Edwin Sandys, Engraver

(d. 1708)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Edwin Sandys, the earliest engraver of any importance in Ireland, was a native of Dublin, probably connected with the English family of that name of which Archbishop Sandys was a member. He was living in Crane Lane at the close of the seventeenth century, and was employed as an engraver by the Government and by the Dublin Philosophical Society. For this Society he drew and engraved a portrait of "Sir William Petty," its first President, which formed the frontispiece to "Hiberniae Delineatio" published in 1685. In 1693 he executed a large Map in four sheets, "A New Map of the City of Londonderry as it was besieged by the Irish Army in the year 1689, exactly surveyed by Captain Francis Nevill." This map contains views of the city and public buildings. In 1694 a drawing of the Giant's Causeway, by C. Cole (q.v.), was engraved, but not being satisfactory Sandys was engaged to draw and engrave another. This appeared in the 20th volume of the "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society," London, with "A Letter from Dr. Thomas Molyneux to Dr. Martin Lister, Fellow of the Colledge of Physicians and R.S., containing some additional observations on the Giant's Causeway in Ireland."

After referring to Cole's drawing, Dr. Molyneux says: "I proposed last summer to some philosophical gentlemen in Dublin that we should employ at our common charge one Mr. Sandys, a good master in designing of prospects, to go into the North of Ireland and upon the place to take the genuine and accurate figure of the whole rock with the natural features of the hills and country about it for some distance. Accordingly we sent him away with such instructions as I drew up for him, and he returned soon after with a fair and beautiful draught very expressive of each particular we desired, an exact copy of which my brother lately sent over to the Royal Society." The engraving first appeared in Vol. XVIII of the "Philosophical Transactions," and afterwards in Vol. XX, with Molyneux's letter, as also in "Natural History of Ireland," published by Grierson in 1726. It is entitled "A true Prospect of the Giant's Cawsway near Pengore Head, in the county of Antrim, about six miles to the north-west of Coleraine. Taken from the North-West by Edwin Sandys, 1696, at ye expence of the Dublin Society. The Rt. Honble. Sr. Cyrill Wich Kt. President the Rt. Reverd. Dr. Ashe Bishop of Cloyne William Molyneux Esq. Vice-Presidents."* Of this print W. Hamilton in his "Letters concerning the Northern Coast of Antrim," 1786, says that "neither the talents nor the fidelity of the artist seem to be at all suited to the purpose of a philosophical landscape."

In 1705 Sandys was licensed by the Lords Justices to print the "Dublin Gazette" at "the Custom-House Printing-House in Crane Lane." He died in Dublin early in the year 1708. In his will, dated 4th February, 1707-8, and proved in the July following, he is described as "of the City of Dublin, engraver." He left all his property, including his "printing tools," to his wife Ann. His business as a printer continued to be carried on under his name, perhaps by a son; for in 1709 "The Flying Post, or the Post-master's News," was published at the Custom-House printing office in Essex Street, by Edwin Sandys; and in 1713 "An Account of the Foundation of the Royal Hospital of King Charles II, near Dublin," etc., was "Printed by Edwin Sandys in Essex Street MDCCXIII." An "Edwin Sandys, Esq., of Dublin, second examinator in Chancery," died on 11th January, 1734 ("Gentleman's Magazine").

NOTE: * The "Dublin Society" or "Dublin Philosophical Society" was founded in January, 1683-4 on the lines of the Royal Society of London. It met at the "Crow's Nest" in Crow Street, where it established a botanic garden, a museum and a laboratory. It ceased in 1686 but was revived for a time in 1693.

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