SANDYS, Miles (d.1601), of Fladbury, Worcs. and Latimer, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

5th s. of William Sandys of Hawkshead, Lancs. and of London by Margaret, da. of John Dixon of London. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1544; M. Temple by 1551. m. (1) by c.1563, Hester, da. of William Clifton of Barrington, Som., 4s. inc. Edwin I 3da.; (2) 1586 or later, Bridget Colt, wid. of alderman Woodcock of London, s.p.2

Offices Held

Clerk of the Crown and attorney of Queen’s bench 1559-97; eccles. commr. 1566; member, council in the marches of Wales 1570-4; j.p.q. Worcs. by 1564-c. 1587, Bucks. by 1573, Beds. by 1580, other counties by 1601; bencher, M. Temple 1578, treasurer 1588-95; commr. musters, recusancy, Bucks. 1583, 1586.3


Of the several brothers of Edwin Sandys, bishop of Worcester from 1559 and archbishop of York from 1576, Miles was the best known. He may have been in exile with Edwin, certainly shared his protestantism, probably owed him his clerkship of the Crown in Queen’s bench at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, and was overseer of his will. During the early part of the reign he resided near his brother’s see, and became a j.p. in Worcestershire and a member of the council in the marches, but it was in Somerset that he acquired lands and made his first marriage.4

His puritan sympathies, which recommended him to several influential patrons, are the key to his parliamentary constituencies. Sir Francis Knollys, who had been in exile with Edwin Sandys, and was lord of the borough, probably nominated him at Taunton in 1563. On the other hand, Taunton’s former landlord was the bishop of Winchester, to whom the borough soon reverted, and Bishop Horne, another Marian exile, may have nominated Sandys for Taunton in 1563, as he presumably nominated him for Hindon in 1571. Sandys was also returned for Lancaster in 1571, probably through the influence of the duchy of Lancaster, successive members of his family having held the receivership of the duchy liberty of Furness; and it was for Lancaster that he preferred to sit, Thomas Dabridgecourt being returned at Hindon in his place. At Bridport in 1572, his patron was the 2nd Earl of Bedford, who left him an annuity of £20 in his will. It may have been Bedford who introduced Sandys into his own county of Buckinghamshire. In 1567 Sandys purchased Latimer from Sir Fulke Greville. Soon after his move to Buckinghamshire he seems to have become associated with Lord Sandys of The Vyne. No earlier relationship between these two families of Sandys is known, but Lord Sandys evidently saw in Miles Sandys’s eldest son, Edwin, a good match for his daughter. Several years before the marriage took place at Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, on 2 June 1586, Lord Sandys conveyed considerable lands, including Eaton Bray, to Miles Sandys, in connexion with the match. By 1584 Sandys was sufficiently established in Buckinghamshire to take his turn there as knight of the shire. In 1586 he came in for Abingdon at a by-election, probably through the intervention of the Earl of Leicester or Lord Norris of Rycote. In 1589 he sat for Plymouth, though he is not known to have had any connexion with the town. The long list of Sandys’s constituencies is completed by Andover and Stockbridge, at both of which Lord Sandys was probably the patron. At Stockbridge the evidence is clear: Sir Robert Cecil, asking too late for a nomination, was informed that Lord Sandys had already written to the borough, instructing that one seat be given to Miles Sandys and the other to the nominee of the duchy of Lancaster. At Andover Lord Sandys’s influence is suggested by the return of Edwin Sandys, Miles’s son, in 1586, the year of his marriage to Lord Sandys’s daughter, and by the return in 1589 of Thomas Temple, Miles Sandys’s son-in-law.5

The only reference found to Sandys in his first Parliament is to his membership of the large committee dealing with the Queen’s marriage and the succession question (31 Oct. 1566). Thenceforth he was a very active committeeman in all his Parliaments, but not a frequent speaker. His only recorded speech in 1571 was on the vagabonds bill (13 Apr.), which was ‘over sharp and bloody’: he thought it might be possible ‘to relieve every man at his own house and to stay them from wandering’. His committees in 1571 were on church attendance (6 Apr.), the subsidy (7 Apr.), promoters (23 Apr.), papal bulls (23 Apr.), religion (25 Apr.), respite of homage (25 Apr., 17 May) and fugitives (25 May). He was on the committees to consider the question of Mary Queen of Scots and the Duke of Norfolk (12, 28 May 1572), and he was also named to committees in this session on the Earl of Kent (29 May, 9 June), Wykes v. Denys (22 May), vagabonds (29 May) and delays in judgment (24 June). He spoke on the vagabonds bill (30 May) urging that minstrels should not be included within its provisions. In 1576 the subjects of his committees were: parish registers (10, 13 Feb.), the coinage (15 Feb.), juries (24 Feb., 5 Mar.), unlawful weapons (2 Mar.) and rogues (7 Mar.). In the last session of the 1572 Parliament his committees were concerned with the subsidy (25 Jan. 1581), counterfeit seals (26 Jan.), defeasances of statutes (28 Jan.), slanderous words and practices (1, 3 Feb.), encumbrances against purchasers (4 Feb.), Worcestershire copyholders (6 Feb.), the children of aliens (7 Feb.), the excessive number of attorneys (7 Feb.), the frontier with Scotland (25 Feb.), leases of tenants in tail (27 Feb.), Dover harbour (4 Mar.), the debts of Thomas Gresham (9 Mar.) and the Queen’s safety (14 Mar.).

In the Parliament of 1584-5 Sandys (‘I have spent the better part of 20 years in the study of the law’) was heavily involved in law reform and privilege cases. Speaking on a recurring subject of discussion in Elizabethan Parliaments — the depletion of stocks of standing timber caused by iron mills — he pointed out the irrelevance of the fact that the same bill had previously been rejected, ‘for we repeal many bills that we have made in former Parliaments’. Another speech was on general demurrers: ‘good pleading is the most honourable and praiseworthy in the law, but I would not have the client’s purse pay for the counsel’s cunning’. He was in charge of this bill, answered all objections made, and declared it ‘very necessary’ but a bill about wards was ‘better advised upon’. Sandys’ first privilege case in this Parliament concerned Arthur Hall (12 Dec.). On 10 Feb. Sandys, with the diarist Thomas Cromwell and the recorder of London, was instructed to attend the chancellor about a subpoena served on John Croke II, and it was Sandys who reported next day that the chancellor denied the claim. On 11 Feb. he was one of those appointed to tax the costs of the successful claimant in the Alban Stepneth case. Among other committees to which Sandys was appointed in 1584-5 were those concerned with the continuation of statutes (1 Dec., 11 Mar.), delays in administering justice (5 Dec.), recusants’ armour (8 Dec.), assurances (16 Dec.), appeals from ecclesiastical courts (18 Dec.), the Sabbath day (19 Dec.), penal laws (21 Dec.), the hue and cry (4 Feb.), Queen’s College, Oxford (5 Feb.), juries (10 Feb.), jesuits (18 Feb., 9 Mar.), fraudulent conveyances (18, 20 Feb.), roads and bridges (24 Feb.), the subsidy (24 Feb.), marriage licences (26 Feb.) and apprentices (10 Mar.).

Sandys was noticeably less active in the Parliament of 1586-7. He is not recorded as speaking, but he was named to committees on Mary Queen of Scots (4 Nov.), the Norfolk election (9 Nov.), the import of fish (6 Mar.), cattle theft (10 Mar.), the subsidy (11 Mar.) and fraudulent conveyances (13 Mar.). In December 1588 he was one of the lawyers asked by the Privy Council to consider which statutes needed repeal or amendment in the forthcoming Parliament, but when it came he apparently served only on the subsidy committee (11 Feb. 1589).

Sandys surfaced again in 1593. He was put on the first privileges and returns committee at the outset of the Parliament (26 Feb.), and he was named to the subsidy committee the same day, and on 28 Feb. and 1 Mar. He spoke on the Fitzherbert privilege case (2 Mar.) and moved for the consideration of the poor law (12 Mar.). He was appointed to a committee on recusancy (28 Feb.) and wished Brownists to be included within the provisions of this bill (13 Mar.). He spoke again on the subject on 4 Apr. His other committees this Parliament were on cattle theft (5 Mar.), the poor law (12 Mar.) and petty larceny (16 Mar.). He was given leave of absence (17 Mar.) for ‘some necessary occasions’, and had returned by 4 Apr.

No speech is recorded for Sandys in 1597-8. His committees were on privileges and returns (5 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), the penal laws (8 Nov.), the explanation of statutes (12 Nov.), sturdy beggars (22 Nov.), tillage (13 Dec.), writs of error (11 Jan.), malt (12 Jan.), charitable uses (14 Jan.), defence (16 Jan.), mariners (26 Jan.) and bail (27 Jan.).6

Outside Parliament, Sandys was one of sixteen commissioners instructed by the Privy Council in 1586 to try to persuade seminary priests, imprisoned in London, to conform. In later years his extra-parliamentary activities were confined more and more to the duties of a justice in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, counties in which he purchased further lands, for more than £1,000, in 1590. In 1592 he was a commissioner to take the oath of supremacy from the Buckinghamshire justices. His tenants accused him of curtailing copyhold rights, refusing access to the court rolls, and charging lands with knight service in order to obtain wardships.7

Sandys made his will in November 1600. He was confident of his salvation by ‘free grace’ and the merits of Christ, and trusted that he would be received ‘to dwell among the souls of God’s elect’. He was to be buried without ‘vain pomp, ostentation or chargeable funeral’. He bade his eldest son, Edwin, be kind to the widow and ‘travail in her causes’, as he had travailed in Edwin’s ‘most troublesome and tedious causes’; the widow was bidden, in her turn, to be kind to the children, and God, ‘the father of the fatherless orphans’, would bless her. Sandys died on 22 Oct. 1601, leaving lands in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Sussex, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.8

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: Alan Harding / P. W. Hasler


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 123; VCH Lancs. viii. 377; PCC 47 Windsor.
  • 3. CPR, 1558-60, p. 107; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 461; Lansd. 683, f. 70; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 356-7; Strype, Annals, iii(2), 458; Harl. 474; APC, xiv. 80.
  • 4. Strype, ii(2), 246; Borthwick Inst. Hist. Res., Archbishop Sandys’s reg. f. 103; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 5.
  • 5. Somerville, Duchy, i. 292, 497; PCC 45 Windsor; VCH Bucks. iii. 148, 207, 209, 398; VCH Berks. iii. 371, 391; VCH Berks. iii. 255; Eton Coll. Reg. i. 295; CSP Dom. 1597-1601, p. 144; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, i. 333; HMC Hatfield, vii. 432, 484.
  • 6. D’Ewes, 127, 158, 159, 165, 178, 179, 184, 188, 206, 213, 220, 222, 223, 247, 248, 250, 253, 288, 289, 291, 292, 293, 298, 301, 302, 304, 306, 334, 336, 337, 339, 340, 341, 343, 345, 346, 347, 348, 351, 352, 353, 355, 356, 361, 362, 364, 365, 394, 396, 412, 414, 431, 471, 474, 477, 478, 481, 487, 499, 500, 502, 517, 552, 553, 556, 561, 572, 577, 578, 580, 581, 587, 588, 589; CJ, i. 83, 85, 86, 90, 92, 95, 96, 99, 101, 102, 105, 106, 108, 110, 111, 120, 121, 122, 123, 127, 129, 131, 132, 134; Trinity, Dublin, anon. jnl. f. 20; Lansd. 43, anon. jnl. ff. 169, 172, 175; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. f. 82; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 71, 76, 104, 107, 120, 122, 123; HMC Lords, n.s. xi. 8; APC, xvi. 416.
  • 7. APC, xiv. 80; xv. 122; xvii. 77; xviii. 288; xix. 61; xxiii. 256; xxvi. 14; VCH Bucks. iii. 209.
  • 8. PCC 65 Woodhall; C142/271/162.