Alexander Hamilton Sands

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Alexander Hamilton Sands (1828–1887) was an American lawyer, writer, and Baptist minister, born in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Early life[edit]

He attended the College of William & Mary from the ages of 10 through 14, when his education was cut short by the death of his father in 1842, causing him to leave the College and move to Richmond, Virginia. There he entered the law office of his brother William G. Sands, who was the clerk of the Superior Court of Law and Chancery in the City of Richmond. He read the law under the tutelage of his brother and Superior Court Judge Robertson and procured his license to practice law on April 13, 1849, at the age of twenty-one. Sands eventually became one of the foremost lawyers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, particularly in the intricacies of chancery practice.[1]

Legal career[edit]

On April 13, 1849, Sands procured his license, and henceforth to the time of his death was an honored member of the legal profession; a profession which he described in his book, “Recreations of a Southern Barrister,” as one of the noblest. As an advocate, he was laborious fluent and convincing always ready as an extempore speaker yet excelling most when his thoughts had been first written or printed.[2]

Sands and John Howard shared a practice known as Howard & Sands. That office was located in the Goddin Building in Richmond, Virginia, which the Confederate Government used in 1861 to plan the first military operation for Virginia's participation in the Civil War. It was also the first building to be burned during the Evacuation Fire of 1865. This founding law practice eventually became the law firm of Sands Anderson PC.[3]

Religious career[edit]

Just before the American Civil War Mr. Sands was ordained as a Baptist minister, and he established churches in Ashland and Glen Allen for African Americans and served as their pastor.[4] For the rest of his life he preached on Sundays and practiced law during the week. Mr. Sands was a delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention (held in 1861). In the early 1880s, Mr. Sands practiced law with his son Conway in a firm known as Sands & Sands, and he continued the practice of law up until shortly before his death on December 22, 1887.[5]

Literary career[edit]

Alexander Sands was a prolific writer. For several years he edited the Evening Bulletin, a paper published in the City of Richmond, and during the absence of Jno. R. Thompson in Europe, he edited the Southern Literary Messenger. He was also editor of the Quarterly Law Review, published in Richmond, and contributed articles to the Methodist Quarterly Review, the Christian Review, the Religious Herald, and many other religious papers. In addition to these published works, he authored the following books: “History of a Suit in Equity” (1854 and 1882); “Recreations of a Southern Barrister” (1860); “Alexander Tate's American Form Book” (1857); “Practical Law Forms” (1872); “Hubbell's Legal Directory of Virginia Laws”; “Sermons by a Village Pastor”; and “A Constitutional History of Virginia” (not printed). Through his literary interest he met and befriended noted author, and U.S. Ambassador to Italy, Thomas Nelson Page.


  1. ^ Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. Encyclopedia of Virginia biography, under the editorial supervision of Lyon Gardiner Tyler. Lewis historical publishing company, 1915. 
  2. ^ Sands, Alexander Hamilton. Recreations of a southern barrister. J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1859. p. 212. 
  3. ^ "Sands Anderson PC Profile on". Martindale. 
  4. ^ "Henrico Markers". Archived from the original on 2011-02-18. 
  5. ^ Taylor, George Braxton Taylor. Virginia Baptist Ministers Fourth Series (PDF). The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc. 

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