Sankey (Zanchie, Zanchy), Sir Hierome (Hierom, Jerome) (c.1621–c.1687), soldier and politician, was son of Richard Sankey, clergyman, of Endsworth, Shropshire, England, and his wife Anne Smolt of Burford Castle, Dorset. He matriculated as a sizar from Trinity College, Cambridge, in Michaelmas term 1637, entering Clare Hall on 4 July 1640 and graduating BA (c.1641) and MA (1644). Sankey joined the parliamentarian army prior to 1643. By 1645 he was a captain of horse, and served as chaplain under Sir William Brereton. He was noted for his bravery, and eventually rose to the rank of colonel. Leaving the army, he was appointed subwarden of All Souls College, Oxford, in 1648, becoming proctor of the university in 1649. Soon after, he followed Oliver Cromwell (qv) to Ireland.
Promoted to colonel again by October 1649, Sankey commanded a regiment of horse. In December 1649 he attacked the forces of Col. Edward Wogan (qv) as they attempted to capture Passage Fort near Waterford, inflicting major casualties. In March 1650 he was wounded while attacking Dundrum castle in Tipperary, but in May 1650 led the second wave of the Cromwellian attack on Clonmel. After the submission of the town he was appointed governor of Clonmel and Tipperary, and was present at the surrender of Limerick in October 1651. After a brutal campaign in the midlands towards the end of the war, he secured the submission of Col. John Fitzpatrick (qv) in March 1652, and later that of Col. Richard Grace (qv). Notably anti-catholic, Sankey proved ruthless. Reporting to the English parliament in April 1652, he claimed that his forces had killed 400 and captured 350 since the start of the war, with minimal casualties. By now one of the most senior officers in the army, he subscribed (May 1652) to the commissioners report to parliament recounting alleged Irish atrocities, which led directly to the setting up of high courts of justice to punish the perpetrators, and was ordered to apprehend those responsible for the attack on Cashel in 1641. In June 1652, with the regicide Daniel Axtell (qv), Sankey crossed the Shannon and embarked on a devastating campaign in Connacht. He became a baptist c. September 1652.
Sankey was prominent in the Cromwellian government. He was one of the first to be selected to receive forfeited land (December 1652), and in January 1653, on behalf of the army, he sat on the committee dealing with the forthcoming land settlement. In February 1654 he was ordered to obtain the proceedings of the confederate supreme council for evidence of catholic landholders’ guilt. In 1654 he sat in the protectorate parliament as MP for Tipperary and Waterford, but was suspected that year of plotting rebellion against the commonwealth. In July 1655 Sankey petitioned for the payment of army arrears, being nominated subsequently to ascertain the extent of available lands. In August 1655 he sat on the committee dealing with arrears for the wounded, widows, and orphans. He served as agent for the Munster regiments, and as a spokesman for the army against the claims of adventurers, though he obtained lands in Tipperary under the act for adventurers and augmented these considerably over time; he was the subject of complaints by his own men for allegedly accepting bribes for land at the troops’ expense. In February 1656 he oversaw preparations for the transplantation to Connacht, and in December 1656 was elected MP for Reigate. In December 1657 he was appointed as a trustee for the proposed schools funded by Erasmus Smith (qv). He was elected MP for Marlborough in January 1658.
On 24 March 1658 Sankey launched a virulent attack on William Petty (qv) in parliament, accusing him of corruption, and of using his position as surveyor to expropriate land for himself; there was a personal and political basis for this in Petty's relationship with Henry Cromwell (qv). The charges were repudiated, though Sankey would resume his attack in 1659. As a prominent baptist, he was courted by Henry Cromwell to ensure good relations between the government and religious sectaries. He was knighted by Cromwell (November 1658), but Sankey's religious convictions ensured a fraught relationship. In December 1658 he was appointed to the committee examining the commissioners for army arrears, and for planning another college to partner TCD, of which he was a trustee. Involved in the April 1659 coup against Richard Cromwell in Ireland, Sankey was consulted by Charles Fleetwood (qv) regarding developments there. He signed the 6 May declaration of the army inviting the return of the long parliament and in August 1659 led an Irish force during the suppression of Booth's royalist uprising in England. In September 1659 he helped draft the hard-line Derby petition; this later precluded him from the command of the Irish army on the departure of Edmund Ludlow (qv) in October 1659. Sankey remained in England, and 6 December 1659 decided to support George Monck (qv), thereby accepting the imminent restoration of the monarchy.
Sankey was viewed with suspicion after the restoration. He retired to his estate of Coolmore in Tipperary, losing lands despite his best efforts. In December 1660 he was arrested on suspicion of plotting, but was released and in January 1661 signed a petition denouncing Venner's rebellion. He was none the less suspected of treasonable designs c.1661–2. In October 1662 he was appointed to a commission investigating irregularities in the Connacht redistributions, and as late as 1669 was petitioning on behalf of his men against decrees of the court of claims. In 1669 he became one of the governors of the Erasmus Smith schools. By now Sankey was established as one of the leaders of the baptist community in Ireland, though he displayed some latitude in religion; in 1674 he was nominated as churchwarden of the Church of Ireland parish of St Brides. A surviving sermon preached by Sankey in 1674 (TCD, MS 151, ff 12–17) is relatively moderate in tone, the emphasis being on salvation rather than subversion.
Sankey was married, but nothing is known of his wife, or any children. He died intestate c.1687; on 4 February 1687 the administration of his estate was granted to his nephew Richard Sankey (d. 1693), later a colonel in the Williamite army and briefly MP for Fethard (1692–3).