SANDYS, Samuel (1695-1770), of Ombersley, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. 10 Aug. 1695, 1st s. of Edwin Sandys, M.P. Worcs. 1695-8, by Alice, da. of Sir James Rushout, 1st Bt., M.P., of Northwick Park, Worcs., sis. of Sir John Rushout, 4th Bt.. educ. New Coll. Oxf. 1711. m. 9 June 1725, Letitia, da. and eventually coh. of Sir Thomas Tipping, 1st Bt., M.P. of Wheatfield, Oxon., 7s. 3da. suc. fa. 1699 and gd.-fa. to family estates 1701; cr. Lord Sandys 20 Dec. 1743.
Chancellor of the Exchequer in Feb. 1742-Dec. 1743; P.C. 16 Feb. 1742; cofferer of the Household Dec. 1743-Dec. 1744; c.j. in eyre south of Trent, Dec. 1755-Dec. 1756, north of Trent 13 Feb. 1759-Mar. 1761; Speaker of the House of Lords Nov. 1756-July 1757; first ld. of Trade 21 Mar. 1761-Feb. 1763.
‘A tall thin young gentleman’, of an old Worcestershire family, Sandys was returned in 1718 at the age of 22 as a Whig for Worcester, which he represented for 25 years. His only recorded vote in this Parliament was against the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts in 1719. By the opening of the next Parliament in 1722 he was among the leading ministerial supporters in the Commons who were invited to private meetings at Walpole’s house to hear the King’s speech and to discuss the business of the forthcoming session. In 1725 he followed Pulteney into opposition, speaking with him against the Government in a debate on supply, 4 Mar. His defection was attributed to his failure to obtain the post of secretary at war, for which he was said to have applied, presumably in 1724, when it was filled by Henry Pelham.1
During the next two Parliaments Sandys was second-in-command to Pulteney, the leader of the Whig opposition, whose other chief lieutenants were Sandys’s uncle, Sir John Rushout, and Phillips Gybbon. Speaking in most important debates, frequently introducing bills against place-men and pensioners, and distinguished for his knowledge of the journals of the House of Commons, he was put down for Speaker in the list of a new ministry drawn up by the opposition leaders during the excise bill crisis of 1733. When in 1737 Pulteney was toying with the idea of coming to terms with the Court, Sandys was understood to be ready ‘to act under the new scheme and to be a manager for the Court’, as Speaker. Though the negotiation came to nothing, it gave rise to a distrust of the Whig opposition leaders, reflected in the failure of the Tories to support Sandys’s motion for Walpole’s removal in 1741, and in the remark of their leader, Shippen, that ‘those men with long cravats’, meaning Sandys, Rushout, and Gybbon, who wore voluminous neck-cloths, ‘only desire places’. Nor were these suspicions confined to Tory circles. After the opposition successes at the general election of 1741, Chesterfield (Philip Dormer Stanhope) predicted that Pulteney would use them only ‘to get in with a few by negotiation and not by victory with numbers’, adding:
The interested Whigs, as Sandys, Rushout and Gybbon ... are as impatient to come into court as he can be; and, persuaded that he has opened that door a little, will hold fast by him to squeeze in with him, and think they can justify their conduct to the public by following their old leader, under the colours (though false ones) of Whiggism.2
After Walpole’s fall these suspicions were justified to the extent that Pulteney, while refusing office for himself, negotiated an agreement with the Court, without consulting the opposition parties, on terms providing for the continuation of the existing ministry, minus Walpole, subject to a comparatively few changes, including the appointment of Sandys to be chancellor of the Exchequer, with Rushout and Gybbon as lords of the Treasury. At a party meeting Sandys defended his conduct, taking the line that
the King had done him the honour to offer him that place; why should he not accept it? If he had not, another would; if nobody would, the King would be obliged to employ his old minister again, which he imagined gentlemen present would not wish to see; and protested against screening [Walpole].
On being told some days later that ‘the nation would expect some popular bills, or it would be said all the turn given to affairs was only to get places’,
he said that all men knew that parties attempted many things of this kind in opposition which they never meant to carry, but it was necessary to amuse the people. But that these [popular bills] in general he should oppose and so must every minister, and that as Sir Robert used to say, they were but the flurries of a day.
In March he introduced a place bill, which was the only popular measure to be passed by the Lords. On 23 Mar. he and Pulteney spoke in favour of the appointment of a secret committee to inquire into Walpole’s Administration, Sandys declaring that ‘he was always for inquiries into ministers’ conduct, and should expect, if in his station he did anything amiss, to be called to account for it’. As a result, the 1st Lord Egmont wrote, ‘the Country party entertain a more favourable opinion of Mr. Pulteney and Mr. Sandys’. But they soon effaced this impression by voting against motions for repealing the Septennial Act and for protesting against the rejection by the Lords of a bill indemnifying witnesses against Walpole. Sandys and Rushout also spoke against taking action against John Scrope, the secretary of the Treasury, for refusing to give information to the secret committee on Walpole about the disposal of secret service money.3
At the opening of the next session, Sandys completed his political volte-face by voting against a revival of the secret committee, telling ‘his friends at a meeting the night before at his house that this motion ... must be opposed, for otherwise the King would dismiss the ministry’. ‘The whole debate ran,’ Horace Walpole reported to Mann, 2 Dec. 1742, ‘not upon Robert Earl of Orford but Robert Earl of Sandys. He is the constant butt of the party; indeed he bears it notably.’ A few days later, in defiance of the instructions of his constituents, he spoke against a new place bill, causing Egmont to observe: ‘so it seems the new ministry are above regarding the resentment of their old friends and the clamours of the people’.4
At the Treasury board Sandys and his friends combined to outvote the first lord, Wilmington (Spencer Compton), on whose death in 1743 his successor, Henry Pelham, in order to avoid being placed in a similar disagreeable position, decided to transfer Sandys and Rushout to other posts. ‘They press’, he wrote, ‘for the two best’, Sandys for the pay office, failing which he ‘insisted on being a peer and cofferer’, while Rushout became treasurer of the navy. ‘Zounds’ exclaimed an old opposition hand, Walter Plumer. ‘Mr. Pulteney took those old dishclouts to wipe out the Treasury, and now they are going to lace them and lay them up’.5 A year later Sandys, Rushout, and Gybbon were all turned out to make room for the leaders of the Opposition. Never again playing a significant part in politics, though twice resurrected by Newcastle and Bute for brief spells of minor office, Sandys died, 21 Apr. 1770, of injuries received from the overturning of his chaise on Highgate Hill.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 83, 245; Knatchbull Diary, 115.
- 2. Corresp. H. Walpole (Yale ed.), xvii. 249-50 n. 5; Hervey, Mems. 170; HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 366; Coxe, Walpole, i. 672; iii. 580.
- 3. Walpole to Mann, 18 Feb., 26 May, 24 June 1742; HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 256, 263; Owen, Pelhams, 110; A. S. Foord, His Majesty’s Opposition, 1714-1830, p. 144.
- 4. HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 268.
- 5. Pelham to Devonshire, 1 Dec. 1743, Devonshire mss; Walpole to Mann, 30 Nov. 1743.