Sancroft, William

Person Key: 
SAN001
Family Name: 
Sancroft
First Name(s): 
William
Person Title: 
Archbishop of Canterbury
Titular Place: 
Canterbury
Ecclesiastical hierarchy: 
Archbishop
Birth Year: 
1617
Death Year: 
1693
Century: 
17
Biography: 

William Sancroft was the second son of Francis Sandcroft or Sancroft, of Fressingfield in Suffolk, and Margaret, daughter and coheir of Thomas Butcher. The family were of yeoman stock, the arms in the second stamp being granted to William and his elder brother Thomas 26 January 1663. William was educated at Bury St Edmunds Grammar School and was admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge 10 September 1633, his uncle William Sandcroft being at that time Master of the College. He graduated B.A. in 1637, M.A. in 1641, and B.D. in 1648. In 1642 he was elected Fellow and, because of his exemplary character was not ejected until 1651. When he was ejected, he at first lived with his brother, and then, in 1657, went abroad. At the Restoration, he was restored to his fellowship and in 1662 he was elected Master of Emmanuel, where he turned the chapel into a library, and procured plans for a new chapel. In 1664 he was made Dean of York on the 8 January, and Dean of St Paul's on the 10 December. In the latter office he was instrumental, with Sir Christopher Wren, in the rebuilding of St Paul's after the Great Fire of London. He was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury 27 January 1678, but opposed James II who sent him to the Tower. Despite this, at the Glorious Revolution he remained faithful to his oath of allegiance to James II. As a result he was suspended and returned to Fressingfield, where he built himself a modest house. He had intended to leave his library to Lambeth Palace, but now changed his mind, sending his books remaining at Lambeth to Emmanuel College as a gift. He intended his manuscripts and the larger part of his printed books at Fressingfield, to go to the college after his death, reserving for his nephews such books as would suit a gentleman's library. As he took no formal steps to this end, his heirs made no attempt to carry out his wishes, and are said to have sold his manuscripts to the bookseller Bateman for eighty guineas, of whom they were bought by Bishop Tanner who presented them to the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Biographical Sources: 
Helen Carron.‘William Sancroft (1617-93): a Seventeenth-Century Collector and his Library’. The Library 7th Series Vol.1 290-307 (September 2000).