SANFORD, Hugh (d.1607), of Wilton, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
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Family and Education

Offices Held

Servant of 2nd and 3rd Earls of Pembroke.


Sanford’s parentage has not been established; he cannot be fitted into the pedigrees of any of the known gentle families of that name. More puzzling, in view of his evident learning, is his absence from the records of both universities and of the inns of court. His career as tutor to William Herbert (3rd Earl of Pembroke 1601), presumably began before 1590, when William Herbert became ten years of age, and may have ceased by March 1593, when his pupil entered New College, Oxford. At this time Wilton House seemed ‘like a little University’, and among its ornaments was ‘the great Hugh Sanford, learned in all arts, sciences, knowledge humane and divine ... from which I never departed without some profit’. Sanford’s range of learning seems to have embraced prophecy. His prediction that his pupil would not live beyond the age of 50 was to be fulfilled when the 3rd Earl, after jokingly alluding to it on his 50th birthday, died the next day.3

Sanford was one of the witnesses to the will which the 2nd Earl made in January 1595. By it he received an annuity of £30 a year for life according, as the testator put it, ‘to my former grant to him thereof made’. Sanford served both earls in a confidential capacity: in 1599 he was an intermediary in the negotiation between the 2nd Earl and his son-in-law Sir Robert Sidney over the succession to the presidency of the marches of Wales, and in 1604 he was involved in a matrimonial discussion between Sidney and the 3rd Earl.4

It was to his two noble masters that Sanford owed his parliamentary career. He was returned for Ludlow at the general election of 1597 as part of a campaign by the 2nd Earl, as president of the council in the marches, to weaken the corporation of Ludlow. The return was investigated by the privileges committee of the House and a new election took place on 5 Dec. (several weeks after the beginning of the session) Sanford then being replaced by a Ludlow man. At the next two elections Sanford was returned for the Pembroke borough of Wilton, for which he was sitting at the time of his death, 21 May 1607. Sanford made a will, but it was nullified by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, and so not enrolled; its provisions are unknown. From the proceedings in that court it is clear that his mother Florence survived him, as did his brother John and his sister Margaret. His widow Elizabeth, against whom they contested the administration of his estate, married as her second husband William Sharpe of Fugglestone. Sanford’s property included lands in Glamorgan worth £16 6s.8d.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. T. Bindoff


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Clarendon, Hist. ed. Macray, i. 73; Wilts. N. and Q. vi. 441-2, 496.
  • 4. PCC 39 Woodhall; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 383, 424; iii. 127, 128-9; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 33.
  • 5. D’Ewes, 556, 593; PCC 65 Windebanck, 55 Capell; C142/310/65.