SANDFORD, Robert I (d.1403/4), of Sandford and Burton, Westmld.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Sept. 1388

Family and Education

s. and h. of Thomas Sandford (d.c.1380) of Sandford and Burton by his w. Mary. m. by 1380, Margaret, 2da.1

Offices Held

Commr. of oyer and terminer, Westmld. May 1384 (disorder at Warcop), Cumb. Aug. 1386 (disorder at Kirkoswald), Nov. 1398 (disorder at Millom); gaol delivery, Carlisle castle Mar. 1390, Appleby castle Jan. 1398;2 inquiry, Cumb. Nov. 1392 (evasion of customs), Nov. 1392 (illicit fishing in the river Eden), Feb. 1397 (smuggling goods into Scotland), July 1397 (illicit fishing in the river Eden).

Collector of taxes, Westmld. Nov. 1386.

J.p. Westmld. 28 June 1390-July 1401, Cumb. 26 Jan. 1394-Nov. 1399.


Throughout the 14th century the Sandfords were involved in local government in the north-west, dominating the parliamentary representation of both the county of Westmorland and the borough of Appleby for many years. Robert Sandford, the great-grandfather and namesake of this MP, for example, was elected a shire knight on at least 16 occasions between 1316 and 1335, and also sat for Appleby at least once. His position as deputy to Robert, Lord Clifford, the hereditary sheriff of Westmorland, who was feudal overlord of the family manors of Sandford and Burton, no doubt helped him to achieve this remarkable record of service, which was continued by his descendants. His son, Thomas, represented Appleby in four Parliaments (sitting three times with a kinsman named William Sandford, who may have been his brother) and Westmorland in another three. In the next generation another Robert Sandford and our Member’s father, Thomas, kept up the tradition, although the latter sat only twice in the Lower House, and did not otherwise play a particularly active part in the county community. This Thomas Sandford was, however, a wealthy and influential man who, at his death, was able to dispose of almost £90 in cash as well as quantities of jewellery, plate and armour. He drew up his will in August 1380, by which date his son and heir, Robert, had already achieved a degree of notoriety. Some three years previously, the young man had taken part in an armed raid on parks at Brignall and West Witton in Yorkshire belonging to Richard, Lord Scrope of Bolton, but he appears to have escaped unpunished. Not all his pursuits were so violent, for he shared with his father an appreciation of fine plate and books, and it was he rather than his uncle, William Sandford, a priest, who inherited the impressive family collection of silver and various devotional works. Most of Thomas’s effects were, in fact, divided between his son and his widow, Mary, although the task of executing his will fell to one of his old friends, and not to any of his kindred.3

Like his ancestors before him, Robert now held the manors of Sandford and Burton as a tenant of the Cliffords, while his mother was allocated a house in Carlisle by way of dower. His appearance in 1385 as a mainpernor for the Cumbrian landowner, Sir Peter Tilliol*, and his membership of various royal commissions in Cumberland (where he served for five years as a j.p.) suggest that he probably had estates of his own in the county, too, although it was the electors of Westmorland who returned him to the Cambridge Parliament of 1388. Somewhat surprisingly, he sat only once in the House of Commons. His involvement in local administration, on the other hand, lasted for well over a decade until, in July 1401, he surrendered his place on the Westmorland bench. He was evidently still alive early in 1403, when an inquisition of Maud, the widow of Roger, Lord Clifford, recorded his name on a list of feudal tenants, but he can hardly have survived for much longer.4 At some point before October 1404, his widow, Margaret, married Sir Robert Leybourne*, who became the guardian of his two daughters and coheirs, Margaret (then aged nine) and Katherine. Their neighbour, Thomas Warcop II* of Lammerside, the under sheriff of Westmorland, was so determined to marry the young Margaret to his son, Thomas III* (and thus extend his own holdings in Sandford) that he prevailed upon Roland Thornburgh*, who was in fact her kinsman, to abduct the girl. After an appeal made personally by Leybourne to the second Parliament of 1404, the matter was submitted to arbitration and the marriage was apparently annulled. By June 1422, Margaret had become the wife of Christopher Bardsey, although her sister, Katherine, actually married into the Warcop family, perhaps in accordance with the terms of the mediators’ final award. Her husband, Thomas Warcop of Colby, was an interesting figure, who took holy orders on her death, and became vicar of Kirkby Stephen.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. Test. Karleolensia ed. Ferguson, 143-5; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxii. 338.
  • 2. C66/330 m. 30v, 351 m. 16v.
  • 3. Test. Karleolensia, 143-5; CPR, 1377-81, p. 94; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxi. 230-1.
  • 4. J. Nicolson and R. Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. i. 608; Test Karleolensia, 143-5; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. viii. 306-8; CCR, 1381-5, p. 533.
  • 5. RP, iii. 564-5; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. viii. 275; xxii. 338. The widowed Margaret Sandford is said to have married into the Warcop family herself after Robert’s death; but such a supposition is extremely unlikely, and seems to spring from a misunderstanding over the complex Warcop family pedigree.