A History of the Family of Sandford of Sandford, Askham, Howgill and Helton in the County of Westmorland



By William Arthur Cecil Sandford


"These are the Voices of the Past,
Links at a broken chain,
Wings that can bear us back to Times
Which cannot come again -
Yet God forbid that we should lose
The echoes that remain".

A.A.Proctor (adapted)

(Written 1924; retyped, with corrections, 1950.)


I Introduction p.
List of Authorities p.
Sandford of Sandford, 1174-1404 p.

II Edmund Sandford of Askham, 1330-1377. p.

III Sir William Sandford of Askham 1375-1416. p.
Robert Sandford of Askham, 1396-1459. p.
Thomas Sandford of Askham, 1427-1497. p.
William Sandford, 1451-1480. p.
Edmund Sandford of Askham 1475-1513. P.

IV Thomas Sandford at Askham, 1506-1563. P.

V John Sandford of Askham, 1537-1574. p.

VI Thomas Sandford of Askham, 1563-1609. p.
John Sandford of Askham, 160t-3630. p.
Thomas Sandford of Askham, 1628-1677. p.
William Sandford of Askham, 1651-1730. p.
Catherine Sandford of Askham, 1698-1773.. p.

VIII Sandford of Howgill. H. P.
Richard Sandford, 1540-1621. P.
Sir Thomas Sandford, kt., 1568-1609. p.
Sir Richard Sandford, Kt., 1580.1663. p.
Sir Thomas Sandford 1st bart., 1614-1659. p.
Sir Richard Sandford, 2nd bart., 1634-1675. p.
Sir Richard Sandford, 3rd bart., 1675-1723 p.

IX Sandford of Helton. p.
The non-Westmoreland branches. p.
The arms of Sandford. p.
Complete pedigree of family of Sandford p.


The family of which the following pages treat is amongst those called by Machel "The ancient gentry or the North". It is a family in no way distinguished and no article on one of its name appears in the Dictionary of National Biography. Yet from the year 1186, when Gamel de Sandford, the earliest known member of the family, appears in conjunction with the unsuccessful defenders of Appleby castle against King William the Lion down to 1745 when Col. Honywood the son of Mary Sandford the heiress of the Howgill branch took part in the last action fought on English soil there is hardly a political event connected with the North of England in which some member or other of the family did not take part: in fact its history may almost serve as a history of northern England in miniature. A member of the family was Knight of the shire of Westmoreland in that Parliament which deposed King Edward II; in the long struggle between the houses or York and Lancaster Sandford of Askham took a prominent part on behalf of the red rose, and in consequence nearly lost their estates,-a fate which again nearly befell them in the troublous days of Richard III. In the Tudor wars with Scotland the then head of the family took a prominent part and in the Persecution of the Catholics by Elizabeth and James 1 the Askham branch was well-nigh ruined for its adherence to the old faith. In the Great Rebellion the family took an active part on the side of the king, and in consequence the Howgill branch was heavily fined by the victorious Parliamentarian and so crippled in estate for many years. While in later days Sir Richard Sandford of Howgill was a prominent upholder of the Protestant succession and served in Parliament as a supporter of the Whigs.

No family hold a higher place in the two counties of Westmorland and Cumberland than that of Sandford and through their marriages they were related to practically all the old families of the North. Even the tragic downfall of the House of Askham in the early 17th century could not affect the honour in which it was held and sixty years afterwards we find it as prosperous and influential as ever.

Alas! of the branches of Askham and Howgill no male descendant now remains. As is the fate of so many old families these two branches ended in daughters, and by the
end of the 18th century the last of these daughters had passed away. But male descendants of the Helton branch of the family were still existing in 1912 and between Gamel de Sandford and the then representative of that branch stretch 25 generations, each step of the descent capable of complete proof.

It is rarely that one is able to obtain records of such a long descent, end this unusual condition is due in large measure to the Sandford MSS. stored in the Charter Room of Lowther Castle. These valuable records are 130 in number, and cover a period of time from about 1385 to the end of the 17th century. They are all of them deeds executed by various members of the family of Sandford of Askham, and which passed into the possession of the House of Lowther when the latter purchased the.. Estate of Askham at the beginning of the 19th century for Askham has shared the fate of the States of so many of the ancient families of Westmoreland, sad now to. a portion of the vast possessions of the Earl of Lonsdale.

One of the saddest things in collecting material for a family history of this nature is to notice how as the centuries roll by, family after family, once powerful and bearing an ancient and honourable name, passes away and is heard of no more. The great house of Clifford has long ago passed into history: Dacre of Dacre, Blenkinsopp of Helbeck, Warsop of Smardale (what a ring these old Northern names have) Sandford of Askham, Cleburn of Cleburn, Bellingham of Helsington, Blencow of B1encow, (to name a few) where are they now? Only an escutcheon of arms over the entrance door of the Hall or Castle, and the tradition of the villager (for in the North we have long memories, and the ancient lords of the soil are still remembered by the descendants of their erstwhile tenants, though centuries may have been passed since the last of the name ruled over them) remain to tell the passer-by of what was once a great and proud family. Some, it is true, still exist as families, but their lends have long since passed into alien holding. Some few still remain; the great House of Lowther absorbing through the centuries the property of its less fortunate neighbours, still exists, though shorn of Its former power and no longer living at Lowther Castle, while 8trickland of Sizergh and le Fleming of Rydal still hold the lands of their ancestors. But within the last few years Musgrave of Edenha]l, one of the most ancient, of them all, has been forced to part with the historical lands with which its name has been associated for so many centuries.

The history of a family is as the history of an individual, and to the compiler of the history the similitude comes with greater force as his records become more complete. The rise from childhood, the strength of
manhood, and the final dissolution - sometimes in the fulness of strength, more often, alas, in decay and feebleness - each has its counterpart. As the strength and fortunes of a man wax and wane, so with a family; while to those with imagination through the whole story runs the human interest which transmutes even the dryest of dry genea1ogical details into living men. 1 say advisedly "to those with imagination", for that gift is necessary to read the history of a family with pleasure. Those who have it not will find nothing but boredom in such a work..

The records of the early middle ages are of necessity few, and much has to be reasoned from a bare mention of a name. But read in conjunction with the circumstances in which the name occurs and with what is known from other sources of the subject of the reference, much can sometimes be discovered. Even a Chancery suit or a will can be full of deep human interest, as for instance the Chancery petition of John Sandford in 1626 and the will and codicil of Grace Sandford in 1584. All the past is full of romance, and what more romantic than the abduction and forced marriage of Margaret Sandford in 1404, the abduction of Grace Sandford in l525 or the assassination of Richard Sandford in 1675? And through the whole history it is borne on us more and more that men were the same in those far-away days as they are now, the same weaknesses, the same love of wife and children, the same self sacrifice for an ideal, the same extravagances, the same envies and hatreds, even the same conventions about which bills can be left longest unpaid, as witness the action by the London tailor against the widow of Sir Williams de Sandford in 1418.
"The generations pass, the House remains.... This is the virtue of ancient lineage; from generation to generation an honourable tradition of service, of peculiar obligation, gathers reinforcement. Every scion of the House is judged by the stern company of his forefathers; who together with his dower of body and mind and heritage, of land or wealth, bequeath him warning or example. No traffic in titles can purchase that unique inheritance, nor can any forfeiture of material possessions diminish its essential value." (b)

(b) Introduction to "Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford". L.Cope Cornford (1914)
It has been said that the work of the genealogist never ends: and I am quite aware that the discovery of records of the existence of which I am ignorant may modify or alter the details of some of the conclusions I have come to in the following pages. For the conclusions arrived at I take full responsibility, and in each case I have given full details of the references on which my statements are based so that the curious may study them for themselves should they so desire. In the case of the more important documents, I have given these in full in the appendices, which also include some of the arguments on which my statements are based. I have thought it better to take this line as the insertion of the complete documents (some of which are very lengthy) and the arguments (which are purely genealogical) in the body of the history becomes tedious and is apt to confuse the proper sequence of events.

The records on which the history is based are drawn from numerous sources; where possible the origina1 record is referred to, but where, as in the case of some of the documents quoted by Nicholson and Burn, and by Dodsworth its present location is unknown, I have been forced to refer to the printed reference to it. The reader can therefore use his own judgment as to the authenticity of any reference.

A list of the various references and authorities consulted will be found at the beginning of the book, with the abbreviations used in the footnote references.

My thanks and gratitude are due amongst others to Col. P. Haswell who kindly supplied most of the photographs of Askham Hall, Col. R. Littledale, the late Mr. Joseph. Sandford of Broughton-in-Furness, and Miss Mary E. Noble, for much valuable information, and also to the never-failing courtesy end assistance given by the officials at the Record Office, British Museum and Somerset House, but above all to the Revd. F.W.Ragg, F.R.Hist, without whose help this history could never have been written. Mr. Ragg some years ago obtained permission from the Earl of Lonsdale to examine all the documents stored in the Charter Room at Lowther Castle, and which include the Sandford MSS, in pursuance of the history of the North Westmorland parishes and families he was then engaged on. This is the first examination of the Sandford MSS since that made by Burn the historian about l738, and the value of the transcripts and notes made by Mr. Ragg is incalculable. A number of them are given in his valuable notice on the Sandford family in Vol XXI of the 'Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society (New Series) in 1921,
but want of space prevented him from using them to their full extent. For his never failing courtesy and assistance I can never be sufficiently grateful, not only for supplying me with the full text if many of the MSS. referred to, and much information on other family particulars, but also for the manner in which he placed at my disposal all his deep knowledge of history and feudal life and conditions.

In one or two instances I have had the temerity to query conclusions arrived at by him in his article above referred to, in the light of information obtained from documents that were not accessible to him at the time he wrote, but I do so with all deference.

None knows better than myself the shortcomings of this sketchy history, but at least I should like to express the hope that here and there it may add a little to our knowledge of a family that for over 6oo years held an honoured place amongst the gentle families of the North.

Authorities etc. Consulted and Quoted

"Alumni Oxonienses". Joseph Foster.
Additional MSS, at British Museum.
Assise Rolls (at Record Office).
"Archaeological Journal"
"Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain". Revd.R,Ruding.
"The Annual Biographer and Obituary"
"Antiquities of Furness". T.West (Close's edn. 1823).
"Bills of Privy Signet (at Record Office).
The Border Papers.
"A History of Bampton". M.E. Noble.
Chancery Proceedings (Record Office).
Calender of Fine Rolls.
Calender of State Papers (Domestic)
ditto ditto (Scottish)
ditto ditto (Venetian)
ditto ditto (Treasury Series)
Calender of Papal Letters.
"Complete Baronetage". G.E.C. (Cokayne)
"Complete Peerage". G.EC.
Catholic Record Society Publications.
"Castles and Towers in Westmorland & Cumberland" T.Curwen.
"History of Cumberland & Westmorland", J. Nicholson & R.Burn. (2 vols; 1777).
Chetham Society Publications.
Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society Transactions (Old Series).
ditto ditto ditto. (New Series).
Carlisle Tracts. (pub. by Cumb. & Westd, Ant. & Arch. Socy.)
"History of Cumberland". R.S. Ferguson.'
"A Cursory Relation of All the Antiquities & Familyes in Cumbrland".Edmund Sandford; (published in 'Carlisle Tract' Series).
Duchy of Lancaster Pleadings (Record Oftice).
Dodsworth MSS. at Bodleian Library.
"Dictionary of National Biography".
"History of Durham", R. Surtees.
"Eboracium". Drake.
"The Ejected of 1662". Rev. B, Nightingale.
Feet of Fines (Record Office.)
Feudal History of Derbyshire". J. Yeatman.
Fine Rolls.
Family Bible in possession of late Mr.Joseph Sandford.
"God's Revenge Against Murther". John Tonge, 1675.
House of Commons Journal.
The Hamilton Papers.
Issue Roll of Thomas de Brantingham.
Inquisitions Post Mortem (Chancery Series) (Record Office)
Ditto (Court of Wards) ditto.
Jeremy Collier's "Dictionary". 1700.
King's Bench Plea Roll (Record Office)."
"The Lady Anne Clifford" Dr. G.C. Williamson, .1922.
Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII". Gardiner. Liber Regis.
"Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Inland" • Sir B.Burke, l865.
"Machell of Crackenthorpe" E.Bellasis, 1886.
Machell MSS. in library of Dean & Chapter, Carlisle.
"M.P.'s of Cumberland and Westmorland, l660-1867".R.S. Ferguson (1871).
"Magna Britannia". J. Lysons.
"The Manchester & Glasgow Road". C.J. Harper.
"Middle Temple Records". C.H. Hopwood.
"Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica".'
"The Norsemen in Cumberland & Westmorland". R.S. Ferguson.
"Naval Biography" John Marshall.
Newbiggin MSS.
Historical MSS. Commission Reports. -
"History of Northumberland". Revd. J. Hodgson. .3 vols.
"History of Northumberland". H.E. Crastor. 12 vols.
"Old Manorial Halls of Westmorland and Cumberland." F.W.Taylor.
"Progresses of King James I". J. Nichols.
Roll Books for Westmorland.
do. Durham
do. Northumberland.
Parish Registers of Askham, Bampton, Shap, Lowther, Kendal, Aldingham, Ulverstone, Crossthwaite, Grasmere, Langdale, Milburn, Crook, etc. etc.
Patent Rolls. .~
Parliamentary Writs.
Placita de Banco (Record Office)
Proceedings of Committee for Compounding (Domestic State Papers).
Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
Rolls of Parliament.
"Rotuli Scotine".
"Registers of Parish of Askham". M.E. Noble.
ditto ditto Bampton" do
ditto ditto Shap". do
"Register of Admissions to Gray's Inn". Jos. Foster'.
"The Stricklands of Sizergh Castle". D. Scott.
Sandford MSS. at Lowther Castle (per Revd. F.W. Ragg).
Star Chamber Proceedings at Record Office.
Subsidy Rolls for Westmorland..
State Papers of Henry VIII at Record Office.
Special Commissions at Record Office.
"Scots Peerage". Douglas, edited by Sir James Balfour Paul.
"State Trials". J. Cobbett.
"Testamentia Kaleolensia". R.S. Ferguson.
"Visitations of Cumberland, Westmorland, Durham, Northumberland, Yorkshire, Lancashire, etc.
"Westmorland Church Notes". E. Bellasis.
A History of Westmorland". R.S. Ferguson.
"History of Westmorland". Revd. J. Hodgson.

Wills at Carlisle, York, Somerset House (Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Richmondshire, Court of Hustlings, etc.) Durham etc.
Woodward's MSS. Pedigrees in Library of Socy. of Genealogists of London.
Yorkshire Archaeological Journal.

Principal abbreviations used in footnotes
A.R. = Assize Roll.
N. & B. = "History of Cumberland and Westmorland" by Nicholson & Burn.
C. & W. Trans. (O.S..) = Transactions of Cumbd. & Westd. Antiq. & Arch. Socy. (Old Series)
C. & W. Trans. (N.S.) = ditto ditto (New Series)
Cha. Pro. = Chancery Proceedings.
P.R. = Parish Registers.
P.C.C. = Prerogative Court of Canterbury.
F. of F. = Feet of Fines.
Pat.R. = Patent Rolls.
R. O. = Record Office.
B.M. = British Museum.
L & P. Hy. VIII = Letters & Papers Henry VIII.
S.P. = State Papers.
Cal. S.P (Dom) = Calender of State Papers (Domestic).
Ham. Pap. = Hamilton Papers.
Bord. Pap. = Border Papers.
I.P.M. = Inquisitio Post Mortem.
Duc. Lanc. = Duchy of Lancaster.
C. of W. = Court of Wards.

Part 2

Part 3

Ó C R Grant