October 29th William Sandys (Death)

London – born William Sandys (1792 – 1874) was a solicitor and antiquarian who is renowned for his famous and enduring ‘Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern’ (1833).

Sandys was married twice, firstly to Harriette Hill (1793 – 1851) of Constantine, and moved to Helston to practice law.

A committed Christian, he was inspired by the publication of traditional carols by Davies Gilbert (March 6th) in ‘Some Ancient Christmas Carols’ (1822).  Christmas carolling had almost completely ceased when Gilbert produced his anthology and Sandys followed his example, collecting what have since become standard Christmas carols which are familiar even to the completely non-religious.  For example, his first collection included ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’ and ‘The First Noel’.  

Sandys classified the carols by date with the first volume being titled ‘Containing Ancient Carols and Christmas Songs, From the Early Part of the Fifteenth to The End of the Seventeenth Century’ which includes carols from both Middle and Early Modern English.  The second publication ‘A Selection From Carols Still Used In The West Of England’ in which Sandys claimed he had selected ‘from upwards of one hundred obtained in different parts of the West of Cornwall’,  included the first printing of ‘I Saw Three Ships’ and  ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’.

                                                                                                                                         Previous                                           Next