecration took place after his death. He continued to receive visits from his friends, to add to his collection of antiquarian records, and on occasion to confirm privately in his own chapel (Emmanuel College Mag. vol. i. No. 2, p. 44), and to minister to nonjurors. He devoted his last days to the preparation for the press of the ‘Memorials of Laud.’ On 25 Aug. 1693 he was attacked by fever; in November he died. He had lived, says Wharton, like a hermit, was much wasted, and wore a long beard. To the last he would communicate only with nonjurors, and in his last moments he prayed for King James, the queen, and prince. He was buried in Fressingfield churchyard on 27 Nov., where a tomb was erected, with an inscription by himself.
A number of portraits of Sancroft exist, among the most interesting being that by Bernard Lens [q. v.] at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Two drawings—one by David Loggan and the other in crayons by E. Lutterel—are in the National Portrait Gallery. There are engravings by Vandergucht the elder, R. White, and Sturt. Of his manuscript remains, a few letters, his deed of resignation, and a number of documents connected with his gifts, are at Emmanuel College. Further collections are at Lambeth and at the British Museum (Harl. MSS. 3783–5, 3786–98, &c.). But the largest proportion of manuscripts belonging to and written by him are in the Tanner MSS. at the Bodleian Library.
No character, at the stormy period during which he lived, was judged more differently by partisans. Burnet, who much disliked him, says that he was ‘a man of solemn deportment, had a sullen gravity in his looks, and was considerably learned … He was a dry, cold man, reserved and peevish, so that none loved him, and few esteemed him’ (History of his own Time, edit. 1753, ii. 145). Of his action at the time of the revolution Burnet adds that ‘he was a poor-spirited and fearful man, and acted a very mean part in all this great transaction’ (ib. iii. 283). Antony Wood at first calls him ‘a clownish, odd fellow’ (Life and Times, ed. Clark, ii. 400), but soon became intimate with him as an antiquary, and grew to love and respect him. As a man of learning his industry was prodigious; the mass of his correspondence in the Tanner MSS. is enormous. The opinions of Hearne (pref. to Otterbourne, p. 45) and Nelson (Life of Bull, 1713 edit. pp. 354–6) are very different from that of Burnet, and the charge of moroseness is fully refuted by the style of his familiar letters, which are pleasant, chatty, and jocose. He was munificent in charity, living himself always in the strictest simplicity. Needham, who lived with him from 1685 to 1691, says: ‘He was the most pious, humble, good Christian I ever knew in all my life. His hours for chapel were at six in the morning, twelve before dinner, three in the afternoon, and nine at night, at which time he was constantly present, and always dressed.