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EDWIN SANDYS or Sandes was born in the year 1519, near Hawkshead, in the part of Lancashire called Furness Fells. He was the third son of William Sandys, Esq. and Margaret his wife, a descendant of the ancient barons of Kendal. As Easthwaite Hall was the principal residence of the father, it is probable that it was in this house that Edwin first saw the light.
It is not certainly known at what seminary the future archbishop received the rudiments of his education: it has however been conjectured with some plausibility by a biographer that, as the school of Furness Abbey was then highly distinguished, and as his family were feudatories of that house, he was a pupil of the monks. It is also ascertained that he was at one time instructed by Mr Bland, who, being rector of Adesham in Kent, was apprehended for his religion and burned at Canterbury, July 12, 1555. In 1532 or 3 he was removed to the University of Cambridge, and placed at St John's College, a house deeply tinctured with the principles of the Reformation; and here doubtless the religious views of Sandys were, if not implanted, at least confirmed. Though never either scholar or fellow of his college, he served the office of proctor, and was in 1547 elected master of Catharine Hall. This was just after his father's decease. He is said to have been at this time vicar of Haversham in Buckinghamshire, his
first considerable preferment: in 1549 he was made prebendary of Peterborough, and obtained in 1552 the second stall at Carlisle, both on the presentation of the crown. He had previously married a lady of his own name. In 1553, when he was vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, king Edward VI. died: the troubles that ensued to Sandys shall be narrated in the words of Fox.
"King Edward died, the world being unworthy of him: the duke of Northumberland came down to Cambridge with an army of men, having commission to proclaim lady Jane queen, and by power to suppress lady Mary, who took upon her that dignity, and was proclaimed queen in Norfolk. The duke sent for Doctor Sandys, being vice-chancellor, for Doctor Parker, for Doctor Bill, and Master Leaver to sup with him. Amongst other speeches he said, Masters, pray for us, that we speed well: if not, you shall be made bishops, and we deacons. And even so it came to pass: Doctor Parker and Doctor Sandys were made bishops; and he, and Sir John Gates who was then at the table, were made deacons ere it was long after, on the Tower-hill. Doctor Sandys being vice-chancellor was required to preach on the morrow. The warning was short for such an auditory, and to speak of such a matter: yet he refused not the thing, but went into his chamber, and so to bed. He rose at three of the clock in the morning, took his bible in his hand, and after that he had prayed a good space, he shut his eyes, and, holding his bible before him, earnestly prayed to God that it might fall open where a most fit text should be for him to entreat of. The bible, as God would have it, fell open upon the first chapter of Josua, where he found so convenient a piece of scripture for that time, that the like he could not have chosen in all the bible. His text
Josh. i. 16- was thus: Responderuntque ad Josue atque dixerunt, Omnia
quæ præcepisti nobis faciemus, et quocunque miseris ibimus: