William Sandys, 1st Baron Sandys

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Arms of Sir William Sandys, KG
Holy Ghost Chapel, Basingstoke: Burial place of its founder, Lord Sandys

William Sandys, 1st Baron Sandys of the Vyne KG (1470 – 4 December 1540) was an English Tudor diplomat, Lord Chamberlain and favourite of King Henry VIII.

William was the son of Sir William Sandys of The Vyne, a Tudor mansion in Sherborne St. John, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, which the son greatly improved. It now belongs to the National Trust. His mother was his father's second wife, Margaret, the daughter of Sir John Cheney of Shurland on the Isle of Sheppey. As a young man, he gained preferment at Court and was soon associated with Prince Henry, assisting at his knighthood and the reception of Catherine of Aragon.

William remained a great friend of Henry when he became king and held a number of minor posts before becoming Treasurer of Calais in 1517. He was made a Knight of the Garter the following year (1518) and was apparently instrumental in organising the Royal meeting at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. He was made Baron Sandys of the Vyne soon afterwards. He became Lord Chamberlain in 1526 and Henry visited him three times at the Vyne, once with Anne Boleyn whom Sandys was later to escort to her imprisonment in the Tower. Although his sister Edith had married Lord Darcy, one of the leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, there is no evidence that Sandys played any part in the uprising, or that he sympathised with it.

Sandys later retired from court life and died in Calais on 4 December 1540. He was the founder of the Guild of the Holy Ghost in Basingstoke and was buried in its chapel, amongst the ruins of which part of his tomb may still be seen. He had married Margaret, the daughter of his cousin, John Bray, half-brother to Sir Reginald Bray, the statesman and architect, who probably helped Lord Sandys with his work at the Vyne. They had at least three sons and four daughters, including Thomas 2nd Baron Sandys of the Vyne, and Mary, who married Sir William Pelham, and was the mother of Sir William Pelham and Sir Edmund Pelham, Lord Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer.

He is a minor character in the historical novel The Man on a Donkey by H.F.M. Prescott.


Political offices
Preceded by
William FitzAlan, 18th Earl of Arundel
Lord Chamberlain
Succeeded by
William Paulet