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Sandilands Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: SPERO MELIORA (I hope for better things)

This name comes from the lands of Sandilands in Clydesdale, meaning ‘sandy lands’. It is unclear from where the family who took this placename as their designation originated, although tradition suggests that may have originally fled to Scotland from Northumberland in the reign of Malcolm III, when the Normans conquered Anglo-Saxon England. Sir James de Sandilands distinguished himself in the wars against the English, and was rewarded with a royal charter to his lands by David II. He married Eleanor, the only daughter of Sir Archibald Douglas, Regent of Scotland, who was the widow of Alexander Bruce, Earl of Carrick. Sandilands received from his brother-in-law, Lord Douglas, the lands of Calder in Lothian.

Sir James was killed at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. His son, James Sandilands of Calder, was one of the hostages sent to England for James I. The family became embroiled in the conflict between James II and his Douglas relatives. John Sandilands and his uncle, James, were assassinated at Dumbarton by Patrick Thornton on the orders of the Douglases. During the Reformation, Sir James Sandilands of Calder was put in the difficult position of being preceptor of the Order of the Knights of St. John. When in 1560 the Scots Parliament declared the abolition of all Papal jurisdiction, Sir James found himself the legal representative of an isolated Catholic religious establishment marooned in a sea of fervent reformers. Converting to Protestantism, he was excommunicated by the Papacy and dismissed. In order to protect the Order’s many tenants and dependents, Sandilands took the only legal steps open to him and resigned all the Order’s lands to the Crown and received a re-grant in his own name.

The Preceptors had sat as peers in Parliament under the title of ‘Lord St John of Torphichen’, an interesting case of a title being vested in an office as opposed to a family. Sir James kept his parliamentary rank, being created a hereditary peer as Lord Torphichen. John, the fourth Lord, strongly advised against the plan known as the Engagement, which sought to invade England in 1648 to rescue the king in return for certain conditions. James, seventh Lord Torphichen, took his seat in Parliament in 1704 and was a supporter of the Treaty of Union. He fought for the Hanoverians at the Battle of Sheriffmuir, being rewarded by George I. His eldest son was wounded during the campaigns of 1745 against the ‘Young Pretender’, and he later died of consumption. Today the fifteenth Lord Torphichen, still lives at Calder. 

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Family Crest Motto: SPERO MELIORA (I hope for better things)

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