Sall, Andrew Fitzjohn (1624–82), scholar and sometime Jesuit, was born into an Old English family in the city of Cashel, Co. Tipperary; nothing is known of his parents. More than five Jesuits bore the name Sall (Sál, Sale). With such a background it is not surprising to find the young Andrew Fitzjohn Sall setting off in 1638 to study in Spain. He was to be there for seventeen years. His period on the staff of the college at Numacia and Villagarcia was probably routine. But not so his appointment to Pamplona, where he became advisor to El Conde de San Stephano and made his first acquaintance with Bishop Nicholas French (qv). He became rector of the Irish College in 1652 and was professor of controversial theology. An intention to change the direction of his career is suggested by the fact that he was serving as a pastoral substitute in Oviedo in 1655. Three years later, however, he was back in Pamplona teaching.
He returned to Ireland not later than 1665, and is not to be confused with his older cousin, and namesake, the superior of the order. As late as 12 October 1669 the general of the order in a letter says: ‘Keep Andrew Sall junior to his duty and make him follow the example of Fr Sall senior’, i.e. his cousin. The Ireland to which he returned was riven with the controversy associated with the loyal remonstrance of the Franciscan Peter Walsh (qv) and others, into which he readily entered. Association with the protestant archbishop Thomas Price (qv) aroused in him many misgivings about aspects of Roman catholic doctrine and practice. Later he acknowledged that he entertained the thought of separation from the Roman catholic church but resolved to spend the remnant of his days ‘retired and unknown to prepare better for the long day of eternity’ (Sall, True catholic and apostolic faith, preface). Later he prepared a paper, not for publication, which ‘dropped from me and fell into the hands of some’ (ibid.) who concluded that he had already become a protestant minister. The exchange of letters that took place between Fr Sall and Fr Stephen Rice in Dundalk is a sad one, Fr Rice offering to make amends for any offence so that ‘union at least of Christianity if not of religion may be entire among us’ (ibid.). For a variety of reasons the breach was not healed.
Sometime in the summer of 1674 Andrew Sall took up residence in TCD. Here he prepared and successfully defended his DD thesis. Here too he came under the protection of Dr John Fell (1625–86), who facilitated the work of scripture translation into various languages then being undertaken in Oxford. In July 1675 Sall took refuge in Oxford, where he remained till 1680. He saw no less than three books of a theological and polemical nature through the press during this period, but it can be no accident that on his return to Ireland he was drawn into translation work.
Sall's return to Ireland was prompted by a desire to assist Robert Boyle (qv) and his sister in their various translation activities. But one last activity he had to leave unfinished was the publication of the translation of the Old Testament by Murtagh King (qv) (Muircheartach Ó Cionga) and Séamas de Nógla (James Nangle), which had been made under the aegis of William Bedell (qv) in the 1630s. The translation had been rescued and preserved by Denis Sheridan (qv) (Donnchadh Ó Sioradáin), a protégé of Bedell, by whom it was given to Henry Jones (qv), bishop of Meath. Sall had already seen the text at Jones's house, and he expressed the view that ‘the Irish version of the Old Testament should be revised’. On the question of register, for instance, he had this to say: ‘This much in general I shall insinuate, that if I were fit to be a translator, of two ends men may aim at in such a work, the one of getting the credit of skill in the primitive ancient Irish, the other of benefiting common readers by expressions now in use, I would choose the latter . . .’ When he first came to examine the manuscript, Sall discovered it to be ‘a confused heap’, had it rebound, and hoped ‘to make up a complete Old Testament with the help of God and Mr Higgin’, i.e. Pól Ó hUigínn (qv), the Irish lecturer at Trinity College. He goes on to speak of what a labour it ‘will be to draw up a clear copy of the whole’.
Sall worked at the text of Bedell's Old Testament during the early months of 1682, and by 7 February he reported that eight chapters of Genesis had been written out from the manuscript ‘in very fair letter as clear as any print’. The scribe Mr Mullan, a bachelor of physic, had agreed to the rate of eleven pence a sheet, with the acquiescence of Dr Narcissus Marsh (qv), provost of Trinity College, and Ó hUigínn. Mullan supplied the first transcriptions under Sall's supervision. He also stayed at Sall's house, and Dr Sall says of himself that he would lay aside other duties so as to attend to this work. Actually he had just over two months left; he never returned to his other work, nor did he finish this work either. But for the time that was left he threw himself into it, both the work on the text and the administration of a subscription list.
In the course of all this Andrew Sall discovered – rather to his surprise at first, it would seem – that the project of making the scriptures available in Irish, and the scheme of proselytisation of which it was an essential instrument, were actually opposed by some within the protestant camp, while others remained at least ambivalent. ‘One of them had the gallantry to tell me in my face, and at my own table, that while I went about to gain the Irish (to God, I mean), I should lose the English.’
From November 1680 till his death (5 April 1682) he lived in Oxmanstown on the north bank of the River Liffey in Young's Castle (Michael Hunter and Edward B. Davis (ed.), The works of Robert Boyle (14 vols, 1999–2000), v, 608).