Robert Sanderson 1587-1663

From Book Owners Online

Robert SANDERSON 1587-1663

Biographical Note

Born in Sheffield, son of Robert Sanderson of Gilthwaite, Rotherham. BA Lincoln College, Oxford 1605, MA 1607, BD 1617, DD 1636, fellow 1606-19. Chaplain to George Montaigne, Bishop of London before becoming rector of Wyberton, Lincolnshire and vicar of Heckington in 1618, then rector of Boothby Pagnell in 1619, a post he held until 1660. Prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral, 1629, prebendary of Southwell 1641, canon of Christ Church, Oxford 1642; chaplain to Charles I, 1631. Sanderson acquired a reputation not only as a fine preacher, but also as a diligent and respected parish priest. He was doctrinally Calvinist and anti-Arminian, but opposed to many of the actions of presbyterians and independents, as fostering sectarianism, and he supported church ceremonies.

He was sequestered and briefly imprisoned in 1644 but in 1646 he went to Oxford to assume the post of Regius Professor of Divinity there (deprived, 1648). He attended Charles I on the Isle of Wight before returning to Boothby Pagnell where he spent the Interregnum. He was appointed Bishop of Lincoln in 1660, and a member of the committee of bishops revising the Book of Common Prayer.


Sanderson was always a scholar, with many sermons, devotional and doctrinal works published during his lifetime; Isaak Walton, in his biography published in 1681, noted that "he had a natural love to genealogies and heraldry, and that when his thoughts were harassed, ... [he] turned to them as a recreation ... he could in a very short time give an account of the descent, arms, and antiquity of any family of the nobility or gentry". He added that Aristotle's Rhetoric, Aquinas's Secunda secundae, and Cicero's Offices were Sanderson's favourite books, which he could recite from memory. There can be little doubt that he owned a significant library but very little can be traced today. There are 3 manuscript books in the library of St George's Chapel, Windsor , which carry inscriptions noting that they were Sanderson's (a Prayer Book with sermons, a book of arms, and a biography of Matthew Palmery. The database of British armorial bindings attributes a stamp to Sanderson, whose use is recorded on a few books, but the attribution is questionable (the arms could belong to others), and the books on which it is found have no other demonstrable connection with him.

In his will, Sanderson left extensive directions regarding both his library and his literary legacy. His son Henry was to have all the books in his study, printed or manuscript, relating to the history of England, heraldry, or genealogy, foreign and domestic, "either for himself to make use of ... or else to part with them to some such person as will give a very good rate for them, for having used so much care and diligence as I have done to make these collections I would not have my pains therein too much undervalued". Any books in his custody belonging to others were to be returned, the Bible in two volumes published by Ogilby was to be given to Lord Roos (George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham), "as a poor testimony of my oblations to that noble family", and his son Thomas was to receive his Polyglot Bible, "so to descend to the heirs male of my body". The residue of his books was to be kept and sold together, "by the advice of some knowing Stationer ... a perfect catalogue of them being first taken and severally valued". He explained the reason for keeping and selling them together: the collection included numerous manuscript "indexes and references" to his books "which will be lost in case the books be sold out by parcels". The purchaser of the library was to receive these indexes. He also stated that he did "absolutely renounce and disown whatsoever shall be published after my decease in my name as none of mine, whether sermons cases of conscience or other treatises or letters, desiring the books may be suppressed and the publishers pursued according to law". He explained his concerns around his inability to review and revise his texts after his death, and "because I may have changed my judgment in sundry things". It may be noted, however, that many editions of his sermons and other works were in fact published soon after his death, and for many decades thereafter.

Some books advertised as being from his library were included in a retail sale which began in London on 13 May 1729, together with books from James Harvey and Thomas Oliver (no sale catalogue survives).

Characteristic Markings

Sanderson's books have not been identified.