Bastow, Sarah L. (2013) Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York 1577-88, ‘Stiff-Necked, Wilful And Obstinate’. Northern history: a review of the history of the North of England., 50 (2). pp. 239-256. ISSN 0078-172X

IN JANUARY 1577, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, wrote to Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon and Lord President of the Council in the North, to inform him that Queen Elizabeth I had nominated Bishop Sandys of London to be the new Archbishop of York. His letter was also intended to enlist Huntingdon’s help in securing the houses of Bishopthorpe and Cawood for Sandys’ use.1 Edwin Sandys had risen from Bishop of Worcester to Bishop of London, and his progression through the ranks of the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Elizabethan Church echoed the progress of his predecessor at York, Edmund Grindal. Having succeeded Grindal as Bishop of London he was once again to replace him, this time at York, whilst Grindal went on to be Archbishop of Canterbury. In contrast to Grindal’s career, Sandys left in his wake a trail of complaints about his financial dealings, which were often exacerbated by his rather irascible personality which seemed to engender disputes. At the end of April 1577 Sandys took ‘farewell’ as the key theme of the sermon he delivered at St Paul’s Cross prior to taking up his office at York. The sermon ‘For the Rest, Brethren, Fare ye well’ expressed Sandys’ genuine regret at leaving London, making comparison between his situation and that of St Paul, who was called away from his diligent labours at Corinth to preach elsewhere.2 Adamant that he would not forget those he left behind, he was keen to state that he was not a saint like St Paul, but that he too had loved his congregation and had sought to persuade rather than to use correction to reform transgressors.3 Sandys’ assertion that where there was ‘backwardness in knowledge, there must needs be also weakness of faith’, was an early indication of how he was to view the North.4 His translation to the archbishopric of York was also to be part of a move to convert the Catholic North, but it was not just recusants who were to be Sandys’ antagonists, as he was also to find himself in conflict with those who should have been his Protestant allies. This article will demonstrate that Sandys was at odds not just with the Catholic priests engaged in reconverting the nation and their papist congregations but also with those who should have been his natural allies. Sandys was in constant conflict with fellow Protestants who were engaged in the same tasks as him, namely creating a godly community in the North. Yet when examined in context, these quarrels sprang from a desire to secure the Church’s property, safeguard the Church’s reputation and to ensure that, as Archbishop of the province, he could genuinely fulfil what he saw as his duty, to educate the unenlightened.

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