SANDYS, Sir John (d.1395), of East Cholderton Sherborne 'Coudray', Hants.
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Family and Education
m. c. Nov. 1375, Joan (c.1351-1415), da. of Agnes (née Fifhide), and cousin and h. of Sir William Fifhide† of Sherborne ‘Coudray’, wid. of Giles Norman (d.1361), of Tidworth and Peter Bridges† (d.1375), of Andover, Hants, 2s. inc. Sir Walter*. Kntd. c.1380.1
Commr. of array, Hants July 1377, Feb. 1379, Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392; to put down rebellions, Hants, Wilts. June, July 1381, Hants Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of inquiry May 1384 (ownership of land); to prepare the defences of Southampton June, Aug. 1386; of arrest, Hants, Wilts., Surr., Berks. June 1387, Jan. 1389; to determine appeals in the admiral’s ct. Oct. 1391, May 1392, in the constable’s ct. June 1395.
Coroner, Hants from June 1378.2
Tax assessor, Hants May 1379.
Sheriff, Hants 24 Nov. 1382-1 Nov. 1383, 11 Nov. 1394-d.
J.p. Hants 12 Jan. 1384-d., Wilts. 4 July 1391-4.
Dep. constable of Southampton castle by June 1386.
Dep. marshal, ct. of chivalry c. Aug.-Oct. 1394.3
Sandys was not a native of Hampshire. He probably came from Cheshire and is first recorded as in the service of the Black Prince, who was earl of Chester. On 27 Jan. 1367, before Prince Edward sailed from Gascony to Spain, he granted him a substantial annuity of £50 for life from the issues of the earldom. (This was to be confirmed by Richard II and subsequently charged on the exchequer at Carnarvon.) Sandys probably fought in the battle of Najera, thereafter remaining for some time in the prince’s company in Spain and France. He next appears in England in November 1375, when charged with the abduction of the recently widowed Joan Bridges from Romsey abbey, where she had been staying. His arrest was ordered; inquiries were made regarding the goods in his possession (which, when brought to London in the following January, were found to be worth over £120 and to have belonged to Joan’s previous husband); and another of the prince’s esquires was sent to Chester to bring the lady back to London for examination by the King’s Council. It was then discovered, however, that Sandys had already married her, and on 8 Apr. 1376 he secured a royal pardon for all homicides, rapes and felonies of which he stood indicted. He subsequently acknowledged that he owed the King a fine of £1,000, but this sum was never paid, for it was assigned to the prince, who before his death expressed a wish for it to be pardoned in full. It was through this opportunistic marriage that Sandys became a landowner of substance in Hampshire.4
Despite the death of his patron, the Black Prince, Sandys’s military service was not yet over. In the autumn of 1377 he put to sea with a retinue of 40 men-at-arms and 40 archers in the company of the prince’s youngest brother, Thomas of Woodstock, sailing from Bristol on 23 Oct., and disembarking at Southampton on 25 Jan. following, after a successful campaign against the Castilian fleet. Then, in August 1379, he and Richard Craddock, a royal serjeant-at-arms, entered into contracts to take a combined body of 98 men-at-arms and 100 archers to Aquitaine to reinforce the army of the King’s lieutenant there, John, Lord Neville. Having landed at Bordeaux on 1 Nov., they served until May 1380 when they indented for a further year’s duty, albeit with a smaller force. In the course of his sojourn in Aquitaine Sandys was knighted. He returned to England in time to take an active part in the crushing of the Peasants’ Revolt in Hampshire and Wiltshire, and to be elected to the Parliament of 1381-2, in the course of which, on Feb. he and his fellow Member, Sir Thomas Worting*, in association with John, Lord Montagu, the steward of the Household, delivered a schedule containing the names of such of the rebels as they considered beyond pardon. Sandys’s acquaintances at this time included John, Lord Devereux, Sir John Roches* and Sir Edward Dallingridge*, for all of whom he provided securities at the Exchequer on occasion. More important, before June he had come to the notice of the King’s half-brother, Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, who appointed him as his deputy in the constableship of Southampton castle. It was Sandys who the same summer was charged by the Council with the task of preparing the fortifications of the castle against enemy attack, and who then took command of a garrison some strong.5
The estates which Sandys held jure uxoris included his wife’s dower from her first marriage (to Giles Norman), comprising the manors of East Cholderton, ‘Norman’s Court’ in Upper Clatford, West Tytherley and Shirley (Hampshire) and Cowsfield in Wiltshire, along with property in Southampton and a forestership in Buckholt forest. As her dower from her second husband, Joan held property in Andover. But she was also an heiress in her own right, for her cousin, Sir William Fifhide, had no children. Sandys became acquainted with Fifhide in the early 1380s, and in 1386 he acted as his attorney in connexion with the presentation of an incumbent to the chantry at Sherborne ‘Coudray’ (afterwards known as ‘The Vyne’). When Fifhide died, in the following year, Sandys’s wife inherited the manors of Kingston by Shoreham, Shermanbury and Berkham in Fletching, Sussex, and four more, as well as Sherborne ‘Coudray’, in Hampshire. Another claimant to these estates, in particular to those in Sussex, was Sir John Lilborne*, but in he and Sandys agreed to abide by the arbitration of the chancellor, Archbishop Arundel, and subsequently Lilborne made a full quitclaim in return for a down payment of marks. In addition to these holdings Sandys acquired the manor of Knights Enham in Hampshire from John, Lord Lovell, in and property in London; and he and his wife also had a reversionary interest in sizeable properties in Southampton. According to the assessments of his estates (by then in the possession of his widow and elder son) were worth about £180 a year, and this was probably an undervaluation. Bearing in mind that he continued to receive his annuity of £50, Sandys must have been one of the wealthiest men living in Hampshire. This position is reflected not only in his parliamentary service, but also in his close dealings with Bishop Wykeham of Winchester. In 1385 he obtained from Wykeham a permit of non-residence for the rector of Broughton and a preacher’s licence for his own chaplain, and he is known to have sometimes dined with the bishop’s household. Furthermore, his son and heir, Walter, took as his wife one of Wykeham’s kinswomen.6
In November 1391 and again in June 1392 Sandys obtained royal letters patent exempting him from many administrative duties, but he nevertheless agreed to serve, albeit only for a short while, as lieutenant to the Earl Marshal, Thomas Mowbray, and he was also prepared to take on the shrievalty for a second time. Indeed, he was in office as sheriff when he died, in June or July 1395. His executors were his sons, Walter and Thomas, and his widow. The last outlived him by 20 years, after taking as her fourth husband the chief steward of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Thomas Skelton*.