Ernest Grey Sandford was born in Dunchurch, Warwickshire in the September Quarter of 1839. He married Ethel Maria Poole in Somerset in the March Quarter of 1875. By that time he was Vicar of Landkey, a small parish some four miles to the south east of Barnstaple.
The first six of their children were born in Landkey. Two more children were born in Cornwood before Ernest's appointment, first as Canon and Preceptor then , in 1888, Archdeacon of Exeter - an appointment held by him until 1909. The family moved to Exeter to live in the Cathedral Yard, in the shadow of the Cathedral and this is where the youngest child was born in 1891.
Ernest Sandford had been educated at Rugby School under the headmastership of Frederick Temple who became Bishop of Exeter before his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury. After ordination, Sandford was, for a while, Dr. Temple's domestic chaplain and became his lifelong friend and admirer. In 1906, he edited and published the Archbishop's Memoirs and the following year wrote An Appreciation of Frederick Temple.