Edwin Sandys

(1561—1629) politician and colonial entrepreneur

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Richard Hooker (1554—1600) theologian and philosopher



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Edwin Sandys was born in Worcestershire on 9 December 1561 and died in Northbourne, Kent in the second half of October 1629. The second son of Archbishop Edwin Sandys of York, he was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he matriculated in 1577. He graduated BA in 1579 and MA in 1583. Sandys became a Fellow of Corpus Christi in 1579, but left a few years later to marry. His wife died in childbirth in 1588, and he later remarried three times. In 1590 he entered the Middle Temple. At Corpus Christi he befriended his tutor Richard Hooker and the two men shared many political and religious views. Archbishop Sandys had helped to secure Hooker's appointment as Master of the Middle Temple. Edwin was instrumental in finding a publisher for the first four books of Hooker's great Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity in 1593, and financed the printing of them as well as (in 1597) the fifth book. The Laws attacked Puritanism and defended the established Church, but avoided the political theory of the divine right of kings; they vested supremacy over the Church not in the monarch alone but in the queen-in-Parliament. Sandys similarly opposed Puritanism while rejecting attempts to increase the Crown's prerogatives. He was an active politician and served as a member in most Parliaments from 1586 onwards. In the 1590s he travelled abroad. On the basis of his observations, he wrote A Relation of the State of Religion, which was completed in 1599. It was published in 1605, perhaps without his consent, and was soon suppressed. Another and much more accurate edition came out in 1629. It offered a strikingly detached analysis of European religion, especially Catholicism, and avoided lumping all Catholics together as equally seditious and anti-Christian. The book struck a distinctly novel note in admitting that religious unity was unlikely to be re-established in Europe, instead arguing for peaceful coexistence between different religions. It was translated into a number of languages, and the Italian version was annotated by Paolo Sarpi. Hugo Grotius praised it, and William Chillingworth approvingly cited it in his latitudinarian and tolerationist The Religion of Protestants a Safe Way to Salvation (1638).


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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