Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sandeman, Robert (1718-1771)

SANDMAN, ROBERT (1718–1771), Scottish sectary, eldest son of David Sandeman, merchant and magistrate (1735–63) of Perth, was born at Perth in 1718. After being apprenticed at Perth as a linen-weaver, he studied a session or two at Edinburgh University. While hesitating between medicine and the church as his future profession, he came under the influence of John Glas [q. v.], whose religious views he adopted. Returning to Perth in 1736, he married in the following year Glas's daughter Katharine (d. 1746), and entered into partnership with his brother, William Sandeman, as a linen manufacturer. From this business he withdrew in 1744, on being appointed an elder in the Glassite communion. He exercised his ministry successively at Perth, Dundee, and Edinburgh, and became widely known by his ‘Letters’ (1757) in criticism of the ‘Dialogues between Theron and Aspasio’ by James Hervey (1714–1758) [q. v.] This publication led to a controversy with Samuel Pike [q. v.], who ultimately became his disciple. In 1760 Sandeman removed to London, where he gathered a congregation at Glovers' Hall, Beech Lane, Barbican. It was soon transferred to a building, formerly the Friends' meeting-house, in Bull and Mouth Street, St. Martin's-le-Grand. His writings and preaching attracted attention. Among those who went to hear him was William Romaine [q. v.]

On the urgent invitation of his followers in New England, Sandeman sailed from Glasgow for Boston on 10 Aug. 1764, with James Cargill and Andrew Olifant. The first church of his connexion was founded at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 4 May 1765. He succeeded in planting other churches in New England, but the success of his mission was hindered by his warmth in urging the duty of loyalty to the mother country at a critical time in American politics. In March 1770 he was brought to trial by the authorities of Connecticut. He died at Danbury, Connecticut, on 2 April 1771. His interment there was the signal for a hostile display of political feeling.

Sandeman added nothing to the principles of theology and church polity adopted by Glas; but his advocacy gave them vogue, and the religious community which is still called Glassite in Scotland is recognised as Sandemanian in England and America.

He published: 1. ‘A Letter to Mr. W. Wilson … concerning Ruling Elders,’ 1736, 16mo. 2. ‘Letters on Theron and Aspasio,’ 1757, 2 vols. 8vo (often reprinted); a contribution to the controversy excited by the well-known ‘Dialogues’ of James Hervey [q. v.] 3. ‘An Epistolary Correspondence between … Pike and … Sandeman,’ 1758, 8vo; in Welsh, 1765, 12mo. 4. ‘An Essay on Preaching,’ 1763, 12mo. 5. ‘Some Thoughts on Christianity,’ Boston, New England, 1764, 12mo. Posthumous were: 6. ‘The Honour of Marriage,’ 1777, 8vo; Edinburgh, 1800, 12mo. 7. ‘An Essay on the Song of Solomon,’ 1803, 12mo. 8. ‘Letters,’ Dundee, 1851, 8vo. 9. ‘Discourses on Passages of Scripture: with Essays and Letters … with a Biographical Sketch,’ Dundee, 1857, 8vo. In ‘Christian Songs,’ Perth, 1847, 8vo, are nineteen pieces of religious verse by Sandeman, of no poetical merit.

[Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1810, iii. 220, 274 sq. 364; Biography by D. M[itchelson] in Discourses, 1857 (portrait, wearing wig); Anderson's Scottish Nation, 1872, iii. 401; Thornton's Life of Sir Robert Sandeman, 1895, p. 2; authorities in art. on Glas.]

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