SANFORD, John (1640-1711), of Basinghall Street, London, and Nynehead Court, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1685 - 1687
1689 - 1690
25 Sept. 1690 - 1698

Family and Education

bap. 2 Jan. 1640, 2nd s. of Henry Sanford (d. 1645) of Nynehead Court by Mary, da. of Henry Ayshford of Ayshford, Burlescombe, Devon.  m. by 1678, Elizabeth, da. of Lucy Knightly, merchant, of Hackney, Mdx., and Fawsley, Northants., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da.  suc. bro. 1663.1

Offices Held

Treasurer, Hamburg Co. by 1676; commr. preventing export of wool 1689–92; asst. Hollow Sword Blade Co. 1691.2

Commr. rebels’ estates, Som. 1685; remembrancer, London by 1697.3


A wealthy Hamburg merchant, who had inherited his family’s modest estate at Nynehead, Somerset, Sanford had been returned as a Tory for the nearby borough of Taunton in 1685 and 1689. He had close ties among the west-country Tories and in 1690 successfully promoted a marriage between his cousin Penelope, daughter of Sir William Haslewood, and Henry Portman* (formerly Seymour), brother of the Tory leader Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.* He did not stand at Taunton in the 1690 election, but came in later in the year at a by-election for Minehead, on the interest of Francis Luttrell*. In December Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classed him as a Court supporter, while in a list by Robert Harley* of April 1691, he appears as a supporter of the Country party. His activity in the House usually reflected his commercial interests. In his first recorded speech on 16 Jan. 1692 he and others tried to block discussion on a bill for suppressing hawkers and pedlars by forcing an adjournment. On 17 Feb. 1693 he was evidently acting as a spokesman for the Hamburg Company, of which he was a member, when opposing the bill to prevent the export of wool. He asserted that it would ‘give our woollen trade to foreigners. Then it will ruin and destroy your trade at last, though at present it seems to be greater and it sets aside the Hamburg Company, who first brought this trade into the nation, and have hitherto preserved it, and will, if this bill do not pass.’ In November, in the next session, he played a leading part in a renewed attempt to legislate against hawkers and pedlars, although after reporting its committee stage on 26 Feb. 1694, business elsewhere forced him to obtain leave of absence (28 Mar.) before it could be sent to the Lords, and as a result the bill fell. He had, however, been successful in December with a bill for the construction of a bridge over the River Axe, which was duly enacted. On 14 Feb. 1694 he was teller against a motion declaring illegal and arbitrary the methods used by the company of weavers in Norwich to search out and seize yarn belonging to local woolcombers. Early in 1695 he was among the ‘friends’ whom Henry Guy* listed in anticipation of a parliamentary attack on himself for corruption.4

Returned again for Minehead in 1695, Sanford continued to lobby for the interests of the wool trade in the West country, obtaining leave on 6 Dec. to bring in a bill to encourage woollen manufacture. Although in the previous Parliament he appears usually to have supported the Court, he went into opposition as the administration became increasingly dominated by Whigs. In January 1696 he was forecast as likely to oppose the government over the proposed council of trade, refused to sign the Association in February, voted against the government on fixing the price of guineas at 22s. in March and on 25 Nov. voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. On 4 Dec. he took the lead in initiating another bill to encourage woollen manufacture, the measure having been defeated the previous session, but this attempt, too, failed to complete its course. He was defeated at Minehead in 1698, when the Luttrells transferred their interest to a kinsman by marriage, Jacob Bankes*. In a list drawn up in about September 1698, he was classed retrospectively as a member of the Country party. He stood unsuccessfully for Honiton in January 1701. His business affairs had sunk him deeply in debt: whereas in 1686 his debts to other cloth merchants ran to £4,520, they had increased to some £12,000 by the time he drafted his will in 1704. He died in 1711.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Burke, LG (1952); E. Dwelly, Par. Recs. ii. 145, 147; Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 109; info. from Priscilla Flower-Smith; Som. Wills, vi. 57.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1676–7, p. 137; 1690–1, pp. 506, 522.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. xii. 100; xiii. 436.
  • 4. Luttrell Diary, 133, 428; Add. 29564, ff. 322, 411; 26565, f. 256.
  • 5. Som. RO, Sanford mss DD/SF 457, 687, 1328 (ex inf. Bridget Clarke).