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SANDFORD, SAUNFORD, or SAMPFORD, JOHN de (d. 1294), archbishop of Dublin, was of illegitimate birth (Bliss, Cal. Papal Letters, p. 479), and is said to have been brother of Fulk de Sandford [q. v.], archbishop of Dublin (Ware, Commentary on Prelates of Ireland, Archbishops of Dublin, p. 6), and therefore to have been connected with the Bassets of Wycombe. On 16 Sept. 1271, a few months after his brother Fulk's death, he was appointed by Henry III escheator of Ireland (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1252–84, p. 155). After the death of Henry he was, on 7 Dec. 1272, appointed with others to receive the oaths of fealty to Edward I (ib. p. 163), and on the same day his appointment as escheator was renewed (ib.) He was allowed his expenses (ib. p. 173), and on 22 Sept. was granted 40l. a year and two suitable robes for his maintenance and 40l. a year and two robes for expenses (ib. p. 176). In 1281 he acted as justice in eyre in Ulster (ib. p. 374). He was also engaged in judicial work in England.

Sandford's political and judicial services were rewarded by numerous ecclesiastical preferments. During his brother's lifetime he acquired a prebend in St. Patrick's, Dublin. About 1269 he became treasurer of Ferns, about 1271 he obtained the living of Cavendish in Suffolk, and about 1274 that of Loughborough in Leicestershire. As his illegitimate birth stood in the way of his receiving canonical promotion, he obtained from Gregory X a dispensation allowing him to hold benefices of the value of 500l. and to be promoted to the episcopate. Thereupon he resigned his treasurership, and in 1275 vacated his prebend on being elevated to the deanery of St. Patrick's (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1252–84, p. 212). In the same year he accepted the living of Youghal, retaining his other preferments (Bliss, Cal. Papal Letters, i. 479). He was only in subdeacon's orders (ib. i. 481). After the death of John of Darlington [q. v.], archbishop of Dublin, he was elected archbishop by the two chapters of St. Patrick's and Holy Trinity (now Christ Church). On 20 July 1284 Edward I gave the royal assent to his appointment (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1252–84, p. 521), and the election was presented to Martin IV. Sandford and five canons of the Dublin cathedrals went to the papal curia to prosecute his claims. But the appointment was hotly opposed. The dispensation of Gregory X had been lost, and the only copy existing excited suspicion as not according to the forms of the Roman court. It looked as if, instead of getting the archbishopric, Sandford might lose what he had already. When Martin IV died, on 28 March 1285, at Perugia, the case was still unsettled. Honorius IV was chosen pope on 2 April, and Sandford was glad to smooth matters by resigning all claims to the archbishopric. On 17 April, at the request of Edward I, Honorius confirmed his earlier preferments and allowed him to enjoy the benefits of the suspected bull (Cal. Papal Letters, i. 479). To avoid long journeys, expense, and discord, the pope ordered Sandford as dean and the five canons then at Rome to elect an archbishop. Sandford modestly gave his vote for one John of Nottingham, one of the canons present, but the five canons, headed by Nottingham, agreed on the election of Sandford. On 30 May 1285 Honorius issued from St. Peter's his confirmation of the election (ib. i. 480; cf. Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1285–92, p. 34; Cal. Papal Letters, i. 481). The archbishop-elect went home. On 6 Aug. his temporalities were restored (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1285–92, p. 43), and on 7 April 1286 he was consecrated in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Dublin (Ware, Commentary of Prelates of Ireland, Archbishops of Dublin, p. 6 [1704].).

The next few years were a particularly disturbed period in Ireland, and in 1288 the sudden death of the viceroy, Stephen de Fulburne, archbishop of Tuam, increased the confusion. On 30 June Sandford, of his own authority, took on himself the government of Ireland. On 7 July 1288 the Irish council met at Dublin and agreed that he should be keeper of Ireland until the king should otherwise provide. Sandford, ‘out of reverence for the king and people,’ accepted the office. His government was regarded as beginning on 30 June. On 20 July he went to Connaught to survey the king's castles and pacify that region. In August he went to Leix and Offaly, where the native clans were at war against the Norman lords. On 9 Sept. he was at Kildare, whence he went to Cork and Carlow. On 1 Oct. he was at Limerick, and a few days later at Waterford. Early in 1289 he made a tour in Desmond, where a revolt had recently broken out. In the spring he started northwards. After a stay in Meath, he led at the end of March a second expedition into Connaught. He devoted the summer to Desmond and Thomond, and the whole autumn to restoring peace in Leix and Offaly, where his energy and large following reduced the whole district to peace. At Hilarytide 1290 he held a parliament in Dublin, and at Easter another parliament at Kilkenny. In May another Irish rising called him to Athlone. Comparative peace now ensued, and Sandford spent the summer in a judicial eyre from Dublin to Drogheda, Kells, Mullingar, and so to Connaught, and thence into Leinster. ‘In these counties he rectified the king's affairs so that Ireland was ever afterwards at peace.’ A minute itinerary and some notion of his work can be drawn from the ‘expenses of journeys to divers parts of Ireland of John, archbishop of Dublin, when keeper of Ireland,’ calendared in ‘Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, 1285–92’ (pp. 265–77). On 11 Nov. 1290 he gave up his office (ib. p. 276). The wars had so reduced the profits of his see that he was unable to properly maintain his table, and in 1289 obtained from Nicholas IV a grant of first fruits within his diocese for that purpose (Cal. Papal Letters, i. 508).

On 21 March 1291 Sandford received letters of protection for two years on his going to England to the king (ib. p. 392). He was now actively employed by Edward on English business. He was present in 1292 at the proceedings involved in the great suit for the Scots succession. On 14 Oct. 1292 he was one of the bishops who declared that the suit should be decided by English law (Ann. Regni Scotiæ in Rishanger, p. 255). He subscribed the declaration in favour of the issue of the elder daughter which settled the suit in Balliol's favour (ib. p. 260). He was at the final judgment at Berwick, and witnessed at Norham Balliol's oath of fealty to Edward I (ib. pp. 357, 363). On 20 Sept. 1293 he officiated at Bristol at the marriage of the king's eldest daughter Eleanor to Henry, count of Bar (Ann. Worcester, p. 513; Cont. Flor. Wig. ii. 268). Sandford was a zealous partisan of Edward, and did his best to persuade the clergy to make vast grants to him (Dunstaple Annals, p. 389). At Whitsuntide 1294 he was at the London parliament which agreed to war against France to recover Gascony. On 20 June he was sent with Antony Bek [q. v.], bishop of Durham, and others to negotiate an alliance with Adolf of Nassau, king of the Romans, against the French (Fœdera, i. 802). Florence, count of Holland, and Siegfried, archbishop of Cologne, furthered the proposed alliance. The main business of the English envoys was to scatter money freely (Flores Hist. iii. 273). On 10 Aug. Sandford and Bek agreed upon a treaty, which on 21 Aug. Adolf signed at Nürnberg. Many German princes joined the treaty, which was on 24 Sept. accepted by the negotiators of both sides at Dordrecht. Sandford apparently took the treaty back to England. He landed at Yarmouth, and quickly succumbed to a sudden but fatal illness (Cont. Flor. Wig. ii. 274; Pauli, Geschichte von England, iv. 86–8). He died at Yarmouth on 2 Oct. (Cartularies, &c., of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, ii. 322). He was buried at St. Patrick's, Dublin, on 20 Feb. 1295 (ib.)

[Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, 1252–84, 1285–92, 1293–1301; Calendar of Papal Letters, vol. i.; Theiner's Vetusta Monumenta (1864); Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i.; Rishanger; Ann. Worcester, Osney and Dunstaple, in Ann. Monastici; Flores Hist. vol. iii.; Cartularies, &c., of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin (the last four in Rolls Ser.); Facsimiles of National Manuscripts, Ireland, pt. ii.; Cont. Flor. Wig. (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Ware's Commentary on Prelates of Ireland, 1704; Gilbert's Viceroys of Ireland; Pauli's Geschichte von England, vol. iv.; Foss's Biographia Juridica, p. 587.]

T. F. T.