George sandys

George Sandys (1577-1644). Courtesy University of Virginia.

George Sandys (2 March 1577 - March 1644) was an English poet, traveller, and colonist.


Sandys was born in Bishopsthorpe, the 7th and youngest son of Edwin Sandys, archbishop of York. He studied at St Mary Hall, Oxford, but took no degree.

On his travels, which began in 1610, he first visited France; from north Italy he passed by way of Venice to Constantinople, and thence to Egypt, Mt. Sinai, Palestine, Cyprus, Sicily, Naples and Rome. His narrative, dedicated, like all his other works, to Charles (either as prince or king), was published in 1615, and formed a substantial contribution to geography and ethnology.

He also took great interest in the earliest English colonization in America. In April 1621 he became colonial treasurer of the Virginia Company and sailed to Virginia with his niece's husband, Sir Francis Wyat, the new governor.

When Virginia became a crown colony, Sandys was created a member of council in August 1624; he was reappointed to this post in 1626 and 1628. In 1631 he vainly applied for the secretaryship to the new special commission for the better plantation of Virginia; soon after this he returned to England for good.

In 1621 he had already published an English translation of part of Ovid's Metamorphoses; this he completed in 1626; on this mainly his poetic reputation rested in the 17th and 18th centuries. He also began a version of Virgil's Aeneid, but never produced more than the first book. In 1636 he issued his famous Paraphrase upon the Psalms and Hymns dispersed throughout the Old and New Testaments; and he translated Christ's Passion from the Latin of Grotius; and in 1641 he brought out his last work, a Paraphrase of the Song of Songs. He died, unmarried, at Boxley, near Maidstone, Kent, in 1644.

Sandys' travel narrative appeared as The Relation of a Journey begun an. Dom. 1610, in four books (1615). This remained a standard account of the Eastern Mediterranean, twice mentioned, for instance, by the English naval chaplain Henry Teonge in his diary of a voyage in 1675.


George Sandys was the uncle of Richard Lovelace (1618–1657), an English poet in the 17th century.

His brother Edwin Sandys (died 1629) was a politician and an influential member of the London Virginia Company.


Critical introductionEdit

by George Augustus Simcox

Sandys, the only one of the four [Sandys, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, and Henry Vaughan] who escaped the epidemic of conceits which ran its course in the first half of the seventeenth century, was the only one who had a full and successful life. He too was the only one who could write smooth, clear and vigorous verse, an accomplishment which requires perfect self-possession, or overmastering inspiration, or good models. Sandys wrote before Waller and Denham as well as the average versifiers who came after Dryden. His classical translations are not equal to his scriptural paraphrases, and if he had finished the Aeneid Dryden would have left it alone. Like Dryden he did his best work late: he was fifty-nine when he published the Psalms.

It does not do to compare Sandys with the authorised version of the Bible. Wherever the original is peculiarly striking he is disappointing: he gives his reader no such compensation for his temerity as Sternhold’s version of the Theophany in the 18th Psalm or the close of the 24th, or as Watts’s equally well-known paraphrase of the 90th. Even Tate and Brady at their best, as in the 139th Psalm, come very near to Sandys’ highest level; but he is much more equable; he never subsides, like Sternhold and Hopkins, into doggerel; he never subsides, like Tate and Brady, into diffuse platitudes. He always grasps the meaning for himself; he seems to work, if not always from the Hebrew, from an ancient version, and he sometimes exhibits a really masterly power of condensation, as in the 119th and the 150th Psalms. Apart from the strictly relative praise due to the versification, the paraphrase on Job is appallingly tame.[1]


Sandys's verse was praised by Dryden and Pope. Milton was somewhat indebted to Sandys's Hymn to my Redeemer (inserted in his travels at the place of his visit to the Holy Sepulchre) in his Ode on the Passion.



  • The Poetical Works: Now first collected (edited by Richard Hooper). London: John Russell Smith, 1872. Volume I, Volume II


  • Christs Passion: A tragedie. London: J.R. for T. Basset, 1687.



Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[2]

See alsoEdit



  1. from George Augustus Simcox, "Critical Introduction: Sandys, Herbert, Crashaw, Vaughan," The English Poets: Selections with critical introductions (edited by Thomas Humphry Ward). New York & London: Macmillan, 1880-1918. Web, Feb. 9, 2016.
  2. Search results = au:George Sandys, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Feb. 9, 2015.

External linksEdit

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