ST. JOHN, Hon. John (1702-48), of Lydiard Tregoze, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 3 May 1702,1 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Henry St. John, M.P., 1st Visct. St. John, being 2nd s. by his 2nd w. Angelica Magdalena, da. of Claude Pelissary, treasurer-gen. of the navy to Louis XIV, wid. of Phillip Wharton2 (nephew of Philip, 4th Baron Wharton). educ. Eton 17173 and in Paris 1720. m. (1) 17 Apr. 1729, Anne (d. 14 July 1747), da. of Sir Robert Furnese, 2nd Bt., of Waldershare, Kent, sis. and coh. of Sir Henry Furnese, 3rd Bt., 3s. 3da.; (2) 19 June 1748, Hester, da. of James Clarke of Wharton, Herefs., s.p. suc. fa. under sp. rem. as 2nd Visct. St. John 8 Apr. 1742.
Comptroller of customs in London Apr. 1740-d.
When John St. John was a child his elder half-brother, Bolingbroke, was attainted and excluded by special remainder from succeeding to the peerage which their father was said to have bought from the Duchess of Kendal in 1716. Five years later Lord St. John invested another £4,000 in the Duchess to acquire the reversion of a customs sinecure worth £1,200 a year for the lives of his two younger sons, John and Holles.4 In 1720 John St. John was sent to Paris to complete his education under the eye of Bolingbroke, who wrote of him:
We do not at all despair of licking our young cub into form very soon. The truth is he is extremely raw, but he seems to have docility and parts enough to make an honest man, provided he comes to have what is essential to a good character.5
Returned on the family interest for Wootton Bassett, at the first opportunity after coming of age, he voted with the Opposition except on the repeal of the Septennial Act in 1734. He never stood again but in the crisis of 1737 over the Prince of Wales’s allowance he is described as ‘a great advocate for the Prince, and intimate in consultations with’ him.6 On his father’s death at the age of 89 he succeeded not only to the title but to Lydiard Tregoze, which Bolingbroke, in his own words, had
abandoned ... to him that he might restore the family seat, and that by living there decently and hospitably he might restore a family interest, too much and too long neglected. He may perhaps do the first in time ... as to the last I doubt more of it. They have made themselves a proverb in the country already for their stinginess.
When St. John’s wife died in 1747 Bolingbroke commented to their sister: ‘I wish that the prejudices and habits which his late wife gave him and which are none of the best do not stick by him’.7 Marrying again, he died abroad in November 1748.8
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: R. S. Lea
- 1. His horoscope, Egerton mss 2378, f. 40.
- 2. PCC 38 Cann.
- 3. Add. 34196, f. 2.
- 4. Lady Cowper Diary, 113; Walpole to Mann, 26 Dec. 1748; Cal. Treas. Bks. and Pprs. 1739-41, p. 423.
- 5. Bolingbroke to Henrietta St. John, 23 July 1720, Add. 34196, ff. 11-12.
- 6. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 359.
- 7. Bolingbroke to Henrietta Knight, 10 Aug. 1745, 13 Aug. 1747, Add. 34196, ff. 147, 149.
- 8. PCC 32 Lisle.