Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sanderson, William

SANDERSON, Sir WILLIAM (1586?–1676), historian, born about 1586, is said to have been the son of Nicholas Sanderson, first viscount Castleton in the peerage of Ireland (Chester, Westminster Registers, p. 189); but this seems to be an error, as the Sir William Sanderson who was son of Viscount Castleton died in 1648 (Cal. of Compounders, p. 2790). Sanderson was secretary to Henry Rich, earl of Holland [q. v.], when Holland was chancellor of the university of Cambridge (Wood, Athenæ, iii. 565; Autobiography of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, ii. 68). James Howell describes him as being from his youth bred up at court, and ‘employed in many negotiations of good consequence both at home and abroad’ (‘Address’ prefixed to Sanderson's Life of Charles I). He suffered in the cause of Charles I, and was made a gentleman of the privy chamber by Charles II and knighted. Holland had made him a grant of the Paddock Walk, Windsor Park, which was confirmed at the Restoration (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1 p. 242, 1671 pp. 348, 500). On 7 June 1671 a pension of 200l. per annum was granted to Sanderson and his wife jointly (ib. 1671, p. 304). He died 15 July 1676, aged ninety, according to his epitaph, and was buried in Westminster Abbey (Chester, p. 189; Dart, Westmonasterium, ii. 125). Evelyn attended his funeral and describes him as ‘author of two large but mean histories and husband to the mother of the maids’ (Diary, ii. 320, ed. Wheatley).

Sanderson married, about 1626, Bridget, daughter of Sir Edward Tyrrell, baronet, of Thornton, Buckinghamshire; she was mother of the maids of honour to Catherine of Braganza, died on 17 Jan. 1682, and was buried in Westminster Abbey (Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, i. 352; Dart, ii. 125; Luttrell, Diary, i. 159).

Sanderson was author of three historical works: 1. ‘Aulicus Coquinariæ, or a Vindication in Answer to a Pamphlet entitled “The Court and Character of King James,”’ 1650, 12mo. This was an answer to the posthumous book of Sir Anthony Weldon, and has been sometimes attributed to Heylyn. Sanderson claims the authorship in the preface to his ‘History of James I.’ 2. ‘A Compleat History of the Lives and Reigns of Mary, Queen of Scotland, and her son James,’ 1656, fol. In the preface to the second part Sanderson observes: ‘For myself, having lived long time in court, and employed (till my grey hairs) more in business than in books; far unworthy, I humbly confess, to have any hand to the helm, yet I cabined near the steerage, and so might the more readily run the compass of the ship's way.’ A few anecdotes attest his acquaintance with the life of the court. 3. ‘A Complete History of the Life and Reign of King Charles from his Cradle to his Grave,’ 1658, folio, with a portrait of the author, ‘ætat. suæ 68.’ This is a compilation quoting freely from newspapers, speeches, manifestos, and the ‘Eikon Basilike;’ it is frequently inaccurate and of little original value. Sanderson devoted much space to answering L'Estrange's ‘History of Charles I’ and Heylyn's observations upon it. This involved him in a controversy with Heylyn, who published, early in 1658, ‘Respondet Petrus, or the Answer of Peter Heylyn, D.D., to Dr. Bernard's Book entitled “The Judgment of the late Primate of Ireland,” to which is added an Appendix in Answer to certain Passages in Mr. Sanderson's “History of the Life and Reign of King Charles.”’ Pages 139–57 are devoted to disproving Sanderson, and in particular to refuting his account of the passing of the Attainder Bill against Strafford. Sanderson replied in ‘Post Haste, a Reply to Dr. Peter Heylyn's Appendix’ (25 June 1658). Heylyn rejoined in his ‘Examen Historicum,’ 8vo, 1659, over two hundred pages of which consist of a searching criticism of Sanderson's historical works. Sanderson's defence, entitled ‘Peter Pursued,’ closed the controversy (4to, 1658–9).

His references to Ralegh in the ‘Life of James I,’ involved Sanderson in a controversy with Carew Ralegh [q. v.], who attacked him in ‘Observations upon a Book entitled “A Complete History, &c.” by a Lover of Truth,’ 4to, 1656 [see under Ralegh, Sir Walter]. Sanderson published in reply ‘An Answer to a scurrilous Pamphlet entitled “Observations upon a Complete History of Mary Queen of Scotland and her son James,” 4to, 1656.

Sanderson's only other published work was ‘Graphice: the Use of the Pen and Pencil, or the most excellent Art of Painting,’ folio, 1658, which contains a considerable amount of information on the history of that art in England (see Brydges, British Bibliographer, iv. 226–8). A portrait, engraved by W. Faithorne after G. Zoust, is prefixed (Bromley).

[Wood's Athenæ Oxonienses, ed. Bliss, iii. 565; authorities cited.]

C. H. F.