Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

Offices Held



b. 6 June 1567, s. and h. of Thomas Sandford of Askham, Westmld. by Anne, da. of Cuthbert Hutton of Hutton John, Cumb. m. Martha, da. of Sir John Widdrington of Widdrington, Northumb. by his 2nd w., 3s. 6da. suc. fa. 1574.

Thomas Sandford’s birth is recorded with special prominence in the parish register of Askham, where his family had been established from the fourteenth century. A minor at his father’s death, his wardship in 1581 was held by the Queen, but entries in the Askham register dated in the autumn of 1587 indicate that he had by then come of age. When his first child was christened, in October 1587, one of the godmothers, present by proxy, had been Lady Scrope, wife of the lord warden of the west march, and in November 1592 her son, the 9th Lord Scrope, was godfather by proxy at the christening of Sandford’s fifth child, Thomas, his heir presumptive. These links with the Scropes, whose official residence was in Carlisle, tip the balance in favour of his having been the 1597 MP for the city, though no positive identification has been made. This Thomas Sandford was a Catholic sympathizer who conformed sufficiently to attend church, though he refused to take communion. His wife was regularly presented as a recusant and some of his servants were similarly ‘obstinate’. He continued the enlarging and rebuilding of Askham Hall, one of the notable pele strongholds in the county. The work had been begun by his father and continued by his mother during his minority. On 10 Mar. 1589 he conveyed part of his property to John Middleton of Carlisle (possibly his stepfather by his mother’s remarriage) and Robert Widdrington, his wife’s brother, to the use of himself and his wife, and in April 1597 he mortgaged the manor of Askham and all lands and tenements formerly belonging to his father and grandfather to Ralph Assheton and John Townley of Lancashire for a maximum term of 80 years. He died 18 July 1609 and was succeeded by his last and ninth child, John.1


1st s. of Richard Sandford of Howgill, Westmld. by Anne, da. of John Warriner of Helsington, Westmld. educ. G. Inn 1586. prob. unm. Kntd. 1603.

This man, who died v.p. and s.p. was first cousin of his namesake of Askham. The theft of his ‘running mare’ and two other horses by border thieves was one reason for a retaliatory raid into Scotland reported by Scrope in July 1600. To the ensuing petition from the gentlemen of Cumberland and Westmorland to the Privy Council for soldiers to be placed on the border both Thomas Sandfords put their names. The signature of one of them, with the names of three other gentlemen, all probably commissioners of musters, occurs on an order to the alderman of Kendal in March 1601 requiring him to light the beacons, but only the three others signed the countermanding order which immediately followed.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: E.L.C.M.


  • 1. Nicolson and Burn, Hist. Cumb. and Westmld. i. 426; Hodgson, Northumb. ii(2), 236; C142/310/74; Askham Registers; Border Pprs. i. 64; Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxi. 195-8, 209-22; Cath. Rec. Soc. liii. 65, 359; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 354; 1598-1601, p. 362.
  • 2. C142/391/74; Shaw, Knights (where ‘of Westminster’ should read ‘of Westmorland’); Border Pprs. ii. 668, 671, 677-8, 761; HMC 10th Rep. IV, 307-8.