ST. LOE, George (1655-1718), of Covent Garden, London
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Family and Education
b. 19 Apr. 1655, 5th s. of Edward St. Loe of Knighton, Wilts. and Little Fontmel, Dorset by Margaret, da. of William Fawconer of Salisbury, Wilts. m. 26 Dec. 1682, Elizabeth, da. of Amphilis Cheffinch of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, 1s. 1da.1
Lt. RN 1678, capt. 1682; commr. prizes 8–23 Jan. 1693, Navy Board 24 June 1693–16 Nov. 1714; equerry to Prince of Denmark by 1700–c.1704.2
A younger son, St. Loe had embarked on a naval career, becoming a lieutenant in 1678. His family’s principal properties were located at Knighton in Wiltshire and Little Fontmel in Dorset. In May 1681, while serving on the Hampshire, he was accused with a fellow officer of committing a murder in Tangier. The following September he was acquitted, and without apparent detriment to his career. Promoted captain in 1688, he served under Lord Dartmouth (George Legge†) in the fleet that failed to intercept William of Orange. St. Loe later claimed that he
was so true a friend to the Revolution . . . that (at the peril of his life) he brought the Prince of Orange’s Declaration into the fleet then in the Downes . . . notwithstanding it had been declared that whoever brought the same should be tried for sedition. After this the officers of the fleet came to a resolution not to fight the Dutch and subscriptions were taken to that purpose which were carried to the Prince of Orange.
In August 1689, while on duty in the Channel, he was wounded and taken a prisoner. He remained in captivity for just over two years. Although he received £100 royal bounty, this did not go far towards meeting the £500 he claimed his imprisonment had cost him. His wife petitioned for an exchange on 11 Jan. 1691, and he was certainly back in England by September 1692, when he presented to the Privy Council proposals for raising 20,000 seamen without recourse to impressment. His proposal was for all merchants to register their ships and find an able seaman for every 50 tuns or pay a £5 volunteering bounty. In 1693 St. Loe published England’s Safety, a pamphlet based on observations of the French naval system during his captivity in Brest and Nantes.3
St. Loe did not return to active service. In January 1693, having already declined an offer of the governorship of New York on account of ‘indisposition occasioned by his wound’, he accepted instead a commissionership of prizes. The following June he was promoted to the Navy Board as an extra commissioner, although his patent was held up for two months pending an investigation of his alleged abuses in the prize office. He was acquitted and confirmed in office, moving to Plymouth in 1695 as resident commissioner, where he supervised the building of the Eddystone lighthouse. He continued to present various suggestions to the Lords for improving the naval administration, submitting a paper to a committee on a shipbuilding bill in April 1694, and giving evidence to an investigation into naval maladministration in March 1695.4
Unsuccessful for Weymouth both in 1698 and at the first 1701 election, St. Loe was returned at the second 1701 election. Lord Spencer (Charles*) mistakenly classified him as a ‘gain’ for the Whigs, whereas Robert Harley* correctly listed him as a Tory. St. Loe favoured the motion on 26 Feb. 1702, vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of King William’s Whig ministers. On 13 Feb. 1703 he voted against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. He was listed as a placeman in 1705. Defeated at Weymouth at the 1705 election, he did not stand again for Parliament, retaining his naval office, however, until the accession of George I. He died in 1718, his will being proved on 8 Oct. His nephew, Edward St. Loe, was a rear-admiral in the reign of George I.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. IGI, London; Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 81; Hoare, Wilts. Chalk, 143.
- 2. Duckett, Navy Commrs. 10–11; CSP Dom. 1693, pp. 4–5, 218.
- 3. Charnock, Biog. Navalis, ii. 95–96; CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 291; 1690–1, p. 224; Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 573; ii. 555; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 622; Add. 33057, f. 411.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1693, p. 323; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 301, 306; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 391, 529; HMC Portland, viii. 121; Add. 33057, f. 411.
- 5. PCC 200 Tenison.